news

Transnational programmes found 'lacking' in employability training

According to a recent study by the Higher Education Academy, UK universities are failing to offer employability training to students enrolled on transnational programmes as required by the quality assurance agency.

Students in UK transnational programmes are not receiving employability training required by the quality assurance agency Students in UK transnational programmes are not receiving employability training required by the quality assurance agency
04-06-2015 by Times Higher Education Supplement

UK universities are failing to offer employability training required by quality assurance to students enrolled on transnational programmes.

A recent study by the Higher Education Academy, says that activities such as team-working and leadership that are designed to help students develop transferable skills appear to be less widespread on overseas courses than they are on domestic equivalents.

According to the authors of the study, Robin Mellors-Bourne, Elspeth Jones and Steve Woodfield, of the 66 recent alumni of transnational programmes who were interviewed, more than half reported no experience of any learning element, activity or support that could be considered to enhance employability.

The report, titled 'Transnational Education and Employability Development', finds that employability support is most clearly aligned with domestic provision at international branch campuses.  However, this is “rarely visible” where UK qualifications are delivered by overseas partners.  

In these cases, the researchers found only “sporadic” instances of employability development being embedded into the curriculum. Furthermore, only a minority of alumni reported having been offered co-curricular support such as careers advice or help with CV writing.

According to the report, potential reasons for the differing levels of support in partnership arrangements may include local staff not having the same conceptualisation of employability development or the skills to deliver it.  Another reason is that institutions may be operating from premises that were physically “less conducive” to offering such activities. Furthermore, many students of transnational courses are already employed.  They therefore, may perceive less value in co-curricular or extracurricular support.

But there is a quality assurance requirement for institutions that provide transnational programmes to offer learning and development that is comparable to their UK courses.

The chief executive of the HEA, Stephanie Marshall, said that this extended to employability. She said: “Students need to be reassured that they are getting a comparable learning experience.”