Confederation of European Union Rectors’ Conferences
TRANSNATIONAL EDUCATION PROJECT
REPORT and RECOMENDATIONS
Stephen Adam, University of Westminster
This study was commissioned by the Confederation of European Union Rectors‟ Conferences
with the support of the European Commission (DG Education and Culture). It was undertaken by a team of three researchers who produced the raw material for the report: Stephen Adam (University of Westminster), Carolyn Campbell (University of Surrey, Roehampton) and Marie-Odile Ottenwaelter (Conférence de Directeurs d‟IUFM). Stephen Adam acted as rapporteur général for the project and produced the final report.
The study on transnational education raises profound and far-reaching implications for all those involved in the creation of the European higher education area, notably the challenges represented by transnational education impact at the local, regional, national and European levels. It is important that reactions to these multi-level challenges result in a co-ordinated set of European responses. Transnational education should be viewed as a positive set of opportunities and not something to be feared. It is a new and permanent reality in European educational life.
The globalisation of higher education manifests itself in various forms, of which transnational education is perhaps the most visible. It is something that cannot be ignored. Transnational education has clear long-term implications for the nature and structure of educational provision in Europe. It goes to the heart of the Sorbonne-Bologna-Prague process. The study was the main focus of a pre-Prague conference in Malmö, Sweden, where its findings were strongly endorsed.
The report identifies vital issues that demand our serious consideration. It suggests a positive way forward and provides a coherent and detailed set of solutions for all stakeholders involved in building a Europe of knowledge. Its messages should not be ignored.
Confederation of European Union Rectors‟ Conferences.
Confederation of European Union Rectors’ Conferences
TRANSNATIONAL EDUCATION PROJECT
REPORT and RECOMENDATIONS
Table of Contents
Page Preface 2 1 Introduction 5 1.1 The Initiative – Background and Context 5 1.2 Project Aims and Terms of Reference 6 1.3 The Multi-level Challenge of Transnational Education 6 1.4 Existing Regulation of Transnational Education 8 1.5 Methodological Issues 11
2 Main Findings 16 2.1 Austria 16 2.2 Belgium (Flemish) 17 2.3 Belgium (Francophone) 18 2.4 Denmark 19 2.5 Finland 20 2.6 France 21 2.7 Germany 23 2.8 Greece 24 2.9 Iceland 25 2.10 Ireland 26 2.11 Italy 27 2.12 Netherlands 28 2.13 Norway 29 2.14 Portugal 30 2.15 Spain 31 2.16 Sweden 32 2.17 United Kingdom 34 2.18 Transnational Education Beyond the European Union 37 2.19 International Organisations, Associations and Institutions 39
3 Analysis and Conclusions 40 3.1 Introduction 40 3.2 Definitions and Terminology 40 3.3 The Potential Impact of Transnational Education on Higher Education in the EU/EEA 41 3.4 General Results of the National Mapping Exercise 42 3.5 The Emerging Patterns of Transnational Education on Sectors, Cycles and Types of Higher Education 42 3.6 Main factors Determining the Supply of Transnational Education 43 3.7 Main Factors Determining Demand for Transnational Education 43 3.8 The Potential Growth of Transnational Education 44 3.9 Current National Approaches Adopted Towards Transnational Education 44 3.10 The Implications of Transnational Education for Consumer Protection 45 3.11 Good Practice in the Conduct and Control of Transnational Education 47 3.12 Summary 47
49 4 Recommendations 4.1 Introduction 49 4.2 General Recommendations 49 4.3 Recommendations for the Internal European Dimension of Transnational Education 50 4.4 Recommendations for the External European Dimension of Transnational Education 52 4.5 Concluding Comment 53
APPENDICES A. Steering Group and Project Team Membership 55 B. Interview Schedule/Questionnaire 56 C. Single Question Mapping Document 59 D. Bibliography 60 E. List of Responding Institutions/Individuals 64
1.1 THE INITIATIVE – BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
Transnational education is not a new phenomenon but the pace of its global expansion is. It is
this growth that brings with it increasing levels of competition both within and between
countries. Many new providers now exist, combining telecommunication, cable and satellite
businesses, publishing and software companies, with traditional and non-traditional
universities. This escalation of transnational education has implications not just for individual
institutions of higher education but for nation states, international organisations, citizens and
companies. Put simply, the advent of new education providers poses significant challenges to
1Currently, transnational education is an under-researched and often misunderstood area, with
no common understanding, definition or approach. It has many different manifestations, some
of which are alternately regarded as threats or benefits by different national higher education
systems and even, by various parts of the same system.
The purpose of this report is to draw together existing work in this area, refine the typology,
research the current situation across Europe (EU/EEA) and make recommendations in time to
inform the post-Bologna Declaration process.
The catalyst for this work was the decision of the Portuguese Presidency of the European
Union to have a discussion on the theme of transnational education. This topic became the
main item for the annual Conference of the Directors General of Higher Education and the
Chairpersons of the Rectors‟ Conferences of the European Union. This discussion aimed to
identify forms of regulation for this type of education. This led to the groundbreaking report 2by Sérgio Machado dos Santos, Introduction to the Theme of Transnational Education which,
in turn, built upon earlier work by UNESCO (CEPES) and the Council of Europe.
Transnational education is complex. Firstly, by the way it links to the unique pattern of 3educational provision in Europe, and secondly, by the way it impacts on a number of related
areas including: globalisation, the „marketisation‟ of education, lifelong learning, consumer
protection, „recognition‟ and „transparency‟ and quality.
Transnational education has a close relationship with the Bologna Declaration, its follow-up
process (six objectives) and intended goals. The creation of a „European higher education
area‟ interacts with transnational education in a number of positive and negative ways.
Transnational education represents opportunities as well as threats. European education
providers cannot isolate themselves from external non-European transnational forces, nor is it
sensible to ignore the unintended consequences that the construction of a European education
space will have. Competition between European transnational education providers, as well as
from non-European providers, is likely to increase.
The building of this new European higher education area is based on the vision of a common
architecture of higher education. This is designed to enhance Europe‟s national education
systems whilst promoting their cultural diversity, quality and competitiveness. They need to
be more efficient and flexible, to become more attractive to non-European students. This can
only be achieved if they are exposed to new ideas and influences. Transnational education
1 This is not to deny that there are several excellent recent publications in this area but they all stress the lack of availability of hard statistical data. 2 Marchado dos Santos, S (2000) Introduction to the Theme of Transnational Education, Paper
presented at the meeting of Directors General and Heads of Rectors‟ Conferences of the European Union, Aveiro, Portugal. 3 The best discussion of the European educational context can be found in chapter 3 of The Business of Borderless Education: UK perspective, Case Studies and Annexes. Published by CVCP, March 2000.
should be viewed as a positive set of opportunities that needs to be fully exploited. Any
threats that it might represent should be recognised and countered by sensible strategies.
However, what is not clear is the extent and significance of the impact of transnational
education on different aspects of higher education in Europe. This study is designed, as an
initial attempt, to clarify the position in time for the next meeting of Education Ministers in
Prague in 2001. Prior to this, it will be discussed and refined at a Conference on
Transnational Education in March 2001, at Malmö, Sweden, and fed into the pre-Prague
Convention of European Higher Education Institutions in March 2001 at Salamanca, Spain.
1.2 PROJECT AIMS AND TERMS OF REFERENCE
The project was established to analyse and make recommendations on the development and
impact (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) of transnational education on higher
education in Europe. Specifically, this report seeks to:
1.2.1 Produce a working classification of types of transnational education.
1.2.2 Map the actual and potential providers of transnational education (TNE) in the European 4Union and EEA.
1.2.3 Identify the main factors determining the supply and demand of transnational education,
together with foreseeable future trends in its growth in Europe.
1.2.4 Identify the current approaches adopted towards transnational education by national
governments, including the regulation of „imported‟ and „exported‟ education.
1.2.5 Analyse and assess the implications of transnational education, with particular reference to
consumer protection, transparency, recognition and accreditation, on:
; Consumers (citizens/students) and employers;
; European domestic national higher education providers and student funding bodies;
; different sectors, cycles and types of European higher education;
; alternative national approaches in Europe;
; the pan-European educational market.
1.2.6 Identify „good practice‟ associated with the conduct, control and alternative ways of
accommodating the implications of transnational education in Europe.
1.2.7 Make appropriate recommendations to policy makers associated with the findings of the
1.3 THE MULTI-LEVEL CHALLENGE OF TRANSNATIONAL
It is important to stress that the challenges presented by transnational education are not all
apocalyptic. It is not likely to immediately transform all education provision. The evidence
indicates that the current impact is strong but highly localised by sector (see section 2 and 3).
However, transnational education, when taken in conjunction with the Bologna process and
continued globalisation, will have more profound consequences. National autonomy and
4 European Economic Area (EEA) established in 1992 and includes the 15 member states of the European Union and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
sovereignty in the domain of higher education (and tertiary education) have never before been challenged on such a scale.
Many individuals hold a „schizophrenic‟ approach to transnational education. It is both welcomed and feared across Europe. The positive view is that it improves access to higher education, widens choice and promotes internationalisation. Perceived negative effects are that it challenges standards, traditional educational values and consumer rights (see section 3.3 for a full discussion of these aspects).
The multi-level challenges of transnational education to existing higher education provision should be seen in the context of change, as a manifestation of globalisation. It is important to note that no university has closed due to its impact, nor is this likely in the foreseeable future. However, universities and national educational authorities will have to react to the challenges and opportunities posed by transnational education.
1.3.1 Challenges at the national level
Transnational education poses a number of real, potential and even some imaginary challenges to educational providers, students, citizens, professional bodies, companies, higher education institutions (state recognised and non-official), and ministries. It is useful to chart these national „micro-level‟ challenges to understand better their scope and potential impact on the development of the European educational space. National states have to decide on the following:
; Who should provide education and how it should be delivered. This calls into question
the organisation and structure of traditional education providers and their modes of
; The role of the state in education, institutional and national autonomy, and the
relationship between traditional education, the state and non-official higher education.
; How existing national (and embryonic international) quality assurance systems can
develop effective means to regulate and ensure quality and protect learners in the context 5of GATS, and the pressing need to eradicate „degree mills‟/bogus institutions,
malpractice and fraud.
; Reconsideration of long and deeply held beliefs about the nature and role of national
educational providers (competition, marketisation) and their relationship to students
(customers) and society.
; Current national and international approaches to academic and professional recognition,
transparency and mobility as the professions progressively become globalised and certain
sectors of traditional education are permanently transformed.
; The competitiveness of national education and, linked to this, the use of a foreign
language as a necessary mode of delivery.
1.3.2 Strategic European and global challenges
The profound questions identified above do not admit to simple solutions and are further complicated by another layer of more fundamental „macro-level‟ questions that that confront
those involved in the Bologna process:
; European nation states have to decide how they will approach transnational education,
whether it is from a national, European or a global perspective. There are potential
conflicts between each of these as decisions based on national interest often clash with
European and/or global interests.
5General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is the multilateral trade agreement organised by the
World Trade Organisation, designed to liberalise the global economy.
; Transnational education brings with it many threats, opportunities and benefits. Europe as
a whole and individual European states have to decide how they will view the
phenomenon - in a negative or positive way.
st century ; Countries will have to decide on the nature of their educational systems in the 21
in the context of globalisation. They have to decide how they want to position their
„national‟ education within the wider background of „European education‟. Both will
have to be marketed to the outside world with a clear identity, presumably associated with
quality, relevance and cultural diversity.
The answers to these questions are fundamental to the future of the European higher education area. Inevitably some of the solutions to the national-level challenges (1.3.1) will conflict with those European and global challenges (1.3.2). These tensions will have to be resolved somehow. The real problem is how to develop complementary approaches to transnational education that suit both national and European needs. Under the pressure of transnational education and globalisation European education will have to move beyond its past conflicts. Previously isolated and protected national education systems need to build a common approach to the new reality. This study seeks to help this process.
1.4 EXISTING REGULATION OF TRANSNATIONAL EDUCATION
Current national and international regulation of transnational education takes many forms and is, in consequence, fragmented, disorganised, uncoordinated, often voluntary and ineffective. 6This is true with only a few notable exceptions where some sort of serious attempts at
national control or regulation exist. Where such controls are present their strength is dependent on the particular nature of transnational education in question, e.g. stateless „virtual
universities‟ are free from regulation whilst in states where national quality assurance bodies have been given a remit to regulate exporters of transnational education, closer engagement can be valuable.
However, for the most part, transnational education is not effectively controlled. Andrée 7Sursock, remarks
„Europe is characterised by mostly public higher education systems in which
institutions and programmes derive their formal degree-awarding capacity from the
state. Partly because of the diversity of both degrees and institutions, however, their
quality is often opaque across national borders.‟
8Furthermore, where non-official higher education is concerned Kokosalakis and Tsaoussis,
indicated that this growing sector
„…presents a problem in all countries concerning regulation, transparency and
So, it is important to distinguish different types and facets of transnational education in terms of their amenability to control (for further discussion see section 3 and 4).
Currently, many devices and mechanisms exist that attempt to regulate and influence different aspects of the provision of transnational education. Some focus on the receiving function and some on the exporting function. A few of these are specifically designed to cover transnational
6 Examples of this are Australia, Sweden, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, South Africa, United States
(Accreditation Agencies) and Israel. It is worth noting that the UK does not directly control or regulate
transnational education, it „monitors‟ it. 7 Sursock, A (2000) Towards Accreditation Schemes for Higher Education in Europe. CRE Project.
Unpublished draft report. 8 Kokosalakis, N and Tsaoussis D (1998) Non-Official Higher Education in the European Union.
education; some are voluntary and some just prohibit. The main types of control are listed
1.4.1 National regulation and accreditation
This takes a number of different forms:
; A few states give their quality assurance agencies specific responsibility for the standards
and delivery of transnational education exported by nationally recognised domestic higher
education providers, e.g. UK where the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) physically
audits „collaborative provision‟. France also evaluates specialist French institutes abroad.
; Accreditation agencies are more familiar in the USA but also function in Europe by
accrediting institutions and programmes. According to the Council for Higher Education
Accreditation (CHEA), US agencies accredit programmes/institutions in 65 countries
including all of the EU except Denmark and Finland. Accreditation agencies can keep to
national boundaries or operate outside borders as in the case of several American ones.
US accreditation agencies include all the US regional accreditation bodies e.g. the New
England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Middle States Association of
Colleges and Schools. The UK Open University accredits overseas
institutions/programmes of study via its Open University Validation Services (OUVS)
operation. Another example of an accreditation agency is the European Foundation for
Management Development (EFMD) which through EQUIS accredits 42 Business Schools
mainly in Europe.
In addition, a number of professional bodies validate or accredit national and overseas
institutions and courses for recognition purposes, e.g. the UK Royal Institute of British
Architects (RIBA), the UK Law Society, etc.
; Some receiving countries have tough regulations covering non-national providers of
education that require their registration/licensing/approval. This approach has been taken 9. In Europe, the most common in Hong Kong, Israel, Malaysia and South Africa
approach is not to regulate non-national providers unless they seek to become officially
recognised institutions within a national system. The qualifications of such unrecognised
institutions may be looked upon more favourably if the awarding body is recognised in its
country or origin. The exception to this is Greece, where distance learning and „non-10official‟ higher education is not recognised under the law.
; Bilateral agreements between governments are used to establish educational relationships
between countries. In Italy, branch campuses of Italian universities operating abroad are
regulated by bilateral agreements. The Belgium (Flanders) and Dutch governments are
currently establishing the Transnational University of Limburg (TNU) by international
The landmark Council of Europe/UNESCO Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications
in the European Region (Lisbon 1997) provides an overall framework for the recognition of
qualifications. The „Lisbon‟ convention outlines the principles of fair recognition procedures
by providing a methodological and normative framework for recognition.
1.4.3 Recognition networks
There are three European networks that cover academic and professional recognition. There is
the EU National Academic Recognition Centres (NARIC) network which meets regularly to
9 Details of these arrangements can be found in the report by Campbell C and Van de Wende M, Exploratory Initiatives and Trends in Quality Assurance for European Higher Education – An
Exploratory Trend Report, Published by the European Netwrok for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA). In addition, a useful explanation of the Hong Kong approach and recent legislation by Nigel French is Transnational Education – Competition or Complementarity: The case of Hong
Kong. This can be found at: http//www.ugc.edu.hk/english/documents/papers/nf-gate9.html. 10 This might change under pressure from EU law.
exchange information and strives to resolve international recognition issues. Secondly, there is
the European Network of Information Centres (ENIC) network established by the Council of
Europe and UNESCO/CEPES. This performs a similar function to the NARIC network but at
a pan-European level, encompassing some 50 countries. The two networks meet jointly. The
third network is that organised under the European Association for International Education
(EAIE) professional section, for Admissions Officers and Credential Evaluators (ACE). This
network promotes discussion of all matters associated with recognition issues.
1.4.4 European Union Directives
The European Directives 89/48/EEC and 92/51/EEC provide a framework for the recognition
of qualifications for the purposes of access to regulated professions in the countries of the
European Union and the European Economic Area. The task of the co-ordinators of the
Directives appointed by each member state is to facilitate the implementation of the directives
and to collect useful information for its application in the member states. It should be noted
that the Directives do not exclude transnational education.
1.4.5 Codes of practice
A number of codes of practice relate (directly and indirectly) to transnational education:
; The Draft Code of Good Practice in the Provision of Transnational Education, developed
jointly by a UNESCO/Council of Europe working party. This code is due to be submitted
to the Lisbon Recognition Convention Committee for adoption in 2001.
; The Draft Recommendation on Criteria and Procedures for the Assessment of Foreign
Qualifications and Periods of Study, developed by a Council of Europe/UNESCO-
CEPES working party. This code is also due to be submitted to the Lisbon Recognition
Convention Committee for adoption in 2001.
; The Code of Ethical Practice in the Provision of Education to International Students by 11Australian Universities.
; The UK Code of Practice for the Assurance of Academic Quality and Standards in 12Higher Education: Section 2 Collaborative Provision.
; Principles of Good practice for Educational Programs for Non-US Nationals is a code
used by several US regional accrediting bodies.
1.4.6 Transparency mechanisms
Several devices aid transparency, mobility and recognition. These are tools that facilitate the
process of recognition and have the potential to impact on transnational education:
; The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) was designed to facilitate mobility and
recognition (of periods of study abroad). It is used by 1200 higher education institutions
and provides a framework where study in the temporary host country is fully recognised
(credit is transferred) in the home country when the student returns and completes his/her
programme of studies. This system has the potential for much wider application and the
feasibility of its extension to become a „European Credit System‟, allowing for 13accumulation and transfer within the lifelong learning perspective, has been verified. In
this guise it has particular relevance for transnational education.
11 Australian Vice Chancellors‟ Committee (1998) Code of Ethical Practice in the provision of
Education to International Students by Australian Universities. 12 Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (1999) Code of Practice for the Assurance of
Academic Quality and Standards in Higher Education: Collaborative Provision.
(http://www.qaa.ac.uk/public/COP/eprovis/contents.htm). 13 Adam, S (2000) ECTS Extension Feasibility Project Report. Commissioned by the European
14 provides a means to make qualifications more transparent. It ; The Diploma Supplement
provides for value-free and accurate information on the nature, level, content, context and
status of a qualification. Such provision has obvious applications in the context of
; The European Network for Quality Assurance (ENQA) is a loose network of European
quality assurance agencies, which was formed in 1999. Currently, its work is limited to
the exchange of information and practice, staff development workshops and research
projects. In the longer term it has the potential to develop a more central role in relation to
transnational education, acting as a „clearing house‟ for information about transnational
1.4.7 International trade agreements
A number of international trade agreements relate to the provision of educational services.
Perhaps the most notable of these is the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) of
the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In preparation for the WTO Seattle meeting in 1999, a
background note on Educational Services was prepared. It identified direct (immigration rules)
and indirect (recognition) barriers to education. It is possible that national restrictions imposed
on transnational education providers could become highly problematic, indeed Wilson and 15Vlăsceanu remark
„In this context Member States, and their national higher education systems, will be
obliged to treat transnational education offerings in the same way as national
GATS is a multilateral trade agreement that aims to liberalise the global economy by
providing „legally enforceable rights to trade in all services‟. There is considerable
disagreement over the potential of GATS to affect education because it exempts services
provided in the exercise of governmental authority. However, higher education is increasingly
being supplied by commercial organisations in highly competitive situations by American
„for-profit‟ universities, Corporate universities, and new global consortia like „Universitas 21‟,
an incorporated company of 18 universities drawn from ten countries.
16It has recently been suggested by Jonathan Rutherford that
'Universities are being drawn into the growing information market. GATS could
destroy the public interest in policy making in services such as education and end the
ideal of a democratic education system run by accountable public authorities.‟
The outcomes of the GATS discussions are unclear and highly contentious and underline how
Europe cannot afford to ignore transnational education.
1.5 METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES
1.5.1 Establishing the project
14 Jointly developed by a European Commission, Council of Europe and UNESCO working Party in 1998. 15 Wilson, L and Vlăsceanu, L (2000) Transnational Education and Recognition of Qualifications.
UNESCO/CEPES Papers on Higher Education, Bucharest. 16th Rutherford, J (26 January, 2001) Scholars Squeezed by Market Muscle, published in the Times
Higher Education Supplement, London.