In the first, we heard from Simon Edwards about
Education is GREAT and how institutions can align their marketing and social
media presence with the Study
UK: Discover You campaign to get added impact. From awards and campaign films
featuring alumni to scholarships, the session explored the practical help
available. You could also see the potential for specialist universities to build
links across the different pillars of the GREAT Britain campaign, for example
on our creative industries: creative
focused universities alone contribute at least £8.4 billion to the UK economy.
In the second we explored current trends in
transnational education (TNE) and looked in depth at the 30-year-old partnership
between Abertay and SEGi Universities.
Janet Ilieva showed that since 2009–10, while
the numbers of students coming to study in the UK have stagnated, TNE has kept
on growing. And the evidence suggests growth is set to continue. Rising disposable income and many countries’
desire to develop their own higher education systems mean that demand for UK degrees
and expertise supports further expansion in TNE.
Professor Steve Olivier
and Professor Dr Patrick Kee Peng Kong described how the oldest UK/Malaysia
higher education evolved. Beginning with accountancy the range of courses has
developed to include business, marketing, IT, civil engineering and MBAs: there
are now 1,350 students studying Abertay degrees in Malaysia and the number is
set to grow year on year. Evolution of the partnership is constant with the
next phase involving more shared teaching, including
technological innovations, and research links.
Steve and Patrick talked frankly about the
inevitable frustrations and difficulties caused by different teaching styles
and expectations and by different regulatory regimes. But they were clear these
were far outweighed by the benefits. For Abertay, these included a more stable
form of international activity than teaching overseas students in Scotland,
where UKVI rules can bite particularly hard and arbitrarily on smaller
institutions (with Steve referencing Alex
Bols’s recent WonkHE blog).
But if UK politicians
see TNE as the way of squaring their self-drawn circle
of saying they support education exports while continuing to count students in
migration targets then it was clear they should think again. Firstly, TNE isn’t
a wholly separate activity, isolated from teaching people in this country –
HEFCE figures show that one third of
the first-degree international students in England commenced their programme
overseas by the means of a TNE course. As such they spend on average between
one and two years here in the UK. Secondly, the overriding message from Abertay
and SEGi was that successful and sustainable TNE has to
be a partnership of equals – off-shoring UK higher education for national financial
gain while erecting barriers to international student mobility won’t wash.
Two years ago, GuildHE published Excellence in
Diversity to celebrate the teaching, research and knowledge exchange in smaller,
regionally-focused and specialist institutions. We made the case that UK higher
education was excellent, in part because it was so diverse. And we challenged
the stereotype that international engagement was only for big universities
saying, “All institutions across the sector are now – to a greater or lesser
extent – part of a global community of research, teaching and professional
practice”. This year’s International Higher Education Forum was a perfect
illustration of that fact.