Transnational Education: Deep Engagement of Australian and British Universities

Australian and British higher education system is more global than American. This is evident from larger proportion of international students in the higher education system (Australia=21%, UK=15% and US=3% – OECD). At another level, Australian and British universities are more “transnational” in their offerings.

Transnational education (TNE) is simply defined as education provision from one country to another through a variety of delivery modes including distance and online, validation and franchising, twinning and collaborative arrangements. More formally, UNESCO/Council of Europe defines 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”.

Nearly half of all international education activity for the UK and 31% for Australia is through TNE or “offshore” provision. In terms of absolute numbers, more than 400,000 students were enrolled in the UK institutions through TNE mode and more than 100,000 students were enrolled in Australian institutions. This is a significant scope of activity not only in terms of absolute numbers but also as a proportion of international activity.


However, there are already several challenges in terms of quality assurance for transnational education. One recent example had been the case of the University of Wales. Altbach defined the phenomenon of franchising as “The McDonaldization of higher education” and noted “It is very hard to adequately monitor what is being done in the name of an institution far away.”

While quality challenges for TNE needs to be addressed, growth and innovation should not be hindered.


Additional resources:
The future of transnational education
Transnational education in the European context

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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