Edinburgh Global

Transnational activity in Shanghai

We spoke to Dr Juliette MacDonald, Director of ECA/SCF Partnership, to learn about the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and Donghua University collaboration, an example of transnational activity in action.

Transnational activity is growing at incredible speed across the board. Indeed, according to UUKI, “84% of UK universities are now delivering TNE (transnational education) to over 700,000 students worldwide, which has been increasing since 2007.”

At the University of Edinburgh, activity is also set to grow. This growth is not simply about an increase in recruitment – successful transnational partnerships (TNP) are underpinned by learning from existing activity to improve the ongoing approach, while ensuring that staff feel equipped to support these exciting new activities.

It is an area of interest for the UK government too – in 2017, for example, the Department for Education published an updated report on the benefits for the UK that transnational activity can bring.

The growth of pace in activity has prompted developments such as the British Council launching the UK-East Asia Advisory Group in 2018 in an effort to enhance existing transnational activity and diversify future offerings while ensuring best practice.

One such example of transnational activity is the collaboration between Edinburgh College of Art and Shanghai International College of Fashion and Innovation. In December 2017, Justine Greening, then British Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, visited SCF and observed students’ work in progress.

Strong partnerships

Developing stronger partnerships to underpin TNP is often highlighted as an area of importance in the future of the activity. In fact, it was with this in mind that the SCF/ECA collaboration began.

Founded in April 2014, Juliette explained that it started with “the aim of strengthening existing relationships, sharing expertise and improving educational opportunities between Donghua and Edinburgh Universities.”

In China, Donghua is renowned for being a centre of excellence in fashion teaching, and so sharing knowledge and skills with them to give students from around the world a high-quality experience in the teaching area of fashion was something both sides were keen to pursue.

The SCF/ECA partnership is unique in that it is wholly international in its outlook, seeking students and staff from across the world to ensure a global vision for the disciplines of design, whilst also harnessing professional skills and intellectual support.

Juliette on the partnership

Course delivery

The courses include 5-week projects which are created, delivered and assessed by academic staff from Interior Design and Fashion at the University of Edinburgh.

Juliette highlighted that the model was a great way to enable students to capitalise on the strengths of each country in relation to the fashion industry:

“Students are ideally positioned to profit from the creative approaches pioneered in the UK art and design HE sector and traditions of production and design prioritised in China.”

Inauguration ceremony for semester
2017 SCF Inauguration Ceremony for New Semester

During their second year of study, SCF students have the opportunity to transfer for years 3 and 4 to study Fashion or Interior Design at Edinburgh College of Art. Students who have completed two years study at SCF and two years study at ECA, and passed all courses required by both SCF and ECA, will receive a University of Edinburgh BA (Hons) in Fashion or BA (Hons) Interior Design. Students who remain at SCF will receive the Donghua University Undergraduate Graduation Certificate.

June 2018 saw the first cohort of students graduate from SCF which was a proud moment for everyone who had been involved with creating the partnership and developing the College.

One of the fashion students who transferred to ECA in 16/17 won the UK Michael Kors competition and has been offered an internship with the company in New York.

We are looking forward to the ECA graduation ceremony in July when the first students who transferred to Edinburgh from Shanghai will graduate. A few members of the teaching team in SCF will be joining ECA colleagues in the academic procession here in Edinburgh.

Juliette on highlights of SCF
graduation ceremony
SCF 2018 Degree Awarding Ceremony and Graduation Ceremony

Supporting TNP activity

Professional services are often intrinsically linked to TNP activity. For ECA, this meant working with Edinburgh Innovation for costing assistance in the consultancy stages of development. It also meant working with the Global Partnerships team, who were greatly supportive during the process. Other TNP activity, such as the Zhejiang University-University of Edinburgh Institute, had support from Information Services because of technology needs.

The process can often involve complexities, and it’s important that professional services staff feel as prepared as possible when it comes to supporting transnational activity.

In an effort to ensure this, as well as foster awareness of TNP amongst professional services staff for those who have perhaps not been involved in the activity before, Edinburgh Global held a workshop on supporting and driving transnational partnerships.

This was to help staff to expand their understanding of professional services support for transnational education partnerships, and the crucial roles that they play in launching and delivering these ventures.

It included:

  • A quickfire Show and Tell of professional service roles in support of transnational partnerships or a specific partnership
  • A short Q&A
  • A networking lunch