Thursday 06 September 2012

A rise in global student interest in transnational education opens up opportunities for UK universities to expand internationally, British Council research shows

New strategies that support the distinctive nature of the trans-national education [TNE] community are necessary if UK universities are to capitalise from the rise in interest in TNE courses around the world, according to new research released today by the British Council.

As government statistics reveal that the number of student visas issued by UKBA fell by 30 per cent in the twelve months to June 2012, compared with the same period in 2011, the British Council’s research ‘Portrait of a Transnational Education Student’ finds a trend that that the number of students around the world who are considering TNE courses is rising. In 2011, 23% of over 21,000 students surveyed said they would express an interest, compared to 17% in 2010. In 2012, 28% of the 11,000 students surveyed so far have expressed an interest.

Commenting on the research, the report’s author, British Council Education Intelligence research manager Zainab Malik said “If UK universities can successfully adapt their offer to local markets, the trend suggests there is huge potential. Increasingly TNE will be about extending and building new partnerships, and adapting courses to suit the unique demands of prospective TNE students.”

Ms Malik advised. “The importance of partnerships, proper delivery of curriculum, and catering to the needs of local TNE students are essential to the sustainability and competitiveness of UK TNE programmes. Universities cannot just apply UK courses to local markets”.

The employment opportunities that the TNE course provides is more important to TNE students than the ‘brand’ of the institution; potential TNE students prioritise how the degree supports their career aspirations and lifestyle, over the reputation of the awarding institution.

50% of students thinking about a post-graduate TNE courses are in employment. The relevance of the course to the student’s current employment means that the soft skills they will develop are as important as the academic curricula.

TNE students display more allegiance to each other and the programme than to their host university.

In terms of mode of delivery, students unanimously responded that a sizeable face-to-face component was non-negotiable, and spoke strongly of human contact being a source of motivation, support, and efficient teaching.

TNE has always sought to cater for students by making use of the most advanced communications technology. What the research shows, however, is that institutions must now offer as much face to face (in person and synchronous) as possible to satisfy student demand and enhance learning.

“TNE is the face of international expansion.” Ms Malik said. “In order to remain globally competitive, UK universities should recognize and take account of the distinct TNE student community and its university partners in different markets. The TNE student community is different in many respects from traditional on-campus students – what they are looking for, how they learn, and the skills they seek are different.”


STUDENT INSIGHT HOT TOPICS: Portrait of a Transnational Education Student is the latest report in a new research series from the British Council’s Education Intelligence global higher education service. This series is based on student decision-making data collected since February 2007 via Education Intelligence’s ongoing questionnaire-based survey, with 160,000 responses collected globally as of September 2012.

Copies of the report are available via the British Council’s Education Intelligence website. If you have already registered on the IHE website, please" href="" target="_blank">log-in here to purchase a copy. Otherwise, please register at" href="" target="_blank">

Watermarked copies of the report are available to journalists on request.

For more information, please contact Tim Sowula, Snr Press Officer, or +44207 389 4871


About the British Council

The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations.

Our 7000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes.

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