Britain promotes transnational education in Asia


London : The British government has approved college-level partnerships to export premium educational courses abroad, with the first such course to be taught in a Chinese college with students from China, India and Africa.

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The 40-week course on ophthalmic dispensing is to begin next September at the Beijing Business College in China with 20 Chinese students and 10 each from India and Africa.

The qualification they take, the BTec national diploma, will be a British one, the teachers will be British, and the medium of instruction will be English. It will be financed, planned, and delivered by City and Islington college in London, whose optics courses have an international reputation for excellence.

Eighteen London colleges are developing partnerships with several colleges in China and course details are being finalised. Apart from China, Turkey and countries in west Africa targets for transnational teaching of British courses.

The government has drawn up a strategy in consultation with colleges and training providers which has been launched Monday as part of an International Education Week to focus on educational partnerships.

This is a step forward from previous British initiatives for funding education, research and teaching skills in developing countries. Prime among them are the Prime Minister’s Initiative of 1999 and the UK-India Education and Research Initiative of 2005.

Katie Epstein, director of vocational education and training at the British Council, told The Guardian: “It is a changing culture, moving on from recruiting students from around the world to actually building partnerships with other colleges in other countries. Overseas students bring a lot of income to a college. It is a big market. But now colleges are developing a broader global outlook, aiming to provide a global experience for their staff and students.”

Trevor Hunter, applied optics curriculum manager at the City and Islington College, said: “If the model works I don’t see why it cannot be rolled out to other cities in China and to other countries. It could also work for other courses we offer such as forensics and sports science.”

The British foray into translational education is intended to encourage in-country provisions for imparting British education in developing countries. Foreign students can get British diplomas and degrees without having to study in Britain at great expense.

British teaching staff conducting courses abroad benefit too. Diane Mullen, international partnerships adviser for the Association of Colleges, said: “Staff benefit from overseas placements and are broadening their horizons and bringing the benefits of that back when they are designing assignments.”