Transnational Education
Transnational education is an important sector of international student travel as education providers understand the value of creating collaborative or branch campuses overseas, as Bethan Norris reports.

Recent studies by the British Council in the UK and Australia's Department of Education show that demand for transnational education from UK and Australian providers is strong. In 2015, 109,541 students were either studying at Australian off-shore campuses or via Australian distance learning programmes - representing 30 per cent of all HE international students in Australian education. Meanwhile in the UK, there were 701,010 transnational education students recorded during the 2015/2016 academic year (including those taking online courses), an increase of 5.6 per cent on the previous year.


Obvious factors that have influenced the uptake of transnational education in recent years are the lower costs involved for students as well as the lack of visa regulations. When offered the prospect of gaining a qualification from a reputable foreign university in their own or neighbouring country for a vastly reduced fee, few international students would be able to deny their interest. Even in countries where higher education is free for local students, demand for UK, US or Australian qualifications is high. Karel Klusak, Manager of Intact in the Czech Republic explains, "I believe that most Czech alumni get work in the multinationals abroad or in the Czech Republic and may try and get jobs in Brussels or in the Czech government. The students studying in the foreign university branches belong to the economic elite of this country, so they may find the jobs I mentioned easier than an ordinary student."


Rather than competing with overseas education options, transnational education can widen the potential student base within a market. Kompit Panasupon, from MAC International Education Consultant Agency in Thailand says that transnational education is attractive to a different demographic than those wanting to study overseas. "Students who enrol in international institutions in Thailand mostly are working, have financial limitations, domestic responsibilities or simply do not want to study overseas. However, they would like an overseas or internationally recognised accreditation." He adds, "The more well-to-do families would send their children abroad not only for education but also for the prestige of being abroad."


While branch campuses and collaborative projects can be found throughout the world, certain countries have established a regulatory environment that actively welcomes such projects. Dubai, Malaysia and Singapore are particular destinations that have welcomed new off-shore campuses and collaborations with providers from all education sectors based in the UK, Australia and USA in recent years. A new regulation change in Thailand could also see this country welcoming foreign university branch campuses in the future, as new rules were introduced earlier this year as part of a national strategy to drive economic growth and innovation.


Kompit believes that demand for transnational education will continue to increase in Thailand in the coming years. "It is more cost effective," he says, "and students will still be eligible to continue working during studies. Transnational education institutions have an emphasis on children of expats; global branded boarding schools; Thai nationals who are either career focused and do not want to leave their current job; or anyone who would like to study via an international curriculum whilst still in Thailand." He continues, "To name a few countries that have succeeded with transnational studies are Malaysia, Singapore and United Arab Emirates. There are also talks from the current governments to make the policies more friendly for branch campuses."


A recent report, International Branch Campuses, Trends and Developments 2016, published by the Observatory of Borderless Higher Education last year, revealed that there are now 249 international branch campuses located in more than 70 countries worldwide. The report also estimates that there are at least 180,000 students physically enrolled in branch campuses, about four per cent of the five million international students in the world. The top host    countries for branch campuses are China (32 campuses), United Arab Emirates (31), Singapore (12), Malaysia (12) and Qatar (11).


While transnational education may seem like a more affordable and easier option for many, Kamil Acero from in the USA believes that it does not replace the experience of travelling to another country to study. "We have found that students prefer to study in the main campus," says Kamil. "Part of having an education overseas is also the experience you have. Students do not get the same experience if they go to a branch campus as opposed to going to the main. Also, the main campus has better facilities and the most qualified professors teach at the main campus. A branch campus may be able to provide the same degree but not the same education and experience."



Transnational education in Germany and beyond

Dr Kurt Gamerschlag, Chair of the German Association of American Study Abroad Programs (AASAP) and Treasurer of the new European Association of Study Abroad (EUASA) talks to StudyTravel Magazine about the development of transnational education in Germany and elsewhere.


"The German association has some 25 members who are all resident Directors of American university programmes in Germany, some with their own campus - like Stanford - others more or less integrated in a host university. On the EUASA level with, at present, seven national associations, we represent some 250 incoming American university programmes in Europe - the oldest being some 60+ years old with student numbers going into tens of thousands.


So, transnational education is old hat for all of us as far as our student public, i.e. North Americans, is concerned. Nearly all of these programmes are, however, closed to students who are not enrolled in an American university. A different scene is American branch campuses like Bard College or Truro College in Berlin that recruit international as well as national students in loco. These are fairly new developments; much older are Study Centers like the DIS in Copenhagen or the AIB Study Center in Bonn that offer academic for-credit programmes for universities which do not want to run their own programmes but would want them to be organised by a third-party provider on its own campus and in cooperation with local universities.


The long and the short of it: it´s a very variegated scene out there - and I am only talking about the European-American scene here. German universities have recently started campuses in Cairo, Beijing etc., Australians and New Zealanders are all over the place, and, I expect, British universities as well. The educational export business is a huge industry by now with many different models. It needs careful distinction as to what is what."



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