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Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive at the Institute of Student Employers, responds to the publication of the Migration Advisory Committee report on the impacts of international students in the UK.
Completing a part-time degree in your late 30s is associated with an increase in lifetime earnings of up to £377,000 in cash terms, a new study commissioned by the Open University shows.
Following encouraging comments from universities minister Sam Gyimah on Universities UK's call for the re-introduction of a post-study work visa, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, the outgoing President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield who co-founded the #WeAreInternational campaign with the President of the Sheffield Students' Union in 2012, argues that now is the time for the government to back up its welcoming words for international students with a welcoming policy change.
University UK's annual conference, held at Sheffield Hallam University, kicked off the academic year with speeches and debates on a wide range of burning issues, including Brexit, fees and funding, overseas students, public perceptions of HE, value for money, freedom of speech, and student mental health. HEi-know asked Higher Education Policy Institute Director Nick Hillman, Staffordshire University Vice-Chancellor Professor Liz Barnes, and Lancaster University Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark Smith, to give their personal perspectives on the event and its themes.
Universities must do more to win the public’s trust and battle negative perceptions over key issues such as the value of the courses they provide and their contribution to the UK economy, delegates at Universities UK’s annual conference were told.
The huge expansion of transnational education (TNE) has created many fresh opportunities but has brought with it a “terminology chaos” that is creating “mass confusion and misunderstanding”, said the British Council as it published a new framework to define and standardise the terms used for different models of international education.
Its report proposes a Common TNE classification framework plus data collection guidelines that were drawn up with DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service and with input from nearly 100 senior policy makers, institutions and organisations from 30 countries.
Launched in London at the British Council's Going Global conference, the framework introduces a new term – international programme and provider mobility (IPPM) – to better describe the provision of educational programmes between countries as opposed to the more traditional movement of individual “international” students.
Lack of clarity about the terminology used makes it hard to classify the different forms that IPPM can take and is hampering the collection of reliable data by which to judge the scale, quality and impact of the different forms it can take, says the report Transnational Education: A classification framework and data collection guidelines for international programme and provider mobility.
“As international academic mobility increases in scope, scale and importance, so does the confusion about what the terms cross-border, transnational, borderless and offshore education actually mean,” it says.
Despite the importance of TNE for large sending countries such as the UK and Australia, there tends to be far fewer national policies for TNE than there are for international student mobility. A review of 26 countries found 89 per cent had strong policies of student mobility but only 66 per cent of the same countries had strong TNE international programme and provider mobility.
Over 40 different terms are being used to describe international programme and provider mobility,” the report adds. “Furthermore, the same terms are used to denote very different modes of IPPM while different terms are being used to describe the same mode of IPPM. In short there is mass confusion about what is meant by an international branch campus, franchise programmes, joint/double degree programmes, distance education and joint universities,”
In spite of the fact that TNE is increasing in scope and scale, there is a significant lack of reliable information regarding the nature and extent of TNE provision in terms of enrolments and the characteristics of IPPM modes. Comparisons of TNE provision, data, policies and research within and across countries are challenging and often inconclusive because of this inconsistent use of terms.
The report identifies two trends that make it even more important that the 120 countries identified as being involved in TNE – either as host or sending countries – use common terms. The first is the increasing collaborative nature of TNE with host country institutions becoming more involved in awarding the qualification, either as a joint or double award. “As TNE develops, the question about who provides the academic oversight may become as important as who awards the qualification,” it says.
The second trend is “the veritable explosion” of double degrees awarded by both partner institutions that can result in double counting of students. “Double degrees have an obvious appeal for students and institutions, with the former getting two qualifications instead of one and the latter credited with producing more graduates,” says the report. “Many double degrees are earned on the basis of genuine academic collaboration between partner HEIs, where the student has undertaken additional modules of study. However, there are undoubtedly cases of double degrees being marketed as “two for one” offers by HEIs and this poses serious reputational risks for TNE,” it says.
The British Council says its report is an international document suggesting classifications and data collection guidelines while leaving scope for individual countries to tailor it to their circumstances: “It will hopefully become an agent of change and a tool for effective policy development in many countries.”
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