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TNE visit to China podcast transcript 

DN: Daniel Nicholls
FT: Fabrizio Trifiro
EZ: Emily Zhou

DN: Hello, and welcome to this QAA Podcast.  I’m Daniel Nicholls and today I will be speaking to Dr Fabrizio Trifiro and Dr Emily Zhou.  What we are talking about today is Transnational Education and more specifically about their forthcoming trip to China. 

Good morning both.  One of the major topics that we have been looking at recently, or one of the major pieces of work for our international unit at the moment is looking at the Transnational Review of China; could you actually tell me, Fabrizio, a bit more, what is Transnational Education, what is all this about?

FT: Well Transnational Education is a term which is increasingly being used to refer to the delivery of education in another country.  Transnational Education TNE, as it is usually known for, a lot of UK Higher Education are engaged in the delivery of TNE and indeed the UK Higher education sector is one of the world leaders in TNE provision with over 500,000 students studying for UK awards overseas spread across twenty countries.

TNE might take different shapes and forms, including partnership arrangements of different size, types, education provided at Branch campuses, in arrangement for distance learning.  Now as part of QAA’s work, we review this provision, this TNE provision, these courses, which are delivered outside the UK and that lead to UK awards.  Each year or so we select a country that we know from data obtained from the Higher Education Statistic agency as well as from our own intelligence, countries that have a significant UK TNE provision, or that have a strategic importance for QAA, or the UK Higher Education Sector as a whole, these two considerations coincide, and we review a sample of the UK Provision in that country.

So recently QAA has looked at Singapore in 2011, Malaysia 2010, India 2009, and this year we are looking at Mainland China which was also the subject of a review in 2006, and the reason why we have picked China this year is that with 36,000 students China is the third most popular destination country for UK trainee after Malaysia, and Singapore.

DN: Okay.  That is very interesting indeed.  You are talking there about the review process, I mean, what does the review comprise?

FT: Well the review method for Transnational Education comprises four key stages.  The first stage consists of an analysis of UK TNE provision in the selected country, based on data obtained from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency, publicly available information and results from a QAA Survey of UK Universities and colleges TNE provision, for which China we completed roughly this time last year.  Now, on the basis of this first stage analysis we select a number of institutions and links for further scrutiny, requesting further information about the universities procedures, and policies for establishing and monitoring overseas provision and more specifically about the selected links. 

We then conduct desk based analysis of this further information centring on institutional procedures, and the way in which they are operated.  And this is the second stage of the review, which for China we completed roughly in Spring 2012. Now on the basis of these outcomes, and the outcomes, this desk based analysis we select a smaller sample of links to visit, trying to reflect as much as possible a cross section of the overall variety of UK connectivity in the country and the primary focus of the overseas visit is which is the third stage of the review process, is a student experience. 

Institutional procedures have been the focus of the database analysis. Now the visit to the selected links in China is imminent as it will take place between the last week of November and the first week of December; and then finally the last stage of the review process is publication of the outcomes. 

So at the end of the, following the review visit, QAA produce a report giving an overview of UK TNE in China, or in the selected country, individual quality assurance reports on particular links, as well as a series of case studies which focus more narrowly on a particular issue or topic, and we expect to publish the outcomes of the China review in Spring 2012. 

DN: Thank you for that Fabrizio. So Emily, what do you hope to achieve in this visit?

EZ: In terms of the review process, we hope to achieve first of all, brought coverage through the survey and the desk based analysis and also high profiling in China which is achieved by the overseas visit and the review reports, and also we hope to achieve cost effectiveness and this is achieved by limited UK visits and a smaller team. 

Meanwhile in terms of the perceptions of UK TNE by the recipients in China, we also hope to find that the UK TNE is good quality education, and the quality assurance of UK TNE is robust and also UK TNE partnerships can be trusted in China, but of course, we will report as we find.

DN: Okay, so quite a few benefits there, across the spectrum.   I mean how does this TNE visit compare to previous visits? I mean is it larger in scale, is the review team that is going out there, are they more broad than they have been previously, I mean what is the difference really?

EZ: Everything in China is large scale. The visits to the particular links have been chosen in order to reflect a cross section of the overall variety of UK Institutions in TNE.  The team will be covering large distances as links are not just based in major cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, some links are further afield, in cities like Qiaming, Dalian and Sihui and Ningbo. 

As normal the overseas visits will be undertaken by a team of senior staff from UK universities. And by staff from QAA, particular to China is that colleagues from CDGDC have been invited to join the visits in the capacity of observer, CDGDC is China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Education Centre, and they are the QAA Counterpart organisation in China and they have the responsibility for the evaluation of academic degrees. 

As already mentioned the overall size of the team is smaller than for some previous overseas audits, although there are always two reviewers assigned to each individual link.  The China visit which covers a fourteen days rather than ten days is a shade longer than some other visits.

In summary, the logistics are complex with a team working different combinations and travelling to different locations in China, and there is also the issue of language, which I am hoping to contribute as much as possible.

DN: I am sure you will be of great benefit there.  Also I think if listeners are listening out there and they think that this seems like a really interesting topic and they want to get involved, how can they find out more about the progress of this activity?

I mean Fabrizio mentioned there will be reports based on that, is there some kind of element of a website or something that people can keep informed, or will you be looking to do a further podcast perhaps?

EZ: All our reports will be published on the QAA website, the overview reports are used by QAA to publicise the quality UK Higher Education we distribute them at conferences and other events as well as to overseas visitors.  They are becoming more useful now that they are building into a series.

DN: Okay, well thank you both, very interesting indeed, I’m sure listeners will think that also – we look forward to hearing more about your international work going forward.  Thank you once again. 

Thank you for listening to this Podcast, if you would like to learn more about this TNE China Review or simply follow us as we progress with this area of our work, you can access information on our website at   Alternatively you can follow us on Twitter using the hashtag #tnechina12 or on our Storify account  Thank you once again for listening to this podcast, and do listen out for more podcasts in the near future.  Thank you.

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