Do's and Don'ts in Transnational Education (TNE) Assessment

Transnational Education (TNE) has become commonplace in credential evaluation.  Educational programs and services are being offered in a variety of modalities where the learners of the programs are “located in a country different from the one where the awarding institution is based” (UNESCO/Council of Europe Code of Good Practice in the Provision of Transnational Education).  These can include:

  • Dual degree programs

  • Study abroad courses

  • Franchising models

  • Branch campus study

  • Validated programs

  • Designated overseas training centers

Overall, we are looking at the accreditation components between the degree-granting institution and the teaching institution and how those pieces fit together.

China and TNE

One country with substantial transnational involvement is China.  China has a clear system of regulatory bodies and approved transnational programs and institutions that are allowed to operate in their country.  Specifically, the Ministry of Education in China has a division that includes a database on their website of Chinese-Foreign Cooperation in Running Schools.   This database includes:

  • Approved Sino-Foreign joint institutions and programs

  • Approved cooperative institutions and programs

  • Those that were formerly approved

  • Those that are no longer operational.

This database should be a primary resource in the toolbox of anyone in international higher education, whether you are a credential evaluator looking for accreditation information, or a university representative looking to create new Chinese institution/program partnerships.

A few Do's and Don’ts to consider with TNE programs:

 Identify recognition and level of prospective partner institution
 Solely rely on information provided by prospective partner institution or program
Identify admission requirements – Do they match those of regularly recognized programs at the same institution?
 Assume that prospective partners with existing US partnerships don’t need vetting
✔ Identify if the credit from the program would transfer within institutions/domestically
 Assume that legal operation guarantees academic recognition

Assume that institutional academic recognition guarantees recognition of all programs at that institution

With a little bit of digging, one should be able to identify and answer these above questions and considerations about institutional partnerships and TNE programs. 

Repercussions for students and institutions

For the benefit of everyone involved, it is a good idea to research and question any partnerships or TNE programs. Repercussions of not researching these relationships can affect both students and institutions.  For students, it could involve possible future transfer issues, academic advancement issues, employment issues, academic preparedness or success, and loss of time and money. For institutions, it could negatively affect recognition/accreditation, reputation, enrollment, quality of education, student experience and integration, and faculty/staff workload.

Ultimately, TNE programs will continue to become more and more popular as students and institutions look for alternative means for education throughout the world. Our job is to ensure that proper recognition is given to those programs that have done their due diligence to create lasting, trusted, and accredited partnerships.

This article was adapted from the poster session "Vetting Overseas Partner Institutions in Transnational Education" given at the NAFASA 2017 Annual Conference & Expo

Amy M. Ullrich has been an Evaluator at ECE since 2008. She specializes in refugee/partial documentation, transnational programs. Country specializations include Europe & Eurasia, Central & South Asia, the Middle East & North African Francophone countries, as well as U.S.-based education systems.

Katerina Roskina is Owner and Senior Evaluator of China Credential Services.



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