This article is more than 7 years old

HEFCE transnational education report

A report released today by HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) looks investing in transnational education and its impact on student mobility. Emily Lupton summarises the report.
This article is more than 7 years old

Emily Lupton graduated from the University of Lincoln in 2014 with a degree in Journalism. She worked for Wonkhe as Graduate Editor for a year before moving onto other journalistic pursuits.

A report released today by HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) looks investing in transnational education and its impact on student mobility.

The report found that over a third (34 per cent or 16,500 entrants) of all international entrants to first degree studies in the UK are recruited from transnational courses delivered overseas by UK higher education providers, or partners working on their behalf. A high proportion of these students are from China and Malaysia which account for an estimated 70 per cent of all transnational entrants to first degree programmes in England.

More than half of all first degree students from China (55 per cent) and Malaysia (63 per cent) start their first degree directly from UK higher education delivered overseas. These two countries, aside from Singapore, are among the largest countries for British transnational education.

Nigeria and Hong Kong contributed 550 and 500 entrants respectively and from Vietnam students taking a transnational route to first degree programmes in England has increased from 18 per cent (85 entrants) in 2009-10 to 38 per cent (350 entrants) in 2012-13.

Higher education institutions (HEIs) with lower entry requirements are most reliant on transnational students, who made up more than half (55 per cent or 5,900 entrants) of the international entrants to first degree programmes in 2012-13. HEIs with a high average tariff score had a lower proportion of transnational students at 16 per cent (3,200 entrants) and HEIs with a medium average tariff score had an almost equal split.

Transnational students have slightly softened the decline of direct entry international students to first degree courses experienced by some institutions. Although at high tariff HEIs both transnational and other international entrants have steadily increased from 2009-12, at low and mid tariff HEIs the numbers are more varied. For low tariff HEIs transnational entrants appear to have mitigated the decline of international entrants using other pathways.

Courses with a duration of one year or less were the main driver of growth in the numbers of international students arriving through transnational pathways. In China 66 per cent of entrants (5,450 students) had expected course lengths between two and three years compared to the majority of entrants (56 per cent or 1,800 students) from Malaysia having course lengths of one year or less.

Courses lasting up to one year increased proportionally between 2009-10 and 2012-13 from 28 per cent (3,700 entrants) to 33 per cent (5,500 entrants). In 2010-11 courses with a duration of one year or less grew by 24 per cent (900 entrants). The draw of shorter courses may be partly attributed to the global financial crisis of 2008-9.

This shift to shorter courses mean that HEIs in England must work hard to keep a stable recruitment and rely heavily on consistently high numbers of international entrants to first degree programmes.

Transnational pathways appear to be contributing to postgraduate programmes as well as first degrees. About a third of all transnational students on first degree programmes go on to postgraduate study in England.

Some 5,100 students who started first degree programmes in 2010-11 were continuing at postgraduate level by 2012-13. The majority of these students (82 per cent or 4,130 students in 2012-13) were from China. This is a proportion of 56 per cent of the total transnational entrants in from China in 2010-11. Students from elsewhere have relatively low transition rates with 8 per cent (240 students) from Malaysia, 20 per cent (95 students) from Nigeria, 12 per cent (90 students) from India and 37 per cent (70 students) from Vietnam.

Transnational students are proving vital to HEIs across the UK, increasingly so for higher education. These students make up a large portion of all international students in the UK particularly for low tariff HEIs.

On the other hand, many of these transnational students are opting for shorter courses of up to one year (excluding Chinese students) which puts strain on English HEIs recruiting international students. Although happily a large amount of transnational students are continuing to study in the UK with a postgraduate degree, particularly Chinese transnational students.

Madeline Atkins, HEFCE’s Chief Executive said:

“‘Higher education has become vastly more mobile in the past decade. The number of UK providers delivering higher education in other countries has grown significantly.

“In the light of this research we can see the importance of long-term commitment and a strategic approach to transnational education. Some institutions have been particularly successful in this arena, and dedicated partnerships built on mutuality and reciprocity emerge as the foundations of their achievements.”

Read the full report here.

Leave a Reply