Global market in transnational education by Nigel Healey

Transnational education in its various forms had been growing both in quantity and qualitative complexity. I came across Prof. Healey’s informative slides on TNE from QS-APPLE conference and asked him to narrate the key conclusions. I especially found slide #10/11 about “Oxford Brookes effect” quite interesting. This is primarily an effect of Oxford Brookes’ partnership with ACCA offered in several countries including Pakistan and Sri Lanka. A report by the 1994 Group explains that the “Data on ‘students studying wholly outside the UK’ is skewed by large numbers studying at Oxford Brooks. Oxford Brookes started returning data in 2008/09 for students studying for a BSc in Applied Accounting in partnership with ACCA. This BSc is a partnerships with ACCA where students on the ACCA programme receive a BSc qualifi cation from Oxford Brookes if they submit a satisfactory “Research and Analysis Project” to Oxford Brookes.” (p.14).

Nigel Healey
Nottingham Trent University, UK

Professor Nigel Healey is Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) and Head of the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University. He has previously held positions as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) and Dean of the College of Business and Economics at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), Dean of Manchester Metropolitan University Business School and Jean Monnet
Chair of European Economic Studies at the University of Leicester. His current research focuses on the internationalisation of higher education, with particular reference to the Asia-Pacific region, and developments in higher education policy nationally and internationally.


Higher education has become a major global industry. The most striking dimension of this internationalisation has been the rise in the number of students studying at universities outside their own country. The equally rapid increase in the number of students studying for a foreign degree without leaving their home country has,
however, attracted less attention. UNESCO defines this form of transnational education (TNE) as ‘all types of higher education study programmes, sets of study courses, 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’. For some countries, notably the UK, there are now more foreign students
studying for awards offshore than studying on-campus in the UK.

This presentation provides an overview of the types of TNE activity and discusses the broad trends and developments in this rapidly evolving, and largely unregulated, international market. It concludes that the data for TNE are still not reliable and that it is difficult to make meaningful comparisons about the growth of TNE relative to the more conventional export education.

It finds that THE has been mainly focused on Asia, driven by high economic growth, rapid population growth (in 18-22 year old range) and the lack of capacity and quality in domestic higher education sector. Going forward, it seems likely that TNE will experience some slowdown, as demographics reduce demand, the capacity and quality of Asian universities improves and tougher host quality assurance regimes
negatively impact Western providers.

There is already evidence that the traditional principal-agent (university-foreign private college) model may have limited life span in Asia and that some universities are beginning to scale back this form of TNE. It is probable that franchise activity may switch to other emerging markets in Africa and Latin America, especially in some of the newly emerging hubs where government policy seeks to attract foreign providers, notably Dubai and Qatar. Continued TNE in Asia looks likely to be move towards international branch campuses rather than franchising, but this may be a very limited market.

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