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UK TNE “yet to fulfil its potential” – IHEC report

The latest report from the International Higher Education Commission has highlighted the potential of transnational education to address many of the challenges faced globally by universities and students.

A new report on the potential of TNE has been released. Image: Pexels

Over 550,000 students, across 162 UK universities are enrolled in TNE programs

One of the huge benefits of TNE is enabling students to access world-class education and global perspectives without necessarily moving to another country.

The report comes at a time when many of the major study destinations are considering the role of overseas students in their own higher education systems.

Tougher national policies in the UK and Australia are designed to reduce net migration are predicted to hamper inbound student mobility in the short term.

The latest IHEC report forms part of a sector wide mobilisation led by the Commission, to create a new international education strategy for the UK.

It urges universities to better utilise TNE programs to meet global skills shortages and stabilise international enrolment flows.

Key recommendations include the creation of a national TNE Academy; rewarding collaborative online international learning (COIL) and internationalisation at home (IaH) initiatives in the sector; and creating a data-led approach to planning transnational opportunities.

The UK already has a substantial base on which to enhance TNE program capacity even further.  Over 550,000 students, across 162 UK universities are enrolled in TNE programs.

Spread over 230 different countries, this breadth of diversity stands in stark contrast to traditional in-bound, full-time international students coming to the UK – where over 50% of student enrolments are dominated now by just four countries – China, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

The report, which has been designed to be inclusive of the whole sector, regardless of experience, institutional size or TNE maturity, found that despite the promising numbers of students enrolled on degree programs overseas – the model has “yet to fulfil its full potential”.

If we stand still and fail to embrace the opportunities TNE presents, then the UK will miss the opportunity to be an international leader in TNE

Articulation agreements have also taken a pivotal role in insulating UK universities from global enrolment swings from key source markets like China.

IHEC: The Role of Transnational Education Partnerships in Building Sustainable and Resilient Higher Education

Commission chairman, Chris Skidmore MP spoke of the TNE potential outlined in the report, saying “If we stand still and fail to embrace the opportunities TNE presents, then the UK will miss the opportunity to be an international leader in TNE.

“While TNE demonstrates substantial growth, the challenges in scaling up impede the full realisation of its potential. Addressing this gap will necessitate a series of significant and substantive measures to truly move the needle and unlock the true power of TNE on a global scale.”

Co-author of the report David Pilsbury, chief development officer at Oxford International Education Group and secretary to the Commission said: “It is increasingly evident that TNE is not only a viable, but a crucial offering for nations witnessing a rapid rise in the number of ambitious young minds seeking access to world-class education.

“The global landscape of education is evolving, and TNE emerges as a strategic response to meet the diverse needs of higher education institutions on their quest for excellence and Inclusivity.”

In addition to detailed analysis of the future opportunity for growth in TNE and the types of articulation agreements possible, the report includes several case studies such as Dundee International Institute of Central South University (DII CSU), China, King’s College London with Singhasari Special Economic Zone, Indonesia and De Montfort University and EdPeritus, DMU Kazakhstan.

Contributing authors also include Dr Vangelis Tsiligkiris, an associate professor at Nottingham Trent University, Wendy Alexander is vice-principal (international) and professor of international education at the University of Dundee, and Janet Ilieva the founder of consultancy Education Insight.

Do you develop international partnerships for a university? Do you feel there is more potential in this area and what are the barriers to success? Have your say in the comments below or by emailing

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One Response to UK TNE “yet to fulfil its potential” – IHEC report

  1. Intriguing developments within a dynamic space that requires disruptive protagonists like TNE. I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss thoughts and strategies to increase the quality and quantity of online learning for students who need to develop employability, business, enterprise and entrepreneurship skills.

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