top of page
Transnational educators and researchers connect at TNE Hub Symposium

A new research community sharing knowledge to improve transnational education decision-making and good practice launched on 10 June with a Research Symposium at Nottingham Trent University. It aims to bridge gaps, connecting researchers worldwide and contributing to TNE strategic planning and investment.


The UK has long been an attractive destination for international students. Yet despite large increases worldwide in numbers of people attending university, the percentage studying abroad has stayed small. So universities in Britain, the US, Australia and other countries now provide education in new, innovative ways.


Transnational education, delivered in a country other than that where the awarding institution is based and known by the acronym TNE, is a way for students worldwide to participate in and benefit from higher education without necessarily spending time far away from home. It is evolving at a bewildering rate.


More Malaysian students, for instance, now study at branch campuses of UK universities than travel to Britain to study, and an array of partnerships offer the chance for students to study for a year or two at a university in their home country and at an overseas university, earning a ‘dual degree’ from both institutions.


UK universities have already built an impressive presence among transnational education ‘exporting countries’, but as demand and supply has increased, so has international competition, the variety of TNE operating models used, and concerns about quality and reputational risk for awarding institutions.


Dr Vangelis Tsiligiris, Senior Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, envisaged the ‘TNE-Hub’ to help share the best research and experience with universities engaging in TNE. Based partly on his own experiences managing TNE partnerships with UK and Czech universities, he has gained substantial research and consultancy expertise in the internationalisation of higher education.


“What is the best model for exporting education in other countries? How do contextual factors affect the effectiveness of teaching and learning models in offshore locations? What are the best ways to enrich and reassure student experience for transnational education students?” Informed answers to these questions and many more will help university managers planning TNE provision, researchers tracking worldwide provision and educators developing teaching and learning.


Dr Tsiligiris is developing the TNE-Hub and its first Symposium with Professor Nigel Healey, Pro-Vice-Chancellor International at Nottingham Trent University, Dr William Lawton, former Director of the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE), with support from HE Global and Palgrave Macmillan.


“There is a real need to create a virtuous circle in international higher education where practice, research and strategic decision-making all interlink effectively to benefit from shared intelligence,” says Dr Tsiligiris.


“TNE is fast maturing to a point where supply of provision is now close to meeting levels of demand. This will intensify competitive pressure on higher education systems in major TNE-exporting countries challenging them to find ways to differentiate provision and maintain their competitive edge. Our TNE-Hub can help.”


Professor Healey, a leading TNE researcher and Vice-Chancellor Designate at Fiji National University, says: “Global enrolments in higher education have quadrupled since 1980 to reach 200m, but the percentage studying abroad has remained steady at 2% of the total.  This means that, for a range of social, cultural and financial reasons, 98% of students are unable or unwilling to leave their home country for study.  There is enormous scope for UK universities to tap into this huge market of immobile students, by serving them through transnational education ‘in country’.  The TNE-Hub aims to engage TNE researchers across the UK and worldwide to help universities reach out across borders to improve global HE.”


Dr Lawton, who worked for the UK HE International Unit from its inception in 2007 and was Director of the OBHE from 2011 until 2014, has researched transnational education, the interplay of TNE and mobility, and the digital HE revolution for more than two decades.


Speaking about how the Hub and the Research Symposium can improve understanding of TNE, he says: “We need 21st-century forms of TNE based on mobility: mobility of people rather than programmes and mobility that is multidirectional rather than unidirectional. Under the title ‘Bridging the gap: Research and practice in transnational education’ this first symposium for the TNE-Hub seeks to cover key current themes.


“We will explore strategic development of TNE, models of delivery, ways to enhance student experience, issues affecting quality management and assurance, and staff engagement and development. It’s a way to begin shaping the work of the TNE-Hub and – through a super range of speakers and delegates – to connect with future collaborators.”


Raegan Hiles, Head of Programme for HEGlobal, welcomes the initiative. “Great projects, research and best practice are a longstanding feature of TNE literature. But they are too often developed in isolation from each other. The TNEHub is a platform bringing together different parts of this scholarship to form a community – in the same way as HEGlobal links TNE policymakers, strategists and practitioners.


“HEGlobal, the joint initiative between the UK HE International Unit and the British Council, exists to empower UK universities’ TNE activity. We are delighted to support the TNEHub, in particular with our work around The Scale and Scope of UK HE TNE, due for publication soon.”


The TNE-Hub’s inaugural Research Symposium featured 20 speakers and session chairs – all leading transnational education researchers, practitioners or policy advisers – from BIS, the British Council, DAAD (Germany), Education Insight, EP-Nuffic (The Netherlands), HEGlobal, i-graduate, Laureate Online Education, the OBHE, the QAA, Vicky Lewis Consulting, and the Universities of Coventry, Edinburgh, Huddersfield, Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, Reading and Staffordshire. The full list is here:


The full programme for the Research Symposium on 10 June can be downloaded from


Papers from the Symposium and other content will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in late 2016 in an edited volume of research entitled TNE 2.0: Improving practice through research.


For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Simon Butt-Bethlendy, GlobalHE Consulting, on +44 (0)7939 639875 | +44 (0)115 714 2127, or at




As a growing community of researchers and practitioners in transnational education, the TNE-Hub will facilitate the exchange of good practice and research evidence so as to support the development of efficient and effective TNE strategies and activities. By transcending institutional boundaries and geographical distances, the TNE-Hub will enable joint research projects in the field of TNE and international HE using technology to bring together the very best combination of researchers and practitioners worldwide.


Register here to participate in the TNE-Hub as a researcher, a practitioner or both:

bottom of page