Managing quality and student experience in transnational education partnerships: a reflective and prospective model Vangelis Tsiligiris College Principal MBS College of Crete, Greece twitter @tsiligiris The quality conundrum Students Universities Changing expectations Increased competition Told to “shop around” for best value for their money Emergence of non-traditional players Influence from high unemployment to higher demands for employability Rankings and indicators as means to differentiate Corporatisation Current quality discourse in higher education Quality concept Quality Management Policy Flux of definitions and models for quality management Primarily focusing on risk-mitigation Failure to take a realistic stance in the debate “student as customer” and quality as “top-down” Overconcentration on student satisfaction Students framed as customers Reactive rather than proactive What is wrong with quality management in higher education ? • Service quality is seen as important but not linked to educational quality Two extreme poles in this: – Student satisfaction is critical in a “value for money” world – Students should inevitably suffer in the journey to knowledge so student satisfaction is irrelevant • Retrospective approach (Biggs, 2001) in managing final outcomes – Over-reliance on student satisfaction surveys – The relationships between dimensions assumed as static – Ignore student characteristics we seek to react on issues that concern a previous cohort and reinforce solutions/actions on a different cohort that may have different problems “The Student Experience” Service and educational quality are closely linked Student factors i.e. prior knowledge, abilities, motivation Learning -focused activities Learning Outcomes i.e. deep vs. surface learning Quantitative & Qualitative Teaching context Objectives, assessment, climate, ethos, teaching approaches Student expectations Service quality Student Perceptions about “student experience” Transnational Education • Of growing importance for exporting countries • Legitimised as “an alternative to international student mobility” (?) • Conflicting views of the role of TNE that impact quality management – Risk, risk, risk – The same or equal ? – An element or internationalisation or globalisation Current approach in TNE quality management Dominance of quality assurance policies of exporting countries TNE is seen as a high-risk activity by exporting countries Quality assurance as risk mitigation Quality management X approach Focus on equivalency (sameness) rather than enhancement Ramifications of the current approach in TNE quality management Student factors and expectations are ignored or assumed to be the same across different locations of delivery Student perceptions about quality in higher education, both as term and as set of desired outcomes, are ignored or assumed to be the same across different locations of delivery Student factors i.e. prior knowledge, abilities, motivation Learning -focused activities Teaching context i.e. deep vs. surface learning Learning Outcomes Quantitative & Qualitative Objectives, assessment, climate, ethos, teaching approaches Student expectations Service quality Student Perceptions about “student experience” The problematic nature of current approach in TNE quality management • Considering the important role of student factors, expectations, and perceptions for both educational and service quality outcomes, can we afford to assume them as static or irrelevant? • The replication of a retrospective “home” quality management approach is really minimizing risk in TNE ? Student factors in TNE • Student expectations and perceptions vary considerably across different countries • Factors that affect student expectations and perceptions: – Previous educational experience – Culture – Parents, family and other social networks – The state of the domestic higher education system – Contribution in the payment of fees – Size of education institution they attend Student factors in TNE • “Student as customer” identity penetrates national borders and appears to affect student expectations and perceptions across different countries • However, students appear to be “immature customers” – Highly instrumental in their expectations and perception of the educational process – Focus on the “end product” and less on the “journey”. Current Student Experience in TNE Almost 90% of [TNE] students interviewed by the British Council indicated that student experience is the area where improvement should be considered. “The TNE student is a new type of student and the home institution need to not only understand their expectation in the context of the student body but also to capitalised on them to create a new diverse learning community. Home institutions need go beyond the replica model.” (Shepherd, 2013) Challenges for quality management in TNE • How to deal with different student expectations and perceptions? • How to respond to the universal trend of the emerging identity of “student as customer”, by achieving an optimal balance between educational and service quality maximization? • How to move beyond the replica model but maintain control over risk? A prospective and reflective model Explore contextual factors that affect and shape student expectations, and perceptions A shift of focus from the end to the beginning of the educational process Plan actions to manage student expectations, and perceptions so that are re-aligned to those required to achieve the desired educational and service quality standards Prospective / Reflective approach Understand the context Plan and implement proactive management actions Understand the student Explore and understand student expectations, and perceptions An example During the planning/ pre-launch and delivery Explore the education system in the importing country Identify student factors Plan actions to re-adjust student expectations/perceptions 1. Pre-induction 2. On-going induction 3. A re-adjustment semester /year Prospective quality management Explore contextual factors Contextualise delivery/learning context 1. 2. 3. Programme content Tweak assessment Explore language issues Achieve educational and service quality outcomes Student factors i.e. prior knowledge, abilities, motivation Teaching context Learning -focused activities i.e. deep vs. surface learning Learning Outcomes Quantitative & Qualitative Objectives, assessment, climate, ethos, teaching approaches Student expectations Service quality Student Perceptions about “student experience” References Biggs, J. (2001). The reflective institution: Assuring and enhancing the quality of teaching and learning. Higher Education. 41 (3). p.pp. 221–238. Biggs, J. & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university. Open University press. Bodycott, P. & Lai, A. (2012). The Influence and Implications of Chinese Culture in the Decision to Undertake Cross-Border Higher Education. Journal of Studies in International Education. 16 (3). p.pp. 252–270. Chapman, A., Pyvis, D., Chapman, A. & Pyvis, D. (2013). Enhancing quality in transnational higher education: experiences of teaching and learning in Australian offshore programs. Hoare, L. (2012). Transnational Student Voices Reflections on a Second Chance. Journal of Studies in International Education. 16 (3). p.pp. 271–286. Shepherd, E. (2013). Transnational Education: The student experience. In: Going Global 2013. 6 March 2013, Dubai: British Council, Education Intelligence. Smith, K. (2010). Assuring quality in transnational higher education: a matter of collaboration or control? Studies in Higher Education. 35 (7). p.pp. 793–806. Waters, J. & Leung, M. (2013). A Colourful University Life? Transnational Higher Education and the Spatial Dimensions of Institutional Social Capital in Hong Kong. Population, Space and Place. 19 (2). p.pp. 155– 167.