Academic journal article Business Education & Accreditation

Transnational Education: An Australian Approach to Assuring Quality and Engaging Offshore Staff

Academic journal article Business Education & Accreditation

Transnational Education: An Australian Approach to Assuring Quality and Engaging Offshore Staff

Article excerpt


Traditionally and despite the growth and increased importance of transnational education (TNE) staff development and induction in offshore locations are undertaken from afar with sporadic actual engagement. As a long time TNE provider, in an often complex environment, the Curtin Business School (CBS) at Curtin University, in Perth, Western Australia has developed and is implementing a multifaceted approach to the induction of offshore staff. The article reflects on the context, roll-out and results of a newly developed residential staff induction program. The program facilitated skill development and understanding but more importantly established an unanticipated depth of connectedness and commitment.

JEL: 123, M16

KEYWORDS: Multinational Education; Offshore Staff; Quality Assurance


In the current climate of continuous assessment of a range of quality assurance assessments, most prominently in the Australian tertiary education environment the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) and AACSB, Australian education providers have little choice but to put measures in place that provide evidence of quality assurance measures on all fronts. This requires that the matter of staff at offshore locations being well versed and trained to achieve equivalence of delivery, governance and service must be addressed.

While the delivery of Australian education in offshore locations has grown exponentially from about 12560 students in 1996 to about 73000 students in 2004, the number of courses offered has grown from 441 programs to 1569 programs over the same period of time (Chapman and Pyvis. 2006). In 2004 all Australian public universities had an established presence in an offshore location (National Tertiary Education Union, 2004). Although the notion of international education has been gaining research attention over the past twenty or so years, little research has been undertaken on the delivery of education in an offshore location and the subsequent impact on quality assurance and delivery standards. The focus of this paper is to reflect on the intended and unintended consequences of an initiative aimed at assisting to quality assure the transnational education (TNE) activities of the Curtin Business School. As part of efforts to enhance continuous improvements across its TNE locations CBS developed and implemented a new program aimed at bringing targeted staff from each TNE location to the Perth campus for an intensive and comprehensive residential induction program. The paper starts by providing a concise context of TNE before moving to aspects of staffing and reputation and the Australian and subject environment. While the data and methodology section explains the rationale and participants to the study the discussion considers immediate feedback, strengths, improvements and the long term assessment. The paper ends with concluding comments.


TNE - Context and Trends

TNE has historically followed a clearly identifiable route whereby students flow from a range of middle income developing countries, mostly in the Asian region, into a small number of predominantly Anglophone industrialised nations. As demand for English based education outstrips supply, tertiary education providers in English language countries have exploited the situation, particularly through the financial premium it commands. McBurnie and Ziguras (2007) establish that this is particularly the case in Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and in recent days also China. In Hong Kong and Singapore a range of Western universities have established a strong presence through partnering or branch campus arrangements. At the supply side the market is dominated by the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States whose competitive position in the TNE market is strengthened by the potential of migration options and the overall attraction of society. In some instances the countries that initially sent students abroad have now evolved as providers of Anglo-education as TNE education providers have shifted their presence (Altbach, 2003). …

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