Now in its third edition, the ‘Scale of UK higher education transnational education’ report uses data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency to analyse UK TNE delivery and was launched in London at the Transnational Education Conference 2019 on November 6.
“For the very first time we’ve seen a decrease in the overall number of students”
“We now have 139 high education providers in the UK engaged in some form of transnational education. That’s the largest number on record,” said Vivienne Stern, director of UUKI, at the launch.
“But the report also shows that for the very first time we’ve seen a decrease in the overall number of students.
“If you take out the three big providers [Oxford Brookes University, the Open University and the University of London] who make up 52% of total student numbers, although there is an overall decrease in student numbers, without those big three we’ve seen growth of 2% this year,” Stern noted.
“We’re also seeing some interesting shifts in patterns of provision by geography and some phenomenal growth in emerging centres or hot spots of higher education.”
Among these emerging markets are Cyprus, which has grown by 244% since 2013/14, Sri Lanka (up 87.5%) and Myanmar (55%).
At the same time, in traditional host countries and regions like Malaysia, Hong Kong, Egypt and Nigeria, TNE numbers are stagnating or decreasing, according to the report.
Myanmar, in particular, is looking at how to change and reform its education system, noting that training for much-needed skills could be a gap filled by TNE.
“The most popular subject in our country is now business,” noted Myo Kywe, chairman of the National Education Policy Commission (NEPC) in Myanmar during the conference.
“We need tourism and hospitality. Thailand has 13 million tourists per year, we only have 3 or 4 million. We need to boom the subjects that can offer tourism, hospitality and airline management. This is essential.”
For the first time, China became the country hosting the most TNE students.
Together with Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan and Nigeria, the top five host countries make up 38% of all student numbers.
“But there’s another big story, and that’s the very rapid growth of transnational provision in Europe, which grew 8.4% in the last two years,” added Stern.
“I think that can be explained by UK universities looking to shore up their relationships across Europe.”
In one conference session, university representatives met with speakers from NUFFIC and DAAD, who discussed Netherlands’ and Germany’s respective approaches to TNE.
“Until two years ago, Dutch universities were not allowed to offer any full degree programs abroad.
If they did so, students would be required to spend a quarter of their study in the Netherlands, which was a little bit difficult for those students on branch campuses in Indonesia and Thailand,” explained Rosa Becker, senior researcher and policy advisor at NUFFIC.
However, changes in regulations in the Netherlands have created more of an opportunity for universities to participate in TNE.
“Firstly, you are allowed to offer your full degree program abroad. As a Dutch institution, you will need to show in funds through the Ministry of Education that the TNE programs will directly benefit the quality of education at home to home students,” Becker said.
“Secondly, Dutch institutions are only allowed to offer a full degree programs abroad if they offer the same program in the Netherlands, and thirdly, in order to recruit international students to the Netherlands, all Dutch universities are required to sign a code of conduct [saying they will] offer sufficient support to international students.”
Germany’s education system has a slightly different approach, in part due to free tuition and laws restricting university commercialisation.
“The German government financially supports the activity of German universities. They do this mainly through my own organisation, DAAD, which actually is a major driver for the development of TNE in Germany,” said Susanne Kammüller, senior desk officer TNE at DAAD.
“TNE can be effective for building global footprint, brand and ranking, but the data suggests most of us aren’t doing it”
Kammüller noted that collaborative forms were “absolutely dominant” in the German model for TNE.
An afternoon session with representatives from the British Council in China on TNE looked at the local preferences for 4+0 courses, ones that are provided completely in-country, as well as offering advice to universities for ensuring successful collaboration with Chinese partners.
It advised providers to “adjust income expectation”, “for all but the highest-ranking universities, expect high leakage of students into other universities” and that “TNE can be effective for building global footprint, brand and ranking, but the data suggests most of us aren’t doing it”.