Transitional Higher Education is increasingly becoming popular as it provides internationally recognized education at the doorstep of students. It is an arrangement in which courses or programs offered by an educational institution based in one country are delivered to students located in another country. An elaborate definition of transnational education is given by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which states ‘all types of higher education study programs, or sets of courses of study, or educational services (including those of distance education) in which the learners are located in a country different from the one where the awarding institution is based’.



Transnational Higher Education is considered to be borderless higher education that offers all forms of higher education activities operating in parallel to the higher education system of the host country. Transnational Higher Education in the context of globalization has become a market-driven activity to promote multicultural, diverse, and internationalized outlooks among students 

The changes in the economy, the intensity of global interaction, and desire to actively engage in international activities, and the need to create social and human capital as means of economic development have created a variety of challenges for Universities and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), the most important ones being the development of a framework to address the systematic internationalization of higher education

The current trend of internationalization of the higher education system has generated student mobility between countries. The creation of these study hubs has changed the demography of the student cohort. The location of these hubs has influenced the curriculum, related facilities, and infrastructure. A recent study carried out by British Council shows that UK TNE numbers have grown across all regions at an overall higher growth rate than ever before.  As an example, In 2020–21, UK TNE was reported in 228 countries and territories, with 510,835 students studying via UK TNE  which shows a 12.7% increase from the previous year. 


  • Asia continued to be the top host region for UK TNE students in 2020–21, with 252,845 students, it hosted 49.5% of the total. Asia was followed by the European Union (15.8%), the Middle East (13.8%), Africa (11.1%), North America (5.3%), non-EU Europe (3.4%), Australasia (0.6%), and South America (0.6%).  

  • China was the top host country for UK TNE (61,495 students; 12.0% of the total), followed by Malaysia (48,460; 9.5%), Sri Lanka (37,175; 7.3%), Singapore (27,875; 5.5%) and Egypt (23,805; 4.7%).  

  • Student numbers in the EU increased by 24,825 (+44.7%) between 2016–17 and 2020–21. The unprecedented mobility of people over the years for various reasons including migration, political and economic security, trade and business, employment, tourism, study, and research has propelled the need for the internationalisation of higher education. This mass movement has transformed social institutions, cultural practices, and a sense of identity and belongingness.

Transnational Higher Education helps individuals, institutions, communities, and the world at large by enhancing

  •  International Outlook

Internationalization of the curriculum and the institution as a whole promotes different models of HE provision and new pedagogies, forms of assessment, and quality assurance systems benefitting the local universities thus Improving the international outlook of the country and respective institution

  • Capacity Building & Institutional Development 

Knowledge transfer in teaching, learning, professional and technical areas with wider demonstration effect helps local institutions observe and adapt the innovations that foreign universities bring into the country. This leads to sector-wide improvements in quality and efficiency. It also strengthens the research capability of both institutions through the exchange of knowledge and expertise. This framework engages local staff in jointly developed courses thus developing local skills and reducing capital outflow. 

  • Quality of Higher Education

TNHE  helps System-level capacity building by improving the quality and diversity of an institution’s offer, enabling it to develop and thrive as it stimulates mobility in all forms, including for staff and students, academic programs, and branch campuses. 

  • Increased Competitiveness 

TNHE increases the competitiveness of local higher education institutions as it offers more choices for students and opportunities for competition development among foreign and local institutions hence quality improvement. competition from transnational education, universities of many host nations have emerged as strong international competitors in the race for talent hunts, research, and innovation. 

  • Widened access to international higher education

Many students who are unwilling or unable to travel abroad to study still seek an internationally recognised qualification. Students can gain an internationally recognised qualification much more affordably, both because they avoid the travel and living costs of studying overseas and because tuition fees are invariably much lower at the TNE partner than if they studied at the home campuses 

  • Reducing Brain Drain

Help reduce brain drain, and retain talent as more students choose TNE instead of going overseas. An increased supply of higher education in the host country decreases pressure on the local education system.

TNHE encourages foreign universities to set up transnational partnerships in- the country to meet the growing demand for higher education. This reduces the financial outflow and the emigration of talented students more students choose TNE instead of going overseas 

  • Increased Employability

By encouraging leading foreign universities to set up branch campuses, typically in partnership with local universities, TNE operations typically employ a mixture of seconded, local, and expatriate staff. Not only do the local and expatriate staff strengthen the pool of academic talent in the host country, but their exposure to the rest of the higher education system brings a more international orientation to the hosting sector. 

  • Meeting the skills needs of the labor market

Graduates of TNE programmes, like graduates who have studied abroad, are more likely to be employed in industries, and roles, where the global outlook is highly valued. In many countries, economic globalisation has created new opportunities in internationally oriented businesses for such graduates, with salaries significantly higher than in domestically oriented firms.

  • Recruitment of international students and talent attraction

By studying for a foreign award with a franchise partner or at an international branch campus, gaining almost the same educational experience directly comparable with the home campus, the students know that they will qualify for a globally valued degree, which will be recognised by employers and immigration authorities worldwide.


There are five popular collaborative modes widely used in transnational education. These include:

  • Franchising or partnership 

Under this mode of delivery, a provider from the offering country authorizes a provider or a partner in the host country to deliver its courses and programs. The qualification is awarded by the source country’s institution. All arrangements for teaching, management, assessment, profit-sharing, and awarding of qualifications are arranged in compliance with the host and source countries’ regulations/policies. In many cases, academic staff from the source country’s institution visits the host country’s partner to deliver intensive lectures within a short duration, and the education quality and assessments are moderated by the academic staff of the offering institution. Over 90% of all courses and programs are being offered in the host country through this arrangement. 

  • Branch campus 

Under a branch campus arrangement, an educational institution of higher studies from the offering country (source country) establishes a fully-fledged branch campus in the host country to deliver courses and programs to students in that country. This arrangement allows the offering institution to conduct educational activities more effectively than any other mode. It allows appointing qualified local staff as well academic staff from the offering country on a contract basis or deputation. However, offering programs through branch campuses is costly and requires significant financial commitment on offering university’s behalf. Around 5% of courses and programs are currently offered under this arrangement [1,4,5,11]. Nevertheless, the branch campus mode is becoming popular among students in countries such as India, China, and Bangladesh and liberal countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. 

  •  Articulation 

The articulation is a systematic recognition by an institution from the offering country of specified course(s) or program(s) at an institution in the host country. This model allows partial credit transfer towards a program at the offering institution. Under this arrangement, an institution in the source country collaborates with a provider in the host country to develop an articulation arrangement allowing students to take courses in the host country’s institution and get credit transfer 

  • Distance Learning Education 

Under distance/virtual education delivery mode, courses and programs are offered via televisions, radios, computers, internet, video conferencing, Skype, Lectopia, virtual blackboard, correspondence, or other methods within or beyond the national boundaries. All students directly enroll in the source country’s institution from anywhere in the world. Under this mode of delivery, occasionally some arrangements of face-to-face intensive lectures/workshops and other supports are offered to students through regional study or support centers. 

  • Double/joint degree 

Offering a double degree or joint degree is a new phenomenon. Under this scheme, education providers in different countries collaborate to offer a single degree program and/or double degree program for which students receive qualifications from both providers or a joint award from the collaborating partners. This arrangement is especially popular among European, North American, and Australasian universities. 

  • Study abroad 

In this model, a student from a country travels to undertake courses and degrees for a fixed time at an institution that is located in a different country. Under this arrangement, after completion of the course(s), students get due recognition of their completed courses in their home country. The arrangement allows students to be exposed to and experience different cultures, languages, and lifestyles. This mode of transnational education is popular among students in developing nations.