Transnational education is here to stay

That was the message of the November 1 conference run by Universities UK International (UUKi), as they outline here

Transnational education (TNE) isn’t just about growth, it’s about development. TNE plays a crucial role in universities’ internationalisation strategies. It helps build the UK’s reputation as a study destination and enhances the student experience. Professor Andrea Nolan, Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, put forward a compelling argument for why universities should invest in TNE strategy at the Transnational education: here to stay conference run by Universities UK International (UUKi).

UK universities offer TNE in 227 countries across the world, equating to 701,010 students studying for UK higher education qualifications outside the UK. With TNE provision rising rapidly, the conference provided an opportunity to consider the future of TNE. The event included sessions on education partnerships in Egypt, due diligence, TNE post-Brexit and finished with a world café in which delegates could meet country experts from 12 countries.

Education partnerships in Egypt

The Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of the Arab Republic of Egypt presented on how and why the country’s transnational education works. His keynote speech outlined the current landscape as the UK’s fifth largest host country for UK TNE students. He said the number of students choosing UK degrees in Egypt has increased by 35% in just three years.

His excellency spoke highly of the UK’s research performance. He was also impressed with the rate the UK is growing as an international education provider. He highlighted the UK’s ability to deliver context-relevant education programmes and excellent quality assurances, and said that British universities stand out as an education partner.

Egypt is currently undergoing a period of growth and development. His Excellency talked of planning infrastructures to compliment education provision and helping to attract international students. He suggested a future in which Egypt would partner with higher education systems across the world, including the UK.

Taking a flexible approach

A key to successful higher education is being flexible, which is especially pertinent for transnational education. Sudden changes in government policy and shifts in international politics means universities need to be open to change. They need to adapt and keep in regular communication with their partners, staff and students.

The uncertainty around Brexit has caused some concern and anxieties, but this is one of many external factors that will affect the way higher education is delivered. Mohamed Loutfi, Pro Vice Chancellor at Cardiff Metropolitan University believes that the UK will still be welcome in the European higher education landscape. And, although we don’t know what the outcome of the negotiations will be, universities will simply have to be ready to adapt.

Forward thinking

The numbers suggest that TNE is going to continue to grow. And, in order for UK universities to stay ahead of the pack with TNE provision, they must be forward-thinking. Institutions should develop a strategy that compliments their wider internationalisation strategy, whether that’s by linking TNE with outward student mobility, being open to developing programmes in new locations or updating course content to stay relevant.

UUKi regularly works with governments and partners overseas to help UK universities access the latest information and opportunities. The conference provided a platform to start the discussion on the future of transnational education which will be continued at events and webinars in 2018.


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