Cross-Border Education Research Team (C-BERT)

Over the past two decades, there has been a significant increase in higher education institutions exporting their educational programs across geopolitical borders. The Cross-Border Education Research Team (C-BERT) studies this phenomenon from organizational, sociological, economic, and political perspectives. As distinct from strictly virtual or online education, C-BERT concentrates on instances of physical cross-border teaching and research activities. These broad interests inform more specific inquiries into regulation, accountability, quality assurance, institutional legitimacy, patterns of growth, and institutional failures, among other topics. C-BERT does not promote or represent any institutions, sectors, or national systems engaged in cross-border higher education. Rather, its mission is to advance understanding of these issues through the discovery, analysis, and dissemination of knowledge. In turn, this research aims to inform institutional development as well as public policy and discussion.

C-BERT was created in 2010 by Kevin Kinser, currently a professor of Higher Education and Department Head of the Education Policy Studies (EPS) Department at Penn State University, and Jason Lane, a professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies (EAPS) at SUNY Albany. In addition to Drs. Lane and Kinser, core C-BERT personnel also includes Dr. Li Zhang, Associate for Academic Programs and Planning at SUNY, and Azalea Hulbert, a graduate research assistant based at Penn State. This core group of researchers engages with an extended network of affiliated scholars and higher education researchers from across the world.


Dr. Kevin Kinser Follow @KevinKinser

Kevin Kinser is Professor and Head of the Department of Education Policy Studies, and Senior Scientist in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at The Pennsylvania State University. He is also a Senior Fellow for Internationalization at NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Kinser is a graduate of Columbia University’s Teachers College (New York).

He studies non-traditional and alternative higher education, particularly the public policies and organizational structures related to private for-profit institutions and international cross-border higher education. Kinser is co-founder of the Cross-Border Education Research Team (C-BERT) which investigates the scope and impact of international branch campuses worldwide. Kinser is the author or editor of four books and more than 70 articles, chapters, and scholarly reports, and he is regularly invited to present his research at conferences in the United States and abroad. Because of his research, Kinser is regularly sought out by national and international media outlets for commentary on for-profit and international higher education. He is currently co-editing a book on US quality assurance called Accreditation on the Edge: Perspectives and Controversies in Higher Education Quality (Johns Hopkins Press). He can be reached at

Dr. Jason Lane Follow @ProfJasonLane

Jason E. Lane is Chair of the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership, Director of the Cross-Border Education Research Team, and founding executive director of the SUNY Academic & Innovative Leadership (SAIL) Institute. Previously, he served as Deputy Director for Research at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government as well as Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Strategic Leadership and Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for the State University of New York, where he was responsible for the development and implementation of academic, economic, global, and leadership initiatives across the system.

Dr. Lane’s scholarly expertise focuses on the leadership and governance of higher education, particularly as it relates to the emerging relationship between higher education, policy and politics, and globalization. A Fulbright New Century Scholar, he has conducted research in more than 30 countries on the development of multi-national colleges and universities. He has written more than 50 journal articles, book chapters, and policy reports; and authored or edited 10 books, including Academic Leadership and Governance of Higher Education, Multi-National Colleges and Universities: Leadership and Administration of International Branch Campuses, Colleges and Universities as Economic Drivers and Higher Education Systems 3.0. He serves as co-editor for two book series with SUNY Press, Critical Issues in Higher Education and Global Issues in Higher Education and has served on the boards of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), Council for International Higher Education (CIHE), the Gulf Comparative Education Society (GCES), and SUNY Korea. His research has received numerous awards, including receiving the award for outstanding contributions to international education research from the Association for the Study of Higher Education. He can be reached at

Dr. Li Zhang

Li Zhang is currently an Associate for Academic Programs and Planning at the State University of New York System Administration. She received her Ph.D in international higher education from the Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies (EAPS) at University at Albany, State University of New York. She is interested in the internationalization of both secondary and higher education. More specifically, her research areas include the establishment of International Branch Campuses (IBCs), organizational legitimacy issues, and quality assurance.

She serves as US Representative for the Association for Collaborative Leadership (ACL) China Office. ACL is an educational, research and professional organization striving to develop leadership capabilities and advance collaboration among higher education institutions in the United States. Meanwhile, Li serves as an independent consultant for Chinese universities that want to establish partnerships with US higher education institutions as well as other forms of internationalization the Chinese universities would like to pursue. Li is a C-BERT Fellow and China Group Leader, focused on developing C-BERT connections with scholars on Chinese-Foreign Cooperation in Running Schools.

Azalea Hulbert

Azalea Hulbert is a doctoral candidate (ABD) in higher education at The Pennsylvania State University, and currently works for C-BERT as web manager and graduate research assistant. She also works as a consultant, providing expertise to small business owners and educational institutions across diverse areas, including program development, leadership development, and strategic visioning. Previously, she was program manager of a center for ethics and leadership at Samford University, where she led many student and community programs and international initiatives, in addition to managing the center’s online presence. She received an MBA from Samford University, and a BS in Human Environmental Sciences from the University of North Alabama.

Azalea’s primary research focuses on ethics and leadership, combining broad research interests that lie at the intersection of educational and organizational studies. Much of her work is focused on long-term academic integrity initiatives; she was founding director of the Southeast Regional Consortium of the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI), and is internationally recognized as a speaker on academic integrity. Other ongoing projects focus on leadership and administrative issues, including research on upper echelons leadership in higher education and faculty academic freedom in changing legal environments. She is coauthor (with John C. Knapp) of the recent book, Ghostwriting and the Ethics of Authenticity.