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What is TNE?


UK higher education and TNE



TNE is education delivered in a country other than the country in which the awarding institution is based, eg, students based in country Y studying for a degree from a university in country Z. Several variations of this definition are in common use, each subtly different. For example:

  • BIS defines TNE as the delivery of education for students based in a country other than the one in which the  awarding institution is located
  • The British Council defines TNE as  the general principal of TNE is that students can study towards a foreign qualification without leaving their home country
  • HESA defines TNE as students studying (to date) wholly outside the UK who are either registered with the reporting institution or who are studying for an award of the reporting institution

TNE is delivered through many mediums, and the typology for TNE modes is currently under debate. Some of the more commonly used 'shorthand' descriptions for TNE models include:

  • Branch campus: where a provider in Country A establishes a satellite campus in Country B to deliver education directly to students. The qualification is awarded by the Country A provider
  • Franchise: where a provider in Country A authorises provider(s) in Country to deliver its courses/programmes/services in Country B or others. The Country A qualification is awarded by the Country B provider
  • Partnership or joint venture: where providers in Countries A and B co-deliver education in Country B, with possible delivery for some parts of the programme in Country A
  • Dual/joint/double/concurrent degrees: where providers in different countries collaborate to offer programmes . The qualification may be awarded jointly by some or all of the programme providers, or individually by more than one of the programme providers
  • Articulation: where a student studies the first part of their programme in Country B and advances at an agreed point to study in Country A. The qualification is awarded by the Country A provider
  • Validation: where a provider in Country B delivers a programme. The qualification is awarded by the Country A provider
  • Distance learning: where a provider in Country A delivers a programme to Country B without relocating its services and without using local facilities, eg, through online instruction. The qualification is awarded by the Country A provider
  • Fly in faculty: where programme staff from Country A visit Country B for short periods of time to deliver core parts of the Country A programme. The qualification is awarded by the Country A provider

As with TNE itself, there are many descriptions of these modes of TNE in circulation. The examples above are offered by way of illustration only, and are not exhaustive.


UK higher education and TNE

The UK is generally understood to have the highest volume of HE TNE activity of any country, and this is predicted to grow more quickly than international student recruitment to the UK.

In 2014/15, 663,915 students registered with UK higher education institutions were studying wholly overseas (HESA aggregate offshore record, 2016 first statistical release). The number of students returned to HESA in the aggregate offshore record increased by almost 15 per cent in the last three years of reporting. Almost half of the transnational students returned in the 2013/14 record* were based in Asia, with Malaysia and Singapore accounting for almost 20 per cent of the total.

More recent research (BIS (2014), The Value of TNE to the UK found 2,785 individual UK transnational education programmes and 253,695 active enrolments - slightly higher than the HESA aggregate offshore record once inactive enrolments are excluded.

'The Value of TNE to the UK' report calculated the value of TNE to the UK at £496 million. It also discussed a 'halo' effect of around £42 million through other income, eg, articulation routes for students through to the UK and other partnerships formed. Research findings published at the same time by HEFCE (2014), Directions of Travel, research has pointed to evidence around the importance of articulation from TNE through to studying in the UK.