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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

TNE growth at 39 per cent over five years

Date 25/09/2017

UK higher education is a global success story. While numbers of home students have declined by 8.8 per cent over the last five years, there has been a modest (2 per cent) increase in the numbers of international students coming to the UK to study.

The real increase, however, has been in the numbers of students studying for a UK higher education qualification in their own country - a significant, 39 per cent growth over the last five years.

Over 80 per cent of UK universities are now engaged in some form of transnational education (TNE), either through distance learning, partnerships, or branch campus arrangements.

TNE numbers, at 701,010, now exceed the number of international students in the UK by around 60 per cent.

QAA has looked at processes to ensure that the oversight of UK TNE remains effective and efficient, providing assurance and confidence to international students and stakeholders. We have done so by adopting a country-based approach, and by strengthening cooperation with host countries' quality assurance agencies.

This country-based approach also allows QAA to obtain an in-depth understanding of the specific features and challenges involved in operating in particular countries, since different countries have different policies and systems for higher education and TNE.

Fundamental to our international work is building trust between agencies and developing an understanding of the reasons behind the differences in national and regulatory frameworks within which we operate.

UK TNE looks set to expand further and, through our international work, QAA will continue to support the global reputation of UK higher education, independently assuring quality and safeguarding standards no matter where the student is located.

Our latest International Insights report considers the importance of cross-border cooperation in UK TNE.