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TNE management needs more than diligence alone

Paul Fear

Chief Executive
British Accreditation Council

Last week, HEGlobal hosted a seminar in the TreeHouse at the University of York, exploring the latest developments in regulatory quality expectations, and how universities can effectively implement and maintain due diligence for TNE management. Far from having our heads in the clouds, the setting allowed for bluesky thinking about the challenges of a growing UK TNE portfolio and approaches to due diligence. Paul Fear, Chief Executive of the British Accreditation Council, chaired the seminar. He reflects here on the morning’s discussions, and his predictions as to the future challenges for the UK’s TNE as it continues to grow.​

The HEGlobal conference, ‘Keeping up with due diligence for TNE’ highlighted the size and diversity of the UK’s HE TNE provision.  As is stands today, there are more international students studying British higher education courses outside of the UK than within the UK. The greatest area of international student growth for the UK is offshore delivery. UK higher education is diverse, and known for its high quality. It follows that that have a vibrant and broad offering which is attractive to students and institutions around the globe.  

The morning showcased some excellent examples of TNE with three institutions describing the challenges they had faced and overcome in their TNE work.  A key factor in their success was the support and leadership provided by senior management. Those figures lent the necessary weight required to cut across departmental boundaries to develop academic, pastoral and administrative systems. These systems and processes enabled the institutions to successfully engage with their overseas partners.

Two other factors came to the fore:
  1. Institutions need a common framework which encourages transparency and creates certainty when negotiating and managing TNE contracts.  With multiple agencies operating across the HE sector coordination and cooperation between regulatory agencies should be improved and the emphasis placed on supporting institutions and ensuring a comprehensive and transparent system for ensuring the ‘British’ brand is protected.
  2. Within institutions there are experienced and knowledgeable individuals who have built up a wealth of experience.  The real problem is that opportunities for sharing information are limited.  The maintenance of a competitive HE sector means that there may never be full disclosure between institutions but open forums for sharing experiences and information that will support the development of TNE would benefit the entire sector.

For me, the challenges ahead lie in developing a comprehensive TNE framework which encourages diversity, competition but maintains standards and protects the uniqueness of the ‘British’ brand. We need  to create an ecosystem for knowledge and information sharing to further enhance and support TNE. HEGlobal is well positioned to help, through continuing to offer forums for discussions and shared learning, promoting the UK’s TNE offer globally and liaising with counterparts overseas to minimise the challenges in international operations, and delivering information resources that equip our universities with key data for planning and strategy.