Transnational Education

Bovill, C., Jordan, L. and Watters, N. (2014). Transnational approaches to teaching and learning in higher education: challenges and possible guiding principles. Teaching in Higher Education, 20(1), 12-23.
The higher education sector has become increasingly internationalised over recent decades. This paper examines a range of challenges that can arise where teaching staff in one context support and implement learning and teaching initiatives in another international context – transnational teaching. We use examples and experiences from our own practice to highlight challenges that arise from implementing cross-cultural and transnational teaching and that warrant further exploration, including differing expectations; differing views of learners and learning; the illusory nature of transformed practice; and time constraints. We highlight some possible guiding principles for transnational higher education work that include modelling good practice; ensuring reciprocity and mutual benefit; ensuring individual integrity and institutional credibility; and developing and supporting transnational staff.

British Council (2014). Exploring the impacts of transnational education on host countries: a pilot study. Going Global 2014.Higher Education Summit in the year of the UK’s presidency of the G8.
Transnational education (TNE) is a topic of increasing importance in the overall higher education landscape but research thus far has generally been from the perspective of sending/awarding countries. This report summarises the results of a pilot study commissioned by the British Council to explore the impacts of TNE on host countries, from the host country perspective. Four impact categories were assessed: academic; economic; skills; and socio-cultural. Ten host countries were included in the study as sources of information: Botswana, China, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, the UAE and Vietnam. The views were drawn from TNE graduate/ current student responses to an online survey and 24 telephone interviews conducted with TNE actors.

Djerasimovic, S. (2014)‘Examining the discourses of cross-cultural communication in transnational higher education: from imposition to transformation, Journal of Education for Teaching. 40(3): 204-21.
This theoretical article addresses some of the most salient issues raised in recent transnational education scholarship, with a particular focus on cultural imperialism and the dynamics between the global and local, the ‘powerful’ and the ‘powerless’. Building on the socio-linguistic work of Fairclough, and linking this to Bourdieu’s social theory, the article suggests a way of conceptually re-examining the various power relationships between actors in the transnational higher education field, suggesting a way of reconciling the apparent oppositions and polarities and enabling a more dynamic analysis of the field.

Dunn, L. and Wallace, M. (2008). Teaching in Transnational Higher Education. Enhancing Learning for Offshore International Students. London: Routledge.
This book examines current trends and challenges that face students, teachers and institutions of higher education around the globe. The book clearly defines and takes an in-depth look at the various types of transnational education, broadly sampling programs in countries such as China, Zambia and the United Arab Emirates, and interviews students and teachers on these programs.

Hoare, L. (2013). Swimming in the deep end: transnational teaching as culture learning? Higher Education Research & Development, 32(4), 561-574.
Drawing upon the experiences of a group of academics responsible for the teaching and coordination of a newly established offshore program, this study considers intercultural learning during transnational education (TNE) sojourns and demonstrates that the personal and pedagogical adaptation required of academics is significant. The study combines data from pre-, during- and post-sojourn interviews with detailed observations of offshore teaching. This ethnographic methodology provides a detailed account of the TNE experience that is rare in the literature. The study adds support to the contention that the acknowledgement of cultural distance, rather than the adoption of a universalist mindset, is a precondition for development of intercultural competence through transnational teaching. The reflections of the respondents indicate that when transnational educators are prepared to learn from the ambiguity encountered during offshore teaching, they have the capacity to experience personal growth and to add significantly to their university's human capital. The paper argues that this ‘preparedness’ to learn should not be left to chance lest it does not eventuate and that the responsibility for development is shared between transnational educators and universities.

Hou, J., Montgomery, C and McDowell, L. (2014) Exploring the diverse motivations of transnational higher education in China: complexities and contradictions. Journal of Education for Teaching 40 (3): 300-318
This article analyses the current situation of transnational higher education (TNE) in China by conducting a comprehensive documentary analysis. It first situates the phenomenon in global transnational mobility in higher education and then explores the diverse motivations of importing and exporting countries taking China and the UK as linked examples. The analysis suggests that China has stated aims to promote TNE as a public good, whereas UK motivations for transnational education are ostensibly more driven by financial reasons. The article also identifies three features of the current situation in China: first showing that the distribution of the TNE in China is imbalanced; second, partner institutions are based in 21 economically developed countries or regions; third, the prominent cooperative arrangements are strongly focused in particular disciplines. The article argues that these features have led to unfair competition in some areas. Therefore, it appears that there are some inconsistencies and tensions between the stated aims of Chinese TNE policy and the way in which TNE is spreading and developing in practice.

Journal of Education for Teaching, (2014). Special Issue: transnational and transcultural positionality in globalised higher education, 40(3).

Kainzbauer, A. and Hunt, B. (2015). Meeting the challenges of teaching in a different cultural environment – evidence from graduate management schools in Thailand. Asia Pacific Journal of Education,
In this paper we describe the efforts of foreign university teachers in graduate schools in Thailand as they incorporate cultural knowledge into their classroom teaching styles and methodology. Through in-depth semi-structured interviews we have gathered qualitative data on the teachers’ concerns, mindsets and their proposed solutions. We build up our discussion in several stages. We set the scene by discussing the importance of cultural sensitivity in settings where teacher and learners have different cultural backgrounds. We then introduce the concept of cultural intelligence and use this to help us examine the literature on cultural sensitivity in teaching from a new perspective. We then describe the cultural context of teaching in Thailand and offer empirical data from our respondents’ experiences. From our research data we identified five main aspects of Thai culture where teachers felt the need to expand/adapt their existing teaching repertoires. These aspects are: fun/sanuk; hierarchy/kreng jai; authority with a kind heart/jai dee; collectivist group activities; and localized class content. We discuss our findings in relation to cultural adjustments that the teachers sought to make and, in conclusion, link this discussion to our earlier examination of cultural intelligence.

 Keevers et al (2014) ‘I like the people I work with. Maybe I’ll get to meet them in person one day’: teaching and learning practice development with transnational teaching teams. Journal of Education for Teaching. 40(3), 232-250.
Significant changes have occurred in the international education landscape driven by the need for access to higher education in developing countries. One response to this situation has been the provision of higher education in the developing country via partnership arrangements with overseas institutions. Rapid growth in transnational programmes has resulted in many opportunities for nations seeking to build their capacity, for institutions and for staff and student learning, as well as significant challenges. This research contributes to addressing some of these challenges by focusing attention on teaching and learning practice development with transnational teaching teams. This paper is grounded empirically in an international collaboration between three Australian, one Malaysian and one Vietnamese university. Employing a practice-based approach using multi-site participatory action research, the researchers investigated the professional development needs of transnational teaching teams and their experience working in transnational programmes. The study suggests that for professional development to be effective in transnational education it needs to be collaboratively designed and negotiated, context-sensitive and specific, practice-based and involve teams engaging and learning together in their daily work contexts. Such an approach harnesses the diversity of transnational teaching teams and enhances dialogue and relationships amongst team members.

Keevers, L. et al. (2014). Transnational teaching teams: professional development for quality enhancement of learning and teaching
This is an Office of Learning and Teaching (Australia Project) that has produced a number of useful resources including a professional development toolkit, resources, case studies and a literature review. The resources are available at:
The full report of the study is available at:

Koehn, P.H. and Obamba, M.O. (2014). The Transnationally Partnered University. Insights from research and sustainable development collaborations in Africa. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
This book explores the transnational higher education landscape in Africa and examines the extent to which the reality of partnership matches its golden rhetoric. By partnering across disciplinary and geographic boundaries, universities enable societies to make progress in alleviating poverty, adapting to climate change, and dealing with current and future challenges. Specific approaches for linking African scholars and institutions of higher learning through symmetrical and mutually beneficial North-South and South-South partnerships are explored.

Miliszewska, I., Denman, B.D. and Sztendur, E. (2010). Australian TNE Programmes in Southeast Asia: The Student Perspective. UK: The Observatory of Borderless Higher Education.
Much of the research in transnational education (TNE) to date has focused around its effectiveness as a teaching medium, and the use of new technologies for teaching. Little attention has been given to the beliefs and behaviours that need to accompany technology so that it has the desired effects; these are assumed to follow the introduction of technology and are largely overlooked. Yet these factors impact on the quality of distance education programmes, especially in transnational settings where additional cross-cultural issues influence the realisation of educational aims. This report highlights the need for a holistic approach to TNE; an approach that takes into consideration various dimensions of the TNE context, instead of focusing exclusively on technology. The report draws on the views of 500 transnational students participating in eight programmes offered by four Australian universities in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. The dimensions of the TNE context explored were: student, instructor, curriculum and instruction design, interaction, evaluation and assessment, technology, and programme management, and organisational support.

Montgomery, C. (2014). Introduction to the Special Issue: transnational and transcultural positionality in globalised higher education. Journal of Education for Teaching, 40(3), 198-203.
Transnational higher education (TNE), where students study on a ‘foreign’ degree programme whilst remaining in their home country, is a rapidly developing phenomenon. Universities across the UK, for example, are now operating 1,395 TNE programmes and 73 overseas campuses have been established. There are 454,473 students involved in TNE and this excludes Distance Learning students (British Council 2013). The growth in transnational higher education in the last decade and the associated increase in the involvement of university teachers in transnational education represent huge potential for transformative experiences for teachers. Research has shown that experiencing a different community of practice can enable teachers to identify and question their (sometimes unconscious) assumptions and beliefs about teaching and learning, with a crucial element in the transnational experience being the dissonance generated (Hepple 2012; Keay et al. this issue).

Sia, E. (2015). Intercultural competence teaching in transnational higher education: a case review of an international branch campus in Uzbekistan. Journal of Education for Teaching: International research and pedagogy.

This paper discusses key cross-cultural issues that foreign faculty may face in teaching transnational higher education in another country. It employs the intercultural competence process model and sets out some best practices that are already implemented at an international branch campus (IBC) in Uzbekistan. Although claims are made based on specific observational data obtained from the IBC, by sharing such claims and practices, this paper should benefit and prepare transnational faculty with intercultural competences so as to be more efficient and effective in motivating students under a transnational education programme.

Smith, K. (2013) ‘Overseas flying faculty teaching as a trigger for transformative professional development’ International Journal for Academic Development, 18(2): 127-138
In earlier work, I proposed that flying faculty teaching, where home institution academics teach for short, intense periods in host countries, could foster transformative professional development. In the present article, I explore this empirically. Using the biographic–narrative–interpretative method, five male academics were interviewed three times about their experiences of teaching outside the country where they ordinarily work. The data provide vivid descriptions of overseas teaching in terms of the content (choice of materials, contextualisation, research areas); process (delivery and facilitation, hierarchy, language); and premise (the enterprise of internationalisation, expanded worldviews and global appreciation) of academic practice. The findings raise issues about how universities and the academic development community more specifically support and develop staff for such globalised roles.

Waters, J.L. and Leung, M. (2013). Immobile Transnationalisms? Young People and their in-situ experiences of ‘International’ Education in Hong Kong. Urban Studies, 50(3), 606-620.
In Hong Kong, the number of international degree programmes available locally to students has proliferated in recent years, and British universities are the largest provider of so-called ‘transnational education’ in the territory. This paper draws on the findings of a qualitative project examining British degree programmes offered in Hong Kong, and their implications for local young people. In particular, it explores the fact that the vast majority of these ‘international’ qualifications involve no travel whatsoever, and are taught and awarded entirely in Hong Kong. Interviews with students/graduates, with direct experience of a British degree, elucidate the relationship between (im)mobility and the accumulation of cultural capital through international education. It is suggested that immobility does have an impact upon young people’s experiences of higher education. The findings contribute to discussions around the relationship between education, mobility and class, and the implications of a consolidating international education industry for class reproduction and social inequalities.