Towards improved quality standards in transnational education

Oct 29, 2014

The quality assurance mechanisms of transnational education (TNE) or cross-border education have not kept pace with the changes in the landscape of its activities and trends is the core argument of the article I co-authored with Richard J Edelstein, a research associate at the Center for Studies in Higher Education, University of California, Berkeley.

TNE is offered in a range of models, including branch campuses, licensed foreign degree programs provided by local institutions, articulation agreements, distance learning degrees and online degrees.

The variety of models is reflective of diverse contexts of source and destination countries, where demand from the emerging segment of ‘glocal’ students - who have aspirations to gain a global education experience, but want to remain in their local region/country - is creating new opportunities for institutions.

The landscape of TNE gets further complicated with the emergence of new distance learning technologies, such as MOOCs, that are changing teaching and learning methods and are not easily incorporated into traditional processes and definitions of quality assurance in higher education.

For example, a recent strategic planning document from MIT forecasts a future where education will be unbundled and degrees will be disaggregated ‘into smaller credential units such as course credentials, sequence credentials and even badges’ with the possibility that ‘the credentialing agency may be different from the institution that offers the course’.

This responsiveness to demand has also led to a wide variation in quality among these programs and models. To varying degrees, these TNE initiatives appear to operate with little regulation or oversight from governments or quality assurance entities in the participating students’ country or in the provider institutions’ home country.

Quality in higher education is not only difficult to measure (as we know from wide-ranging debates about rankings), but also involves diverse approaches to quality assurance. It takes many forms, varying from country to country. For example, terms such as accreditation, recognition and the authority to grant diplomas or degrees can have different meanings and vary by country. Likewise, definitions and processes can differ widely from country to country.

In the context of TNE, quality issues can be addressed by authorities in the country where the provider institution is located and-or in the country where student participants receive TNE programs. Unfortunately, many of the countries where the demand for TNE is high, such as Pakistan, Nigeria and India, do not have strong oversight or clearly established regulations to assure quality. This poses risks to students as well as to institutional providers. In Europe and more broadly there are efforts to establish common standards and processes that are recognized beyond national borders.

The pattern of growth in transnational education is rife with complexity and brimming with innovation. The quality assurance mechanisms of cross border educational activities are lagging behind. This has implications for all stakeholders, including students, institutions and policymakers. To eventually establish an improved quality assurance regime for transnational education that is broadly accepted as legitimate, a concerted, proactive and collaborative effort is required to better understand the nature, scope and scale of transnational education.

Related Links:

Can China become the hub of ‘glocal’ students? CACIE Conference 2014

Oct 15, 2014

What are the drivers of international student mobility to China? What are the implications of these trends for Chinese Universities? Can China become the hub of ‘glocal’ students? This is the focus of the session I am chairing at China Annual Conference for International Education (CACIE) Forum on International Student Mobility on Sunday, October 26.

Mobility of Chinese students to the leading destinations like US, UK and Australia is a known trend. However, what has not gained enough attention is the increasing magnetism of China as a destination for international students. In 2009, nearly, 238,000 international students were enrolled in Chinese higher education institutions. In specific, number of foreign students enrolled in degree programs has doubled to more than 100,000 in five years.

However, what is hidden in this growth is the regional mobility of students. For example, two of our every three international students in China are from Asia. More Pakistani students are enrolled in China than they are in the US (~161,000/~238,000). These international students who have aspirations to earn a global education or experience, while staying in the region are defined as ‘glocal’ students’. And, China is emerging as a hub of ‘glocal’ students.

The overarching purpose of this session is to maximize the potential of China as the destination for international students by gaining a deeper understanding of mobility patterns and exploring effective policies, strategies and practices. In specific, the session will discuss the mobility of international students to study in China, along following three strands: 
  • Students—Who are they? Where are they coming from? What are the drivers of mobility? 
  • Institutions—What are the some of the models and strategies for attracting ‘glocal’ students to China? How can Chinese universities attract international students from more diversified source countries? 
  • Policies—What policies and strategies can further increase the attractiveness of China as a destination?
The expert panel will include following:
  • Changjun YUE, Ph.D. Dean, Graduate School of Education, Peking University
  • John Gordon Robertson, Ph.D. Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, New York University Shanghai
  • Julian Chang, Ph.D. Associate Dean at Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University
  • Youmin Xi, Ph.D. Executive President of Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of University of Liverpool
  • Nick Miles, OBE Provost and Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Nottingham Ningbo China
Dr. Rahul Choudaha

Impact assesst as an integral part of internationalization strategy

Oct 4, 2014

In a world of increasing fiscal constraints, discourses that emphasize measuring impact continue to gain traction.

Most recently, the Scaling Social Impact series by Harvard Business Review and The Bridgespan Group focuses on how organisations can have a greater social impact. In the same vein, the Stanford Social Innovation Review also has a special section on innovative ways to measure an organisation’s impact on various populations. 

In light of the increasing complexity and changes in higher education, universities engaging in internationalisation need to candidly ask themselves if and how their strategies are in fact meeting the goals and outcomes they have set for themselves. 

Of course, assessment is not something new for many engaged with the internationalisation of higher education. However, current practices often take a one-dimensional, limited view as compared to a big-picture, holistic view of the impact of internationalisation strategies. 

Impact assessment helps make a stronger case to stakeholders of all types who are involved with a university – public funders and legislators, private donors and alumni, university leaders, tuition payers, faculty, staff and students – for funding programmes and strategic initiatives. 

By proactively making impact assessment an integral part of funding decisions, campus international education leaders also demonstrate their confidence by not shying away from showing the outcomes of their programmes and initiatives. 

In addition, impact assessment keeps programmes on track by not only helping to identify areas of improvement and thus deliver better overall outcomes, but also helping to focus on how they affect individuals – particularly faculty and students – at different stages of their engagement. 

Finally, we are in a world of data and technology, which can assist not only in assessing impact in multiple dimensions but also in tracking it over time. This will further intensify the need to build strategies that are measurable, impactful and evidence-based. 

There will be an increasing demand not only to assess the impact on stakeholders but also to understand how the data compare with that coming from peer institutions. 

Currently, we often measure the impact of internationalisation from a rather insular and imperfect viewpoint, which comes down to simply counting the number of globally mobile students. 

This argument has also been suggested by other scholars and practitioners in the field who agree that institutions need to go beyond the rhetoric and numbers and rigorously measure the impact on campus at the level of individuals as well. 

Rahul Choudaha

Presenting at EAIE Conference 2014 on Transnational Education, MOOCs and International Student Recruitment

Sep 13, 2014

I will be chairing three sessions at the 26th European Association for International Education’s (EAIE) Conference in Prague on the overarching themes of strategies and trends related to international student recruitment, MOOCs and transnational education or cross-border education. Given below are the details:

Thursday, September 18, 2014 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
New Ways of Learning: Digital Hype or Cultural Shift?
Plenary Dialogue that aims to understand emerging trends, opportunities and challenges with the new ways of learning, in particular online learning and MOOCs.
  • Philip Altbach, Research Professor and director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, US 
  • Karl Dittrich, Chair of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), The Netherlands 
  • Hannes Klöpper, Managing Director, Iversity, Germany 
  • Rupert Ward, National Teaching Fellow & Head of Informatics, Department of Informatics, School of Computing and Engineering, University of Huddersfield, UK
Thursday, September 18, 2014 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Transnational Education Strategies: What Works, What Doesn’t?
This session will focus on building sustainable and successful global engagement strategies with a focus on what works and what doesn’t.
  • Robert Coelen, Vice-President International Stenden University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands
  • Nigel Healey, Pro-Vice Chancellor (International) Nottingham Trent University 
  • Eugene Sebastian, Director, Global Engagement Monash University, Melbourne
Friday, September 19, 2014 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Metrics of Success in International Student Recruitment
This session compares models of recruiting international students and corresponding metrics of success.
  • Geoff Moody Associate Vice President of International Programs Southern New Hampshire University, US 
  • Gyongyi Pozsgai Head of the International Relations Office University of Pecs, Hungary
  • Sky Zheng Director of International Recruitment University of Sunderland, UK 
I am also a panelist on a session entitled A MOOC Revolution? Strategic Considerations and Lessons Learned on Friday, September 19, 2014 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. The session is chaired by Trine Sand Director, International Education and Grants at University of Copenhagen.

More details to the sessions are available here

Look forward to the conference and engagement at the sessions. 

Related links:
Preparing for the Future of Transnational Education, The European Association for International Education (EAIE) Blog
A Question of Quality in Transnational Education, European Association for International Education (EAIE) Forum

International Branch Campuses Get Too Much Attention, University World News
Diversification Key to International Higher Education, University World News

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

AACSB Sr. VP on Global Engagement and Changes in Management Education

Sep 12, 2014

Dr. Timothy S. Mescon is the fourth president of Columbus State University. He assumed that responsibility in August 2008. Previously, for 18 years, Dr. Mescon was Dean at the Michael J. Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, where he held the Tony and Jack Dinos Eminent Scholar Chair of Entrepreneurship. Dr. Mescon is the author of more than 200 articles and cases and has co-authored four books, his latest, Entrepreneurship: Venture Initiation, Management and Development. Additionally, he has co-authored an audiotape series entitled Management Excellence. Dr. Mescon received his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, MBA from Southern Methodist University and B.A. from Tulane University. In September 2014 he was named as the inaugural Senior Vice President and Chief Officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for AACSB International, a position he will formally begin January 2015.
How exciting it is for me to be directly involved in the launch of AACSB International’s upcoming headquarters in Amsterdam, created to serve Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This venture follows an exceptionally successful five-year run of a greenfield office in Singapore, which was established to serve the Asia Pacific region.

With these initiatives in mind it is incredibly important to acknowledge that a core premise, which underlies AACSB’s Accreditation Standards, emphasizes the importance of innovation, impact and engagement. Likewise, it is essential to note that over the past quarter century, AACSB (founded in 1916) has modified its standards in 1991, 2003 and most recently in 2013. Quite simply, these evolving standards are reflective of an organization and a membership that embodies an ethos committed to reinvention, connectivity and a pervasive influence on world-class quality business and management education across the globe.

All of this is within a context of a rapidly changing business environment. Globally, there are massive fluctuations in population, technology and socioeconomics. Concurrent to this, increasing pressure calls for more active community engagement, accountability for actions, and environmental stewardship by both business and management education providers. In turn, AACSB recognizes that today’s business schools must respond to these ever changing conditions by providing distinctive knowledge and skills to students, to allow for graduates to successfully meet the various needs of the publics they will operate.

In order to do this effectively, business schools must mirror the societies in which they function, and constantly evolve curricula, content and programs to meet such needs. As a component to this, the impact on business practice must be assessed by all business programs to better develop the nexus between course and program composition, and bearing on practice and business success.

One of the great attributes of AACSB is how the organization embraces the management concept of equifinality. In the accreditation world this means there are many, many paths that might be followed that would lead to best-of-class academic instruction. In AACSB’s sphere, this includes world class educators delivering business education that provides students with the multifaceted tools required to lead organizations in tough, ever-changing, global environments. This overarching concept encourages diversity in management education. This principle also fully recognizes there are business school differences, cultural idiosyncrasies and national distinctions, and that innovation, impact and engagement look very different in different parts of the world.

To this end, in 2008 the AACSB Board of Directors elected to open an office in Singapore to serve the Asia Pacific region. Since, there has been an explosive growth in business schools both pursuing and reaching AACSB’s accreditation requirements in this vast part of the globe. Predicated on the success in Asia Pacific, the AACSB Board moved to replicate the physical expansion model and open an office to serve Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). The hard work, diligence and true passion for service to the AACSB membership that Eileen Peacock, (Senior Vice President and Chief Officer of Asia), and her entire team in Singapore have displayed is a benchmark of excellence that I will endeavor to replicate and instill within the EMEA headquarters.

Today EMEA is host to more than 3,700 institutions that award business degrees, which for perspective purposes, is more than double the current number in the US. Currently, AACSB already has a significant presence in the EMEA region. Nearly half of AACSB’s 1,430 member institutions, and fifty percent of its 716 accredited institutions outside of North America are located in EMEA. Among the same demographics of schools, 48 percent of institutions are in various stages of the accreditation process, and in the past two and a half years, more than 40 percent of non-US applications for AACSB membership have come from the EMEA region. Such numbers only reinforce AACSB’s compelling efforts to help business schools in both these developed and developing economies improve their economic impact on the regions they serve, to continue to advance management education, and to promote leading-edge knowledge and thought leadership.

I look forward to the many steps this new and exciting venture will provide. One of my first efforts will be to get reacquainted with my b-school colleagues at AACSB’s 2014 European Annual Conference, to be held October 9-11 in Grenoble. There, more than 200 attendees, across 25+ countries, will explore management education trends specific to Europe and will focus on concepts of ‘Education and Learning for Innovation’. Just as exciting, AACSB’s Europe, Middle East and Africa Accreditation Conference will be held in Istanbul, May 31-June 02, 2015. There we expect more than 200 attendees from some 20+ countries to attend this conference, embracing the opportunities that diversity and differentiation provide. Both will serve as a great jump start on a more focused approach to working aggressively and extensively with Business Schools in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Are you ready for Indian highflier students? Emerging opportunities of international recruitment and collaborations

Sep 1, 2014

Growth of self-funded academically prepared Indian students
Engaging with Indian higher education has been always been a very complex endeavour for foreign institutions. However, Indian higher education is now priming up for new opportunities to recruit students and build partnerships. This time it is different as the opportunities are largely driven by student demand as opposed to policy reform.

Soon, an emerging segment of Indian students will not only aspire to global education but will also have the ability to afford the experience. This will present new opportunities for institutions interested in engaging with India.

The traditional segment – Strivers
With nearly 200,000 students enrolled outside the country, India is the second largest source of globally mobile students. However, the number of students going abroad has grown at an anaemic pace for the last five years.

Consider the case of the United States, which enrols nearly half of all globally mobile Indian students. The number of Indian students in the US has pretty much remained the same in 2012-13 (96,754) as in 2007-08 (94,563).

One of the reasons is that Indian students are highly dependent on loans from India or financial aid from universities. Post-recession, availability of financial aid became very difficult and at the same time the devaluation of India’s currency increased the cost of studying abroad.

Another characteristic of globally mobile Indian students is that they are primarily enrolled on masters-level programmes in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – related fields. Three out of four students (78%) from India in the US were enrolled on STEM programmes as compared to only 37% of Chinese or 17% of Korean students.

Looking at globally mobile Indian students from the framework of four segments of international students – high fliers, explorers, strivers and strugglers – typical Indian students were most likely to be strivers.

As I have previously forecast, from the beginning of 2015 the biggest change in the profile of Indian students aspiring to global education will be the emergence of ‘high fliers’ – those who are academically prepared and more importantly have an ability to pay for their experiences.

The emerging segment – High fliers
The emergence of Indian ‘high flier’ students can be traced back to the economic sociology where the changes in the nature of the economy have transformed the structure of society.

In early 1990s, India went through economic reforms which opened up public sectors like telecommunication and financial services to private competition. This reform created high demand for professionals who received high salaries and a premium for their skills.

Complementing the policy reform was an unexpected opportunity offered by global IT services. The ‘Y2K’ computer glitches in the late 1990s gave birth to the Indian IT outsourcing industry which employed thousands of Indian engineers.

These new-age professionals who started their careers in the late 1990s not only had a mindset that valued saving, but also had the chance to become part of the real estate boom in India. The combination of these economic changes and opportunities enabled many professionals to amass substantial financial resources over time.

In addition, these professionals strongly believe in the value of education and hence are ready to spend on the best education for their children. One indicator of this trend of investing in education is the number of students enrolled in high-end international schools offering programmes like the international baccalaureate.

In sum, I define Indian ‘high fliers’ as children born in the late '90s to parents working in new-age industries like IT, financial services and telecommunications. Many of these ‘high flier’ students will start exploring undergraduate colleges in 2015 and many others will apply for masters programmes in a few years’ time.

Getting ready for new opportunities
A new wave of demand for global education among Indian ‘high fliers’ is set to take-off. These children of professionals who started working in new-age industries in the late '90s will create a new opportunity for foreign higher education institutions interested in engaging with India.

Making the most of the opportunity will require overcoming challenges of understanding the unique characteristics and needs of this segment. An upcoming research report will offer insights about the decision-making processes of different segments of Indian bachelor and masters degree-seeking students.

Likewise, institutions interested in building deeper engagement should explore how to create solutions that go beyond expectations for radical policy reforms like the bill that was supposed to allow entry of foreign universities to establish campuses in India.

While the growth of ‘high fliers’ in India will not be as rapid as that in China, forward-looking institutions should make the most of this opportunity by informing and adapting their internationalisation strategies to the unique needs of this segment.

Author Rahul Choudaha

Related blog posts:

Will Indian higher education move from stifling regulation to authentic quality assurance?

Aug 26, 2014

Indian higher education is in a state of flux due to an incoherent policy framework. For example, recent scrapping of the four-year degree program at the University of Delhi also affected private universities which were trying to bring four-year liberal arts program in India. What is appalling is that quality assurance framework in India is not only archaic and complex, but also lacks the capability to distinguish wheat from the chaff. While private higher education has its own challenges of quality, there are models of excellence that need to be showcased and encouraged to uplift the quality in private sector. Here is a guest blog from Dr. Vidya Rajiv Yeravdekar, head of Symbiosis International University-one of the premier private deemed-university-on unfair treatment of private higher education in India. She asks why toughest regulations are designed for private higher education which receives no funding while there is no oversight of public institutions which get all their finances from government? - Dr. Rahul Choudaha Vidya Rajiv Yeravdekar is an eminent Indian educationalist. She is renowned for her leadership in educational policy, governance, and research. A member of the Central Advisory Board of Education and former member of the University Grants Commission, she has resolutely advocated for driving higher education forward as a top agenda item. Of special interest to her is the subject of internationalization of higher education. She is also the leader of Symbiosis International University, which is at the forefront of internationalization of higher education in the country.

When will Saraswati (Goddess of learning) win Freedom?

In 1947, India won political freedom—Independence from British colonial rule. In 1991, the country won economic freedom, with the advent of the LPG trio—liberalisation, privatisation, and globalisation. We have come a long way since then, but India is yet to win educational freedom.

First things first, we can only reap what we sow—India’s public expenditure in higher education as percentage of gross domestic product is a low 0.6%. For this reason alone, it is important to open the system to competition from non-Governmental sectors. The advancement of private higher education in India has been driven by a very compelling demand in the higher education demographic, and not public policy.

The last decade has witnessed phenomenal growth of the private sector. In the year 2002, India had nearly 4400 professional colleges, of which about 3150—which account for more than 70%--were in the private sector. In the year 2012, almost 64% of the higher educational institutions were in the private sector. This growth is reflected in other parameters as well: As much as 59% of student enrolment in higher education system is in the private sector.

India has four distinct types of higher education institutions: public universities, which are established by the central government through acts of the parliament; state universities, which are established by state legislation; third, private or “self-financed” universities, which are called “deemed-to-be-universities” and are governed by section three of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act; and private universities in states, established through the Private University Act.

The commonly called private universities do not receive a single rupee for development from the Indian Government. They subsist on the revenues that they gather from tuition fees. Be that as it may, students, who are the most important stake holders and beneficiaries of the higher education system, clearly prefer private universities to public. This is mainly because the private universities offer more with respect to enhancement of the employability aspect of the student’s repertoire. Moreover, private universities generally offer choices in programs that are career oriented such as engineering, management, and architecture, compared with public universities, which mainly focus on “general education” programs in humanities and social sciences.

Notwithstanding the above, the Indian Government reserves its most stringent regulatory measures for the private institutions. Even more bizarre is that public universities, which receive government funding to the tune of millions of rupees, are allowed to operate with only minimal regulations. In an ironic twist, public intuitions, which do not enrol students to full capacity, are left off scot-free, whereas private universities, which are highly selective in their student intake in spite of higher tuition, are burdened with inordinately heavy regulatory mechanisms. It is distressing to note the paternalistic and directorial stance that the regulatory bodies assume in dealing with the “nuts and bolts” of academic processes. 

The recent nation-wide debates and protests over the University Grants Commission’s stand on four-year undergraduate courses is a case in point. The fact of the Commission’s attack on some such programs, without a modicum of investigation into the structure and components of the programs and the manner in which it was carried out, with shocking disregard for the students and institutions can only be considered worrying. 

Also curious is the case that the regulatory agencies come down the hardest on institutions that enjoy solid reputations for quality and integrity: the IITs, IISc, Symbiosis International University, and Shiv Nadar University. Indeed, it is because these institutions have enjoyed greater autonomy that they tower over the legion of low-achieving state universities, which are the way they are partly because they enjoy far less institutional self-governance. One wonders what conceivable purpose is served by the government agencies’ harmful interference, other than, of course, providing the bureaucrats an opportunity to make a show of being engaged with the higher education system. Carl Lewis’ thought comes to mind: “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”

A long standing debate in India relates to the extent to which the Indian Government be duly and justly allowed to intervene in the supervision of the higher education institutions. Increasingly, it is being suggested that the “invisible hand of the market” be allowed more power to modulate the higher education system through the free play of the rising and dipping arms of the scale of demand and supply. It is time that India wakens to the advancements taking place to its East and West. The judgement of quality of education rests with the student, as much as it does with other entities. More and more, it is being stressed that student perceptions and judgement is an important, albeit neglected, marker of institutional quality. Similarly, it is also being put forth the world over that the boundaries between public and private are superfluous and must be relegated to the background. The present day student is well-informed and discriminating, guided as he is by legion of sources, both official and otherwise.

It is about time that the “licence Raj” be made to give way to regulatory methods that allow for authentic quality assurance. It is hoped that in the manner in which Bharat Mata (Mother India) got freedom in 1947 and Laxmi Mata (Goddess of wealth) got freedom in 1991, Saraswati Mata (Goddess of learning), too, will get freedom in the twenty-first century.

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