Westminster Higher Education Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Next steps for UK transnational education - quality and trust, branch campuses and remote learning, and growing the UK profile and position in global markets

Morning, Friday, 15th January 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will discuss priorities and next steps for UK transnational education, as the QAA consults on its proposed new approach to reviewing and enhancing the quality of UK TNE, and how it is perceived across the world.

The discussion at a glance:

  • the QAA approach - and priorities for improving the quality of UK transnational education, including:
    • international relationships and joint working
    • quality enhancement
    • meeting the needs of institutions providing TNE, and taking account of the challenges they face
  • building confidence in UK TNE - and improving global profile, recognition and trust
  • growth opportunities - developing branch campuses, ramping up remote learning, innovation and financially-sustainable business strategies, and growing partnerships in Europe and globally
  • safeguarding - protecting TNE providers and services from potential security and other challenges presented by international partnerships

Why this is relevant - the context:

  • Quality Evaluation and Enhancement of UK TNE - from the QAA, which has been commissioned by UUK and GuildHE to develop a new approach to increasing confidence for stakeholders in the UK and globally in transnational education by identifying shared challenges and areas for improvement, and best practice and innovative ways forward for tackling them
  • Transnational Education Quality Benchmark (TNE QB) - the UK NARIC scheme aiming to foster trust in TNE qualifications
  • Managing risks in Internationalisation: Security related issues - UUK guidance on better understanding and safeguarding against security risks associated with international partnerships in HE
  • Wider policy - measures aiming to restructure and streamline the higher education sector, such as the Higher education restructuring regime and Reducing bureaucratic burden in research, innovation and higher education
  • Cross-governmental and devolved strategies - initiatives for developing transnational education across the UK, including:
    • International Education Strategy: global potential, global growth - from 2019 aiming to increase UK higher education exports to £35bn per year by 2030
    • Global Wales - a Welsh higher education partnership - between British Council Wales, Universities Wales, the Welsh Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales
    • the Connected Scotland partnership - to grow the sector’s export income

Key areas for discussion:

  • the QAA approach - priorities for its substantive work reviewing and improving the quality of UK transnational education, including:
    • international relationships and joint working:
      • involvement of local agencies and organisations in quality enhancement and regulation
      • deepening understandings of host countries’ operating environments and in-country networks
    • quality enhancement - ensuring that the system for achieving improvement:
      • is flexible and cost-efficient without undue burdens on institutions
      • takes account of student needs, and the goal of parity of TNE provision with expectations and experience of UK-based students
      • is supported by robust measurement and evidence
    • meeting the needs of institutions providing TNE - as well as the environment in which they operate, taking into account:
      • other pressures that providers are facing such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
      • how TNE fits with the wider policy context of calls for the UK higher education sector to streamline its operation and concentrate on quality output
    • the COVID policy context:
      • cutting bureaucratic and administrative burden - to enable providers across the sector to focus on post-pandemic recovery
      • the higher education restructuring regime - providing support on condition of commitment to improving the quality of their courses, equipping students with high-quality skills, and ensuring research output can contribute towards local economic growth
  • building confidence in UK TNE:
    • what is required from the global community of TNE providers to improve the recognition and trust in TNE qualifications
    • the potential impact of approaches such as quality benchmarking
  • growth opportunities:
    • remote learning:
      • next steps for developing branch campuses
      • use of edtech - latest thinking and experience of its incorporation into provision at branch campuses and the way forward for best practice
      • standards - priorities for ensuring that the quality of remote education at branch campuses is on a competitive par with what is offered in the UK and by host country providers
    • innovation and business models - new ways that institutions are growing and improving transnational education exports in a financially sustainable way, and opportunities going forward
    • recruitment and retention - latest approaches to widening awareness of the quality of UK higher education abroad, and how this needs to dovetail with enhanced provision
  • global profile:
    • assessing the UK’s standing in international higher education and priorities for enhancement, taking into account benchmarking, quality assurance, and improvement initiatives
    • what is needed from policy to support the UK’s TNE partnerships in Europe and to build new global markets
  • risk mitigation - safeguarding against potential security and other challenges presented by international partnerships, including:

    • threats to intellectual property, cybersecurity and academic freedom including in the areas of free speech and institutional autonomy
    • how UK TNE providers can ensure that increased international collaboration is matched with adequate safeguarding and collaboration with governing bodies and stakeholders

The agenda:

  • Transnational education in the UK
  • Improving global recognition and trust in UK TNE qualifications
  • Trends in international and borderless higher education and growing the UK’s future role
    • The current international higher education landscape and opportunities for UK providers
    • Measuring global engagement amongst UK universities
    • TNE partnerships in Europe post-Brexit
    • The future direction for developing UK TNE outside Europe
  • Next steps for developing branch campuses - partnerships and local collaboration, remote learning opportunities, financially sustainability and mitigating risks
  • Policy priorities for growing UK transnational education and its global position into the future

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

Overall, we expect further speakers and other delegates to be an informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials from DfE, BEIS, FCDO and other Government departments and agencies, together with senior representatives from universities and industry; academics and other higher education professionals; TNE providers; lawyers; businesses and their advisors; research charities, councils and funders; publishers; local authorities; think tanks and research institutes; international higher education bodies, along with commentators and reporters from the national and trade media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Eduardo Ramos

Head of Transnational Education, Universities UK International

Dr Fabrizio Trifiro

Head of Quality Benchmark Services, UK NARIC

Aisling Conboy

Higher Education Specialist, Education Team, Department for International Trade


Dr Janet Ilieva

Director and Founder, Education Insight

Julian Fisher

Co-Founder and Senior Partner, Venture Education

Glynne Stanfield

Partner, Eversheds Sutherland

Justin Cooke

Chief Content & Partnerships Officer, FutureLearn

Professor Jeremy Carrette

Professor of Philosophy, Religion and Culture and Dean for Europe, University of Kent