Transnational Education As An Emerging New Educational Paradigm

handshakeEducation is an indispensable part of life at all levels. People gain knowledge and enlarge their worldview through education. And, education provides the critical knowledge needed for societal development and advancement. Fact is, a nation cannot develop without a literate population. And in today’s world, the role of education has become even more vital.

Education today is increasingly becoming international. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organi-sation, between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of adults worldwide who have received tertiary education rose from 19 per cent to 29 per cent, and all estimates suggest that this growth will continue, albeit at a slower pace.

It has been documented that demand for higher education outstrips supply globally. With this trend, it has become necessary to experiment with new kinds of educational models.

One new buzzword that has emerged is the notion of transnational education (TNE). This generally refers to situations where students stay in their home country but study for degrees from abroad.The UNESCO/Council of Europe Code of Good Practice in the Provision of Transnational Education (Riga, 6 June 2001) provides an elaborate definition by regarding TNE as “all types of higher education study programmes, or sets of courses of study, or educational services (including those of distance education) in which the learners are located in a country different from the one where the awarding institution is based”.

Research suggests that TNE is continuing to expand at a brisk pace; both in terms of scale (programmes and student enrolment) and scope (diversity of delivery modes and location of delivery).

TNE embraces both virtual and physical forms of cross-border education and is distinct from the standard forms of international student mobility where a student from country A goes to study in country B in order to undertake a degree or course of study.

The focus of TNE is on educational service arrangements or courses of study, in which learners are located in a country different from the one where the awarding institution is based.

Today, many students who traditionally would have travelled overseas to pursue their education are now pursuing foreign degrees in their home at local institutions through TNE. The aim  is to enable students to study for the degree of a foreign university without being taught on the home campus of that university.

The United Kingdom and Australia are regarded as the world leaders in TNE. According to recent data released by Britain’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the number of students studying ‘wholly overseas’ for a UK higher education qualification increased by more than 95,000 in 2011, to 503,795 – 75,000 more than the number of international students that were enrolled at institutions in the UK (428,225) and approximately one-sixth of all students studying for UK awards.

Also, a 2013 Report by the British Council, titled “The shape of things to come: The evolution of transnationaleducation: data, definitions,opportunities and impacts analysis”, indicates that in 2011-12, UK universities had set up 1,395 TNE programmes abroad in addition to 73 overseas campuses. According to the Report, in the same academic year, Australia had set up 394 TNE programmes, while in 2012, German institutions were involved in some 200 double degrees with universities abroad.

Countries such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates are judged to be destinations and suitable for new TNE, while others (e.g.  Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Nigeria, etc.) are viewed least favourably.
Over the years, different models of TNE have emerged.

Articulation is one popular model in TNE. Under this model, the awarding institution reviews the provision of another institution and certifies the adequacy of the curriculum in terms of standards for the award of specific credit leading to direct entry at certain levels (usually year two, three or four) of the specified programme at the awarding institution. Arrangements such as 2+2, 3+1, and 2+1 have occurred.

The validated franchised model (popularised by UK universities) and one of the most widely used models, is where an awarding institution authorizes another institution to deliver part or all of its approved programmes with the degree issued by the awarding institution, so long as the quality of the degree is tested by the awarding institution. Often, the awarding institution retains direct responsibility for the programme content, assessment methods and teaching, and quality assurance.

Branch campus is the situation where a foreign degree-granting institution establishes a campus in the country where the students are studying.

Joint degree is an arrangement where a programme is taught collaboratively by two or more universities with periods of study at each location.

The flying-faculty model is an arrangement where the awarding (foreign) institution has either a direct or indirect presence in the country where the students are recruited.

Distance and online education are new ways used by foreign academic institutions to provide virtual learning platforms for students to study for degree(s) without the supplying universities establishing a physical presence in the international market(s).

The Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), a model for delivering learning content online to any person who wants to take a course, with no limit on attendance is regarded as a trend in TNE. MOOCs are delivered online, in virtually all fields offered to people from around the world.MOOC courses are free or “open”, and most of MOOC courses are being offered by some of the most prestigious of universities in the world.

MOOC platforms such as Coursera, edX and Udacity have partnered with over thirty (30) universities, offering more than 200 courses to over two million students in 196 countries.

The entry of the “big guns” in the world of MOOCs have attracted lots of attention and this has increased student enrollment in these courses.

The TNE landscape is still emerging and projected to grow over the next conceivable years. There are with multiple stakeholders with different perceptions, expectations and motivations. Many students have gained education and have graduated through TNE.

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