University Opens New Chapter by Branching out Overseas; Cardiff Metropolitan University Has Come a Long Way since Averting the Threat of Dissolution. Here, Mike Jones Speaks to University Leaders about the Need to Look beyond the Confines of Your Own Borders and across the Globe in Order to Stay Ahead in the World of Higher Education

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to dissolve Cardiff Metropolitan University stole headlines two years ago and in the intervening period, many within the pro-merger camp have watched with interest to see if it was justified in going it alone.

But since proposals to force its hand were scrapped and the university was given licence to continue operating as an autonomous institution, Cardiff Met has built upon its extensive international offering, which has long been a firm focus for the university.

Professor Mohamed Loutfi, dean of international development at Cardiff Met, is also pro vice-chancellor responsible for leading the development and implementation of the university's internationalisation strategy at home and abroad.

He said: "This year, our international students rated Cardiff Met the best in the UK for a fourth year running, and we are very proud of that. To be voted highest in the UK for learning experience and living experience, in the International Student Barometer conducted by i-Graduate, goes some way to showing where we are and the reputation we have built here.

"Thirty-one percent of our UK students are from overseas and we also operate in many countries globally, via the partnerships we have established with 13 other higher education providers.

Partnerships are initiated after both institutions recognise a match and common perspectives between both partners. Long-term partnerships are like a marriage - you have to choose them carefully."

There were many raised eyebrows during the university's high-profile battle for survival, while Prof Antony Chapman, Cardiff Met's vice-chancellor and principal, remained insistent that it was well-placed to remain as a free-standing university and was not too small to survive.

The university's extensive internationalisation offering has always been key to his overall strategy for Cardiff Met's future standing. In 2012-13, many Cardiff Met students studied abroad with the university's Transnational education (TNE) partners in countries such as Bulgaria, Egypt, Morocco, Malaysia, Korea, Bangladesh, Singapore, India and Sri Lanka.

TNE refers to education provision for students based in a country other than the one in which the awarding institution is located. For the UK, this means students based overseas studying for UK educational qualifications.

Prof Chapman said: "We have influenced the international agenda for some time and back in December 2011, when Pehin Hazair, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports for Brunei Darussalam, visited us, he was introduced to Huw Lewis, then Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, but now Minister for Education and Skills." The university's extensive portfolio of internationalisation projects incorporates several TNE partnerships delivered via a variety of methods including validation and franchise; joint delivery in the case of the partnership with Samsung Art and Design Institute (SADI) in South Korea (whereby one semester is taught at Cardiff Met, with the other two at SADI); as well as offering "external moderation" or quality assurance guidance and developmental advice and "flying faculty".

For example, Cardiff Met's masters in food science available at the University of Hong Kong is run by a flying faculty, involving Cardiff Met academics flying to their students to offer intensive, condensed blocks of teaching, before returning to Wales.

TNE partnerships also enable UK-based Cardiff Met students to study part of their degree overseas on a Cardiff Met approved degree programme. One of Cardiff Met's more established TNE partnerships is with East Asia Institute of Management in Singapore, where the relationship dates back to 2005.

Since Prof Loutfi joined Cardiff Met in January 2009, the university's portfolio of TNE part-ners has grown from four to 13.

When internationalisation was in its infancy, UK universities promoted having agents in each country, although there has since been a shift in focus to bring students from abroad to study in Cardiff. …