Transnational Education: An Innovative Approach to Learning

Singapore is one of the countries that took the first steps into the world of transnational education. Since 2013, its growth in the country has been fast and extensive. Several educational institutions have formed partnerships to deliver high quality education to local students desiring an overseas degree programme without leaving their home country.

Singapore Transnational Education

As defined in the Code of Good Practice in the Provision of Transnational Education, transnational education refers to “all types of higher education study programmes, 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. Such programmes may belong to the education system of a State different from the State in which it operates, or may operate independently of any national education system.” Transnational education (TNE) can thus be simply characterised as an alternative to traditional international student mobility and domestic higher education for students.

The most common forms of transnational education are international branch campus, distance learning arrangements, franchising, international institutions, large corporations, offshore institution, and programme articulations. If a higher education institution from a foreign country aims to offer its educational programmes to the host country, the former penetrates the market by establishing a branch campus. This arrangement is similar to franchising but in the latter, the franchiser grants only the franchisee the right to offer its programmes in the franchisee’s host country.

Moreover, there are programme articulations arranged by two or more institutions that recognise study credits and credit transfer. Distance learning arrangements, on the other hand, work like virtual universities. Students are offered online courses across a wide range of subjects and they are allowed to study anywhere at any time over the internet. It is an innovative and flexible way of learning.

When we speak of international institutions, these pertain to institutions providing international programmes. In Singapore, most international schools use IB programmes and as a result, students enjoy a world-class educational learning. Meanwhile, offshore institutions are autonomously established in the host country. Some of these institutions are accredited by the national or regional accrediting commissions in their mother country.

And if you have noticed, giant transnational corporations have likewise entered the education industry by creating their own education institutions and study programmes.

Regardless of its form, transnational education has a major impact on the students’ career prospects and international perspective. A TNE programme gives students the opportunity to enhance their career goals, professional skills, and awareness about international issues. When they graduate from the institution, they carry an advantage over other graduates because most employers prioritise TNE students. This can be attributed to the prestige of the education system and the multicultural experience of TNE graduates.

The future of transnational education in Singapore appears to be brighter, bolder, and bigger. Study programmes are bound to expand and more students are most likely to choose this learning approach. With the ultimate goal of delivering education services in the host country rather than students traveling abroad to study, transnational education will strongly remain borderless.


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