Dr. John Law of the British Council was among the many education experts to gather in London at the 4th Annual Gulf Education Conference Exposition. Shortly after serving on the panel called “The International Business of Higher Education: Future Scenarios," Dr. Law answered some questions for Noodle on what he and his panel addressed at the conference.
Dr. Law’s presentation started with an overview of drivers that were forcing change, from both a U.K. Government and a higher education sector point of view. Some of these include international partnerships, graduate employability and entrepreneurship, student satisfaction, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). He then talked about the impact of one of these factors: Transnational Education (TNE).
Transnational Education (TNE) is a component of the internationalization of education. The general principle of TNE is that students can get a degree at a foreign institute without leaving their home country. It includes online and distance learning, validation and franchising, and international branch campuses, according to the Horizon Scanning report.
There has been a massive growth in TNE programs, more research-led universities have been engaging in TNE, and there is evidence of employers favoring TNE graduates, Dr. Law said in his presentation. TNE is “increasingly being seen as a significant priority institutionally, and part of internationalization strategies," he said. (The findings in his presentation are based on one of the British Council’s The Shape of Things to Come series reports).
According to Dr. Law, TNE is having a number of impacts on the host country regarding academic, economic, human resource development, and socio-cultural outcomes. Dr. Law cites that the Human Development Index appears to be positively correlated with TNE activity. Meaning, countries who have TNEs also tend to have more advanced economic and educational structures.
According to the Horizon Scanning Report, TNE will continue to expand due to growing demand. Data collected in the Shape of Things to Come report suggests that TNE will grow quickly in terms of scale (programs and student enrollment) and scope (diversity of delivery modes and location of delivery).
The number of students studying their entire U.K. qualification outside the U.K. experienced a 21 percent increase in 2011-2012, a third more than it did in 2010-2011, Dr. Law said in his presentation. “There are 78 countries where at least as many students study a U.K. higher education qualification in that country compared to the number of students traveling to the U.K. for their education," he added.
So, it seems, the number of TNE students and programs will continue to rise in the next couple years.
“It was obvious from the people I met at the gala dinner that this conference attracts people from outside the Gulf States, with wider interests across the range of MENA [Middle East and North Africa] countries," he said. “It will be interesting to see how the conference organizers respond to this: Will they stick with the Gulf Education brand or switch to something more inclusive?"
Inclusiveness seems to be one of the growing trends in education. Governments, higher education institutions, and businesses need to continue to come together and form partnerships for a continual success in international education. The single most important takeaway from the conference according to Dr. Law is that there’s an “appetite for working internationally in partnership."
Ahmed, M., Angulo, T., Axel-Berg, A., Burrows, A., Lawton, W., Katsomitros, A. (2013, Sept. 09). Horizon scanning: What will higher education look like in 2020? Retrieved from The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education.
British Council (2013, Sept. 05). The shape of things to come: The evolution of transnational education: data, definitions, opportunities and impacts analysis. Retrieved from the British Council.
Law, J. (2014, April 02). Retrieved from email interview.
Photo courtesy of Charles Henry