Growth in ‘glocal’ students in transnational education programs for England

Transnational education is an increasingly important pathway for international students coming to the UK. They typically transfer from an overseas partner institution and then continue to stay to earn postgraduate program. This is the core finding of a recent research entitled “Transnational pathways to higher education in England” from HEFCE.

It notes that a third of the international (non EU) entrants to first degree programs (17,140 entrants) in England were transnational students, who transferred directly from overseas partner institutions. While this is a significant proportion of overall number of students enrolling in first degree programs, looking deeper into source countries, we notice that it driven by couple of countries. China and Malaysia form nearly 70% of transnational students transferring from overseas partners to England. Another interesting point is that there is very little traction for TNE programs among Indian students.

The report notes that transnational is providing a pathway for value-seeking students as they “give students greater flexibility over where to study towards their degree – in England, or at the home-based institution or branch campus. In addition to the lower cost associated with shorter periods of study abroad, transnational pathways are also time efficient” (p.15). In addition to value-seekers, I argue that there are students who enroll in TNE programs due to ease in accessing global education.

I hypothesize that there are two dimensions of TNE students:
1) those who are challenged by financial resources and hence seek lower cost (or value)
2) those who are challenged by academic preparedness and hence seek lower admissions standards

I have defined these TNE students as ‘glocal‘ students based on the framework of international student segments.

Janet Ilieva, former Head of Economic and Qualitative Analysis of HEFCE notes in her blog that “The increase in transnational pathways for international student recruitment may also change the way English universities and colleges engage with overseas institutions.” She adds that “The nature of these pathways underlines the need to engage strategically by forging alliances with likeminded institutions overseas, underpinned by an in-depth understanding of the other countries’ education system.”

Clearly, TNE is not only becoming bigger in scale but also more complex in the nature of international partnerships and quality assurance mechanisms. In my previous articles, I have mentioned that the issue of assuring quality in TNE and deepening the understanding of ‘glocal’ students will be integral to the long-term sustainable growth of innovative transnational education models.

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Dr. Rahul Choudaha