The World According to GATS
GATS is not just concerned with education -- it applies to ALL service sectors (OK, all except air traffic controlling) -- from banking and telecommunications to health and recreation. For all of these disparate areas, four methods of service delivery are defined. In GATS-speak, these are known as the Modes of Supply. It is actually quite an accomplishment when you think about it, determining four common denominators that transcend and fully describe the ways all commercial services are delivered.
Mode 1 Cross Border Supply In this mode, the service crosses national borders, not the service provider. In the context of Higher Education, this refers to traditional "distance ed" of the independent study variety, such as correspondence-based or television and radio-based study. It also refers to most forms of e-learning employed by virtual universities. Thus, by definition, Mode 1 in the Higher Education sector is an example of Transnational Ed.
Mode 2 Consumption Abroad This mode is by far the largest category of trade in Higher Education services, consisting primarily of students from one country who travel to study in another. NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, claims that over 500,000 foreign students in the U.S. during academic year 2001-2002 were worth at least $11.9 billion to the economy. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conservatively estimates the worldwide Mode 2 market at over $30 billion. That is a significant amount of money, and Mode 2 is by far the most heavily utilized and best researched form of Higher Education service delivery today. Nevertheless, Mode 2 is not a Transnational Ed mode. It is a form of trade of Higher Education services, but it is an export delivered locally.
Mode 3 Commercial Presence This is my personal favorite, an emerging giant which I predict will overtake Mode 2 within 5-10 years. An actual facility for delivering services is established in a country other than the main campus location, and the degree granting institution either owns the facility or has some form of partnership regarding its use. Although stated in business terms, the need or desire to offer a more robust pedagogy than is possible under Mode 2 is what leads to Mode 3. Without a commercial presence, the teaching model could not realistically include non-mediated interaction with instructors or fellow students.
Mode 3 is Transnational Ed, and can also incorporate Mode 2. That is, a Mode 3 provider based in the U.S. could have a branch campus in China, and deliver real-time video lectures originating from the main campus (Mode 2) to students at the branch campus. Not surprisingly, a categorization based on commerce fails to capture more complex and blended teaching methods.
Mode 4 Presence of Natural Persons This is not a Transnational Ed category, as it refers to individuals travelling to another country to provide services. It is, however, an extremely important category in the Education sector, as projected national teacher shortages will have to lead to some amount of professional migration in the coming years. According to World Education News and Reviews, the Chinese Ministry of Education claims China will have to recruit approximately 110,000 university professors by 2005. That's a lot of credentialed natural persons.
And that is that -- the four ways in which services can be delivered. WTO member nations are being asked to make commitments which will open the different education markets (Primary, Secondary, Higher, Adult, Other) within their borders in precisely these terms.