Exporting Higher Education: Speaking From Experience
I am employed as a Transnational Education Administrator. My actual title is, "Director of International Programs for University Extension," and I oversee operations in Singapore, Hong Kong, and mainland China.
I have presented at large Educational Expos; spoken to students and advising staff in high schools, junior colleges and polytechnics. I have seen the Australian model in action; I have spoken to students and faculty. Very few US universities are active in Singapore, and those which are operating on any basis are attempting to utilize Mode 1 almost without exception. Predictably, their sign-up rates range from disappointingly low to non-existent.
A closer look at the market helps explain why this is so. The vital career asset in most Asian countries is a bachelors degree; advanced degrees are useful, but a BA or a BS is a far more distinguishing feature there than it is in the US. Thus, undergraduate degree programs can be expected to generate the greatest market response. A large part, but not all, of this market is comprised of young people roughly between the ages of 17-21. These are the students who have the greatest need for close supervision and direction, and whose parents, helping to pay the tuition, want their children in a traditional classroom and off the streets.
Any Transnational program aimed at the heart of the market must take these expectations into account. Mode 1(Consumption Abroad), with its obvious economies of scale, is much more attractive to the educational service provider – but not necessarily to the students (and their parents). One Mode 3 (Commercial Presence) solution has been the "Franchising" approach described earlier – let a local organization provide the direct classroom instruction utilizing a syllabus and lesson plans specified by the degree granting institution, which provides the exams and grades them. Due to the lack of direct contact with faculty, US universities have not embraced this approach, while universities throughout Australia and the UK have. For the next few days, I will be describing a teaching model which attempts to balance economic advantages, cultural realities – and US standards for post-secondary education.