In response to the growing demand from the education community, we are addressing technological support for transnational education, providing cost-effective, appropriate and reliable solutions and services overseas.
Transnational education (TNE) is an area of significance and growth in the UK education sector. It refers to the provision of education from institutions in one country to students in another.
The range and number of TNE activities, such as remote campuses and joint degree programmes, continue to grow rapidly to address international customer demand for UK education. This is most visible within higher education, but there is also activity within further education and schools. TNE is distinct from both international student recruitment and international research collaboration, however mobility needs to be multidirectional, and the boundaries between incoming and outgoing mobility and TNE are blurring.
The TNE landscape
The UK is the second largest provider of international education with a 10% share of the global market. Transnational education (TNE) - as defined by the British Council - is ‘the mobility of higher education programmes and institutions/providers across international borders’ and represents an increasingly growing 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 in 2015.
A 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, with the current number of students studying for UK degree programmes overseas standing at 701,010 compared with the 438,000 international students on-campus in the UK recorded in 2015/16. This is an increase of 5.3% on the previous year, and 17% since 2012. Additionally, 2015-16 saw 27,400 UK students choose to study for part of their degree overseas, classed as ‘outward mobility’ rather than TNE.
How we are supporting TNE
Historically, our offerings have been delivered almost exclusively within the UK. However, in response to the growing demand from the education community, we have made a strategic decision to improve the support we offer for the sectors’ both established, and developing, TNE activities.
Through our TNE support programme we seek to improve the technology that underpins TNE activities, with a view to improving student and staff access to materials, and providing a seamless learning environment between home and overseas operations. This fundamentally relies on cost-effective and reliable connectivity; we have already enhanced our portfolio to enable overseas campuses to be connected to home institutions in the UK. This integrates with our UK-based operations, including the Janet Network and Jisc’s range of services in technology and digital resources, to support TNE delivery on a global basis.
In order to understand the sectors’ TNE technology needs, in 2014 we commissioned the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE) to conduct market research, initially for our higher education customers. For further information see the market intelligence section below. We have been developing our expertise and understanding of the UK demands, TNE markets and associated infrastructure since this time along with other sector organisations such as the British Council and Universities UK international.
Following discussions with customers and policymakers, we engaged the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHe), an international higher education research and monitoring unit, to secure a better understanding of the UK HE sector’s TNE plans in the near-to-medium term. This research represented an ‘early-warning system’ to enable us to proactively prepare and develop a sustainable strategy for future requirements, including the provision of bandwidth and network connectivity overseas.
The research focused on two distinct constituencies within HEIs involved in planning and delivery of TNE, those working in the International Office or international strategy and planning (IO), and IT-related or technical staff (IT). The research had two main components: a series of regional focus groups to yield indications of current thinking on network connectivity abroad, and an online survey, live throughout July 2014. Responses were received from an overall total of 84 distinct HEIs – more than half the number of institutions targeted.
Findings and recommendations
The report, published in January 2015, can be found in the outputs section below.
Findings supported broader sector information on the various TNE delivery models, with online and partnership-type operations outweighing branch campuses and respondents placing greater weight on online and distance provision for the future. More surprising, and fundamental, findings included the relative isolation of IT staff from TNE activity decision-making and even overseas network arrangements was a case in point, with many IT staff unable to answer questions on international operations or explain problems experienced in specific countries.
From the report, we identified three main areas to focus support for TNE which we addressed by:
- Developing future plans in consultation with members and stakeholders
- Developing Jisc’s proposition and capability to facilitate provision to overseas infrastructure as a priority; and
- Developing and delivering a coordinated communication campaign to members to extend knowledge both within organisations and across the sector
The final point includes developing a guide or toolkit with information for HEI staff involved in developing TNE technical infrastructure. We anticipate that this will be available in early 2018.
We are committed to exploring new opportunities to support the entirety of Jisc’s member base, and beyond. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Through the TNE support programme, we are exploring ways to deliver TNE through enhanced technology and services across the globe.
By listening to our members and responding to demand, we have completed a number of projects in China and Malaysia which have resulted in specific services to help deliver a borderless education experience.
Our preferred model, where possible, of supporting TNE is through strategic partnerships with research and education networks (RENs) whose communities are active in transnational education.
Through our recent work in China we have developed an approach for successfully working in partnership with RENs which can be replicated in any country around the world.
With over 60,000 TNE students in China studying for a UK qualification, most UK higher education institution (HEI) TNE partners are Chinese universities, all of which are connected to CERNET (the Chinese Research and Education Network). CERNET provides excellent network services to its institutions and has very good connectivity to research and education networks worldwide, but many universities choose to use local internet service providers (ISP) for their international connectivity requirements, limited in accessibility back to the UK, and difficult to engage when problems occur.
What we did
To improve value for money and higher quality connectivity, we successfully established the first Strategic Alliance of its kind with CERNET in December 2013 to provide our members with access to the 10Gbit/s ORIENTplus link between Beijing and London. Our partnership with CERNET has made it possible to improve the connectivity between universities in the UK and China, on a campus to campus basis.
We have been working with universities of Aberdeen, Bangor, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Heriot-Watt, Hull, Lancaster, Middlesex, Nottingham, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), Reading, Royal College of Art, UCLAN and Westminster. Case studies are listed in the outputs section at the bottom of this page.
Complementary to the Jisc-CERNET Strategic Alliance is our China Transit service. This provides benefits to off-campus students and staff in China to access VLE and other IT services based on Janet, the UK Research and Education Network run by Jisc. We have procured a commercial solution with two of three Chinese ISPs (China Telecom and China Unicom) which also gives us direct access for fault reporting and issues management. This service is provided with a focus on the quality of delivery and optimising student access.
Developing strategic partnerships with research and education networks enables Jisc to develop our in-country expertise, which we can pass on to our members in the form of advice, guidance and ongoing support. This includes helping to identify technical issues, providing advice on technology requirements, acting as a point of contact during resolution of issues and troubleshooting ongoing connectivity issues.
Jisc also helped to improve the point-to-point link between the University of Hull and its China office – contributing to a rise in student recruitment. Read the case study (pdf).
To find out more information, contact email@example.com.
In Malaysia we explored a different approach to improving connectivity at UK institutions’ overseas sites. We use our expertise in procurement to develop local solutions for institutions through either the in-country REN or a local ISP, which may be on an individual basis or through aggregating demand on behalf of multiple customers in that country.
For the pilot project in Malaysia we developed a contractual relationship with Telekom Malaysia to procure and develop connectivity solutions and make use of private peering arrangements. This has enabled three UK education institutions to achieve improvements in quality of provision, resilience and cost efficiencies for their connectivity between Malaysia and the UK.
The two UK HEIs and private school with branch campuses co-located in the same physical location are part of EduCity, a strategically important programme to develop a knowledge-based hub in Nusajaya, Malaysia. Newcastle University opened a medical school 2011, the University of Southampton opened their campus in 2012, and Marlborough College has a substantial international school providing education for early years and secondary students. We have also successfully negotiated a connection to Heriot Watt’s campus in Putrajaya, which resulted in a significant reduction in costs. Read our case study on Heriot-Watt: enabling global working at a global university.
Institutions do not have to be current Jisc members or connected to the Janet Network to participate or be supported in this programme.To find out more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Having established two specific services to support TNE, we are now considering how we can more broadly provide support based on Jisc’s UK expertise, for example in monitoring and enhancing the TNE student experience, and in providing access to digital content overseas.
TNE licensing pilot
The TNE licensing pilot was initiated in response to a growing demand from university library staff for a simpler way to license resources for their students based overseas.
Use of virtual private networks (VPNs) in China
We are aware that a number of UK higher education institutions with partner institutions in China have experienced a degradation in the performance of virtual private networks (VPNs) in recent months.
Jisc, in its role to support our UK members’ TNE activity, working in conjunction with CERNET, the Chinese National Research and Education Network (NREN), has investigated the issue and prepared a short briefing note which is available on request. This is an area which continues to evolve and we will keep you informed on an ongoing basis.
We would welcome your feedback on any aspect of this issue. For any institution interested in more details, please contact Jisc’s TNE team at email@example.com.
Work is now progressing to identify new global markets informed by and to support our members’ growing TNE activities overseas. Our primary aim is to support UK institutions deliver TNE anywhere in the world. If your institution has requirements in a particular country or has issues with a specific technology, we would be interested to hear from you.
UK TNE Tech special interest group (SIG)
In March 2016 Jisc established the UK TNE Tech special interest group (SIG) to bring together specialists (from IT, libraries, academic leads, coordination roles and international staff) working on TNE delivery at universities across the UK.
The SIG currently has 34 members from 23 HEIs and aims to build a network to share best practice, provide peer-to-peer advice and guide Jisc on the development of additional TNE support services. New members are always welcome.
Department for International Trade’s (DIT) TNE working group
We also take a more strategic approach in supporting TNE, both in the UK and globally. We are a member of the Department for International Trade’s (DIT) TNE working group to coordinate UK government’s approach to enhancing current and future TNE delivery.
The group reports to the DIT Education Export Advisory Group, for the education sector to explore global trade and investment opportunities, and discuss how the government can provide support.
We also coordinate work on a global basis through the support of GÉANT, the European collaboration of research and education networks.
We have established a global special interest group (GÉANT SIG-TNE) to develop exchange knowledge and experience on TNE, with a view to developing specific technologies and services both now, and in the future.
For more information on joining the UK TNE Tech SIG, or any of our projects or services, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.