On 22 October 2018, the British Council brought together nearly 40 quality assurance agencies and decision makers from the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia, China, the UAE, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and Indonesia to share and discuss ways forward for joint quality assurance in transnational education (TNE) between the UK and East Asia.

TNE is of growing importance in East Asia – enrolments in the region have tripled since 2007. In a world where intraregional student mobility is growing rapidly it is good news demand for joint degrees here is strong. In this context interagency cooperation is very important to prepare us well for the future in higher education.

From a UK perspective, TNE is growing faster than direct student recruitment to the UK. In Malaysia, the UK is the leader with more than 80 TNE partnerships and 5 UK campuses with various models. A few countries account for the majority of enrolments – Malaysia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Others like Thailand, the Philippines and even Myanmar are rapidly increasing their TNE offers.

We know TNE brings benefits – that a strong focus on joint delivery and ownership will lead to quality improvements. There is a direct relationship between TNE and the level of a country’s internationalisation where increasing capacity creates opportunities for mobility, exchange and joint degrees. There is also opportunity for expansion and internal review, as well as for growth in curriculum development and partnerships through TNE.

But, what are key challenges of quality assurance for TNE in East Asia? How could country agencies work together? Could there be scope for developing common standards for TNE provision? These and many other questions were explored in the session and put in further detail in the report below. 

The objectives of the programme was to: 

• Raise the importance of inter-agency cooperation for more efficient oversight of TNE delivery

• Present various models of cross-border cooperation in the quality assurance of TNE

• Re-affirming the importance of international cultural exchanges and cooperation; and more specifically its growing role in leading and supporting the growth of quality UK TNE

The panel session closed with an open discussion amongst all participants

Areas of discussion were:

  •  What are key challenges of quality assurance process for TNE programmes?
  •  How could country agencies work together to avoid unnecessary regulatory gaps?
  •  How can country agencies work together to support the growth of quality and relevant TNE provision, and safeguard the TNE student experience?
  •  What are the key obstacles to undertaking joint-review activity with other agencies and/or recognising other agencies’ quality assurance decisions?
  •  Could there be scope for developing common standards for TNE provision?

To know more about the discussion, please download the forum report below. 

See also