Edinburgh Global

The importance of TNE partnerships

Transnational Education (TNE) activity has been growing exponentially over the last decade and – particularly due to the current Covid-19 pandemic – is likely to play a significant role in partnerships and higher education in the future.

What is TNE?

TNE is a broad term which can be used to describe a range of teaching and partnerships models, including but not limited to, joint and dual degree programmes, double awards, blended learning and branch campuses.

The number of students studying with Scottish providers has increased over the last 10 years with results from Universities UK International (UUKI) research showing the student headcount being over 42,000 for the academic year 2018-19.

Read the report and view the interactive graphs on the UUKI website

Why are these partnerships more important than ever now?

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, there has been an increased investment in the transition to blended and remote learning. UK NARIC’s Guide to Recognition Issues in International Distance Learning, looks at the some of the key challenges and the long-standing complex issues surrounding the recognition of qualifications obtained though distance learning. The report has particular focus on China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Singapore and Sri Lanka, with other countries being focused on in future publications.

Universities UK, Independent HE and the Association of Colleges have jointly published principles and guidance for collaborative teaching partnerships during the Covid-19 pandemic. The guidance includes examples of effective practice that others may want to replicate or learn from.

Read the full guide on the Universities UK website

QAA has published a summary of the impact that Covid-19 has on UK TNE partnerships. The publication, Effective Practice in UK Transnational Education released during the Covid-19 Pandemic, provides information and reflective questions for providers to evaluate the changes they’ve made in the light of the pandemic.

Protecting the UK post-Brexit

Another factor supporting the renewed importance of TNE partnerships is the UK’s departure from the European Union. Universities UK recently submitted written evidence concerning the future UK-EU relationship for UK TNE to the House of Lords’ European Union Services Sub-Committee. The article states that TNE services should be protected by a comprehensive agreement to avoid falling back on WTO rules, ensure market access to UK HE providers, protect the recognition of UK qualifications, and enable mobility of professionals.

Read Universities UK’s written evidence.

TNE at the University of Edinburgh

Zhejiang University-University of Edinburgh Institute (ZJE) is an innovative TNE collaboration in the fields of Biomedical Sciences and Biomedical Informatics. Both universities established the joint research and teaching institute in Zhejiang, which delivers 4-year dual award undergraduate programmes in Integrative Biomedical Science and Biomedical Informatics in addition to a dual award PhD programme.

Read more about ZJE in our feature The journey of the Zhejiang University-University of Edinburgh Institute.

Other TNE partnerships at the University include the collaboration between the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and Shanghai International College of Fashion and Innovation (SCF). The partnership includes 5-week projects created, delivered and assessed by academic staff from Interior Design and Fashion at the University of Edinburgh. During their second year of study, students at SCF also have the opportunity to transfer to study their third and fourth years in Fashion or Interior Design at Edinburgh.

Read more about the partnership in our feature, Transnational activity in Shanghai.

Support from the Edinburgh Global Partnerships Team

The University has a range of resources available for staff and our Partnerships Team can provide support and signposting to help you. The Team's webpages have recently been updated and there is a store of useful guidance for University of Edinburgh (the area is EASE protected for staff only).

If you’re interested in setting up a partnership or in TNE, please get in touch. We also publish useful information for staff online:

TNE in Scotland

Universities Scotland have been working to showcase the wide range of TNE opportunities across Scottish universities. In this highlight some of the innovative programmes including Stirling’s Media and Communications links to Vietnam, Heriot-Watt’s campuses in Malaysia and Dubai, and Aberdeen’s Qatar campus.

Read more about these partnerships in Universities Scotland Internationally Scottish publication.

British Council resources

The British Council has a range of videos on HE partnerships including

  • Research Collaborations: Beyond the pandemic: the future of international research collaboration - Watch the video
  • Teaching and Learning: Reimagining equitable access – Challenges and opportunities in online teaching and learning - Watch the video
  • Social Innovation: Fostering societal impact through social innovation and entrepreneurship across boundaries - Watch the video
  • TNE - Governance Policy and Management in Uncertain Times - Watch the video
  • TNE - Student Experience in a Post-Mobility Environment - Watch the video
  • TNE - Academics and Faculties engagement - Watch the video
  • TNE – Directions of Travel - Watch the video
  • TNE – adapting to and fostering ‘new world’ partnerships - Watch the video