ERG SES D 08, Quality and Education
Over the last three decades, transnational higher education has made remarkable achievements globally in various forms including twinning, franchising, distance learning, joint degrees, and international branch campuses (Knight 2016). Among them, the establishment of international branch campuses have accounted for most of the growth (Wilkins & Huisman 2012). Today, sixty nine international branch campuses have been set up in China (Chinese Ministry of Education, 2016), making the country the top host of international branch campuses in the world. Significantly, these newly-emerging international branch campuses have become an important part of China’s higher education, providing students with an opportunity to experience foreign education without the necessity of going abroad.
To ensure a product, namely education, of a suitable standard, there has been much focus on quality assurance from policy-makers and higher education managers of these fast growing branch campuses. Many international branch campuses in China have developed their own quality assurance whilst others have systems already in place from their host campus’. However, managing quality assurance in international branch campus has proved extremely challenging. The fundamental reason for this is that quality assurance in transnational higher education involves a variety of stakeholders from both sides of the partnership: foreign and local staff, host and home country quality regulators, and the host and home education partners. These multi-national interpretations of what ‘quality’ means and how to assure it vary depending on their personal experiences, backgrounds and resulting beliefs. The challenge lies in how to balance and integrate the competing interests and needs of the different stakeholders in the actual implementation of quality assurance.
This study is concerned with quality assurance in a Sino-UK branch campus. The research objective of this study is to understand different stakeholders’ perceptions and views on the current quality assurance mechanisms. Accordingly, the main research question is:
How do different stakeholders interpret and respond to the current quality assurance mechanisms in a Sino-UK branch campus?
The study is guided by a stakeholder approach which categorizes stakeholders into four groups: university senior managers such as Deans, Head of School; middle-level managers such as Programme Leaders, Directors of China-UK partnership; Quality assurance officers; Professional Development Trainer; teaching academics and undergraduate students who study in the Sino-UK branch campus. The stakeholder approach has been advocated by many scholars (e.g. (Srikanthan & Dalrymple 2003; Cheng & Tam 1997; Houston 2008) because it allows different collaborators in the project to have a voice in the complex quality assurance system. The research will provide insights into improving the effectiveness and efficiency of quality assurance management by understanding the interests and needs of different stakeholders within this very complex system.
Cheng, Y.C. & Tam, W.M., 1997. Multi-models of quality in education. Quality Assurance in Education, 5(1), pp.22–31. Chinese Ministry of Education, 2016. The list of Chinese-foreign cooperative institutions and programmes at the undergraduate level. http://www.crs.jsj.edu.cn/index.php/default/index Houston, D., 2008. Rethinking quality and improvement in higher education. Quality Assurance in Education, 16(1), pp.61–79. Knight, J., 2016. Transnational Education Remodeled: Toward a Common TNE Framework and Definitions. Journal of Studies in International Education, 20(1), pp.1–14. Available at: http://jsi.sagepub.com/cgi/doi/10.1177/1028315315602927. Srikanthan, G. & Dalrymple, J., 2003. Developing alternative perspectives for quality in higher education. International Journal of Educational Management, 17(3), pp.126–136. Yin R. 2003. Case study research: design and methods. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Wilkins, S. & Huisman, J., 2012. The international branch campus as transnational strategy in higher education. Higher Education, 64(5), pp.627–645.
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