Exporting Higher Education: So What Exactly is Transnational Ed?
Together, GATS modes 1 and 3 comprise an alternative to Consumption Abroad now known as Transnational Education. This growing phenomenon is defined by UNESCO-CEPES as:
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.
Characterized in this way, Transnational Education challenges the supremecy of the campus. It suggests that there can be viable non-campus service delivery models.
While Americans tend to have a hard time imagining a real degree program without any on-campus attendance, the concept is not at all difficult for the rest of the world. In most countries, particularly Asian countries, the supply of public higher education has not been able to keep up with the demand during the recent decades of high economic growth. South-East Asian countries have invested in their own tertiary education infrastructure, but they have also been forced to rely on foreign providers.
From the Asian perspective, Consumption Abroad as an import is both costly and risky. Currency and students leave the country, and sometimes neither comes back. Technical and managerial skills acquired through advanced training are essential for participation in the high tech/high return global economy. But the "brain drain" as well as the sheer expense of travel and tuition is a high price to pay. Transnational Education is timely, for Asia. Just when economies are cooling off and travel is becoming more restrictive, there may be another option for post-secondary education with a foreign flavor.