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UUKi conference: TNE providers look to India and online

India’s National Education Policy, which has opened up new possibilities for foreign providers to launch TNE projects in the country, is being called a “game changer” by people on the ground as they hope it will bring much needed skills and training to the nation.

TNEMany providers are interested in exploring the possibilities of online learning in TNE. Photo: iStock

60% of TNE students studied with UK providers at least partly through digital means in 2018

As some attention of universities switches from China to India, speakers at the UUKi’s Transnational education conference 2021 noted the NEP has the potential to better align education with the requirements of industry and employers.

“This was something which was missing for years. Many top employers used to complain that they recruit students from universities but spend months reskilling them, retraining them and reorienting them,” said Jayesh Ranjan, vice-chancellor at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad.

We are very keen that we bring students up to date with the latest skills… Now, since the new education policy has allowed transnational academic collaborations, what we have been trying out for the past three or four years will be accelerated.”

“We are very keen that we bring students up to date with the latest skills”

Citing one example, Ranjan described visiting Manchester Metropolitan University and seeing its centre for 3D printing, something he believed would be extremely beneficial at his own university.

“In my state we have programs which teach students on advanced manufacturing, including 3D printing, but that kind of centre was really mind boggling,” he remembered.

“They had the latest 3D printers and the kind of courses which they offered were extremely diverse. So we immediately made a proposal to them.”

Inviting Manchester Metropolitan to set up a similar centre at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad, Ranjan recounted that they offered three things from their side.

The first was that if a program were not filled to capacity, the Indian side would pay the remaining balance of fees. They also said they would promote the course across the country and that while the centre would start off being run by Manchester Metropolitan faculty, it would eventually switch to being handled by local staff.

Meanwhile for EU TNE, while Brexit has brought difficulties around issues like data protection Jenny Higham, principal at St George’s, University of London, which partners with the University of Nicosia in Cyprus to offer a four year graduate entry medicine program, said the key was planning for eventualities.

“We were fortunate that within Cyprus the university was proactive in getting recognition of the degree award from Britain,” she said.

Elisabeth Grindel Denby, campus director at Lancaster University Leipzig and Navitas Germany, also emphasised the importance of choosing the right location for projects.

“We went through a profound selection process and finally chose Leipzig because of the city’s many recreational and cultural opportunities, its booming economy, and dynamic growth, diverse social structure and student-friendly infrastructure, its attractive lifestyle and housing markets, and fantastic opportunities from local government agencies and stakeholders who supported us,” she explained.

“I think the key to success is the ability to nurture existing partnerships and continuously build new ones, but also to appoint the right staff and colleagues, staff that know the local and the UK systems and can act as what we might call cultural intermediaries.”

As the move to online learning shows little sign of going away – perhaps to the chagrin of many students and lecturers – universities are further considering how online provision can be incorporated into their TNE offerings.

“In 2018, estimates are that 400,000 students studying overseas for UK awards [did so] at least partly through digital means, which represents about 60% of the total number of TNE students,” said Helen O’Sullivan, pro-vice chancellor (education) at Keele University.

“And then add to this the number of those students who began and will continue their studies remotely from their home countries due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s difficult to estimate the total number of students but it’s likely to be a significant portion of the more than 480,000 EU and international students studying degrees in the UK. This means that online and blended are absolutely critically important aspects of the UK’s TNE provision.”

“Online and blended are absolutely critically important aspects of the UK’s TNE provision”

However the University of Liverpool Online’s strategic director Lynn Evans, highlighted that there was “a reluctance in certain regions to give the same value to online-blended learning”, although some have liberalised regulations due to Covid-19 and she “can’t see that really ever being fully reversed”.

“The quality of some of the new provision might be quite variable at first, and it’s going to be quite difficult for students to navigate what could become quite a confusing landscape,” she said.

“There’s a danger that that could set us back somewhat in terms of the negative perceptions of online that the established providers have worked very, very hard on for years and there’s not one simple answer to that.”

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