With a growing movement in transnational education, universities have a new challenge in achieving equality - how can they ensure all students have access to the same publications?
Transnational education (TNE), the delivery of UK education overseas, is a rapidly growing part of universities' international strategies. TNE occupies a significant part of the UK international education portfolio, with 11% of cumulative international fee revenues and an estimated annual value of £496 million to the UK economy (2015). The UK is the second largest provider of TNE in the world, delivering in all but five countries, and with over 700,000 students being educated on UK courses.
Parity of experience
Creating an experience for students studying overseas, which is at least equivalent to that being delivered in the home institution, is a critical element of transnational education.
A Universities UK International (UUKi) report published in June 2017 found that there had been an 81% increase in the number of UK HE TNE students since 2008-09 and these students need to be nurtured and supported by various means, including a robust technological infrastructure to be able to reliably support such teaching and learning programmes. The requirements of staff supporting the delivery of high-quality UK TNE, wherever in the world that may be, also need to be factored in.
So why is the sector struggling with the less technologically challenging issue of gaining access to published materials for overseas learners?
It’s currently still a complex environment for universities when it comes to providing access to published content deals for their transnational programmes, but one that needs to be navigated. The new pilot we are launching in TNE consortium licensing is a real opportunity to give staff and students the equity of experience transnational higher education seeks to provide, regardless of their geographical location.
Librarians are unanimous in seeking a simpler, less labour-intensive solution to create access to key resources, and to give students themselves the standard of higher education they expect from a UK university - one where journals, databases and e-books are readily available to support course requirements.
In this growing field of TNE, librarians need to have an understanding of the nature of their partner agreements, learners, and the implications of different publishers' approaches to overseas pricing and licensing, which vary both by country and by ‘arm’ of the local publisher.
Universities are currently having to negotiate directly with publishers for library resource access to incorporate their students and supporting staff located abroad. In turn, some publishers have already indicated they would welcome a more streamlined licensing process, to bring efficiencies and economies of scale, which align with Jisc’s core licensing programme. A key factor in the success of this pilot therefore depends on both library and publisher engagement.
Our support for TNE
Our TNE support programme has been working to achieve services to support TNE over the last few years. Through research and education networks - such as the Janet Network - Jisc enables seamless connectivity between global sites, which means fast, efficient and high-quality infrastructure to support TNE. We are now exploring other areas where we are able to support our members internationally, such as through this pilot.
We believe centralised negotiated agreements with publishers will relieve universities of much of this TNE burden, and go a long way to increasing the availability of affordable library resources for these learners, improving the parity of overseas student experience with their UK counterparts.
By using the experience of Jisc Collections in engaging with publishers and aggregators of content, we aim to take a leading role in establishing agreements with publishers to bring together the common interests, and pricing and licensing requirements of those delivering programmes beyond UK borders. We hope to develop a simple and agreed licensing approach and process, tried and tested with pilot organisations and key publishers, which keeps pace with the delivery of international education.
Through this TNE licensing pilot – launched this month, it is anticipated that universities will have simpler options to be able to include additional users into their licence agreements. Adopting similar robust approaches used for our current Jisc Collections consortium service, we will negotiate transparent pricing terms and discounts on behalf of TNE consortium members. We will also coordinate licensing and payment processes to reduce complexity and return savings to the sector. This should also lower risk for individual institutions and release funding back into the sector.
Influence from the sector
A key factor in the success of this pilot depends on harnessing common interests. Under the guidance of a steering group, including academic institutions and key sector agencies, we will work with representatives of the higher education community, publishers, and other partners, to implement and deliver the pilot - by testing models and developing solutions to these common issues which many of our members and partners may face.
The pilot aims to achieve:
- Local cost savings for HEIs and publishers by removing the duplication of effort in negotiation, licensing and ordering
- Agreed methodologies for applying fees and discounts for access to resources
- Standardised approach, nomenclature and licence terms bringing clarity and transparency
- Efficiencies to HEIs and publishers in ordering, paying and licence acceptance for inclusion of additional authorised users located at partner organisations and campuses abroad
The pilot couldn’t be more timely, with research figures from the Higher Education and Policy Institute predicting a decrease of 20,000 in applications from international students post-Brexit, the TNE offer is an essential part of the future of the higher education economy.
It is also an important export commodity, with the Department for International Trade establishing their own cross-sector TNE forum, in addition to a new Education Export Advisory Group, for the education sector to explore global trade and investment opportunities, and discuss how the government can provide support.
To establish a network of interested parties and inform the development of the pilot, a JiscMail group has been established and a community survey will be distributed during November to capture key information needed. A workshop is planned for Tuesday 30 January 2018 for institutions that want to be included in the pilot negotiations and you can register your interest for the event.
To find out more about our TNE licensing pilot and to join the JiscMail group, contact email@example.com. For more information on our TNE support programme, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.