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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

Review of transnational education in Mainland China 2012

TNE China 2012

Many UK institutions offer higher education programmes through partnership links with organisations abroad, or deliver programmes on overseas campuses. This is known as transnational education (TNE). The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) undertook its second review of higher education delivered in Mainland China, carried out from 26 November to 7 December 2012 by a QAA team comprising four members of staff and five peer reviewers. The following locations were visited: Beijing, Dalian, Kunming, Ningbo, Shanghai and Suzhou. 

The TNE China 2012 review began with a survey in May 2011 to collect information from UK universities and colleges about their TNE activity in China. This was followed by desk-based studies of those institutions with significant TNE in China, looking at institutional procedures for the management of academic quality and standards and the way they operated. The studies were supplemented by visits to a sample of the related institutions in China, giving an opportunity to follow up on identified issues and look more directly at the student experience.

Why UK higher education in China is important

In 2010-11, China was the third most popular destination for UK TNE students, after Malaysia and Singapore. Data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that in 2011-12 there were more than 38,000 students studying through UK TNE in China, with an increase of about 7 per cent on the previous year. As a highly trusted expert in international higher education quality assurance, QAA is determined to protect the interests of all students working towards a UK HE qualification - wherever in the world they are studying.

Overview report

The overview report provides a summary of TNE and higher education in China, and includes a statistical annex, executive summaries of the 10 review reports, and summaries of the case studies and 2006 review, all of which can be found in full below.​

Review of UK transnational education in China 2012: Overview - English (PDF 1.1 KB) | Mand​arin​ (PDF 1.7 KB)

Review reports

During 2012, QAA conducted in-depth reviews on individual collaborations between the UK and China. The following partnerships were reviewed:

Case studies: setting and maintaining academic standards

Following its review of TNE in mainland China in November and December 2012, QAA has compiled a set of four case studies​ (PDF 345 KB)​. ​These deal with different aspects of setting and maintaining academic standards:

  • use of a subject benchmark statement in designing a degree programme linked to a professional qualification
  • progression routes from diploma to degree
  • collaboration through a university consortium
  • assessment in a foreign language.

The case studies focus on the following collaborations:

  • Oxford Brookes University and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
  • Staffordshire University and the International College of the Global Institute of Software Technology
  • The Northern Consortium UK and the Sino-British College
  • The University of Wales and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. ​​

Our previous visit to China​

QAA has also looked back at the partnerships it reviewed in 2006 and has prepared a brief synopsis of how they have fared in the period between then and now.

Review of UK transnational education in China (PDF 61 KB)​

R​ead more about QAA's first visit to Mainland China and the report of its review in 2006​​​

For further information about our international activity, please email international@qaa.ac.uk.

QAA would like to thank the British Council in China.

Back to Review of Overseas Provision​