Skip to main content Accessibility Statement
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – support and guidance

Transnational education (TNE) is an important area for UK higher degree-awarding providers. 142 UK providers have students on TNE programmes and more than 650,000 students study for UK awards through transnational provision, including through open and distance learning. The Department for Education (DfE) estimates that UK higher education TNE contributes over £600 million in exports to the UK economy and is currently delivered in 226 locations worldwide.


Across UK higher education there are robust systems to quality assure all aspects in whatever mode or location of delivery, including TNE. As part of this comprehensive approach and coverage, and as the UK's quality experts, QAA has conducted over 45 country reviews of the UK's TNE.


In July 2020, Universities UK International and GuildHE commissioned QAA to develop a new approach to reviewing and enhancing the quality of UK TNE in response to the Future Approaches to the External Quality Enhancement of UK Higher Education Transnational Education report.


In October 2020, we published the proposed new method for the evaluation and enhancement of the quality of UK transnational education, which is open to consultation until 12 November 2020. The consultation seeks views on how the method can operate to meet the needs of the sector. 


The UK Government has explicitly expressed interest in supporting the growth of TNE by higher education institutions, recognising its economic benefits and soft power returns. The International Education Strategy: global potential, global growth, published in March 2019, aims at 'supporting TNE as a key growth area'. Specific initiatives, including 'Global Wales' and 'Connected Scotland', also support TNE.


For UK universities, approaches to TNE are part of wider internationalisation strategies aimed at building mutually beneficial partnerships that embrace research and knowledge transfer, and support education, staff and student mobility. Internationalisation helps to ensure that all students studying for UK awards are equipped to operate in a global society.


QAA has also developed advice for UK TNE providers during the COVID-19 pandemic response period, available in our COVID-19 support and guidance section

TNE reviews and reports

Regulation of UK Higher Education

Higher education policy and regulation is devolved among the four nations of the UK. The statutory responsibility for the registration and regulation of higher education providers sits with the respective national funders and regulators: the Office for Students in England; the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland; the Scottish Funding Council in Scotland; and the Higher Education Funding Council in Wales. The UK Quality Code applies across all jurisdictions.

QAA is the only body officially recognised to undertake independent assessments and evaluations, which are in turn used by all four bodies to inform their regulatory decision making. QAA also works with the representative bodies of UK higher education providers and our individual member institutions.

QAA's consultation on the quality evaluation and enhancement of UK transnational higher education provision (QE-TNE) was commissioned by the Universities UK and Guild HE as a voluntary exercise to demonstrate the commitment of UK higher education to deliver high quality TNE experiences for students.

QE-TNE does not form part of the regulatory arrangements in all parts of the UK and has not been commissioned by the funders and regulators. Should funders and regulators commission QAA to undertake additional or alternative assessments for their own purposes, QAA's policies for the management of conflicts of interests will be applied to ensure fair and robust assessments of providers.