CRAC report highlights growth and value of transnational education (TNE)


New research by CRAC for the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills reveals new insights into the extent, range and value of higher education programmes that are delivered overseas through TNE (transnational education).

Key findings:

  • A total TNE revenue figure for the UK for 2012/13 has been estimated as £496 million, significantly higher than in previous estimates. This reflects growth in TNE provision since those studies but also the more detailed nature of this research, which was based on a census and detailed case study work. TNE represents around 11% of total international higher education fee revenues to the UK.
  • There were over 325,000 active students in 2012/13 on UK TNE programmes. The proportion of total TNE activity and revenue delivered through distance learning exceeds that through partnership arrangements. 70% of TNE enrolments are at undergraduate level but much of recent growth has been in postgraduate taught activity which delivers higher revenue per student.
  • Courses in business, finance and management accounted for nearly half of all active TNE enrolments. Masters programmes in this subject area represented 56% of all TNE revenues, and MBA programmes alone £186 million.
  • Growth in TNE is likely to continue on the basis of reported intentions by UK institutions, many of which are keen to increase their activities.
  • CRAC is shortly to complete linked research into the wider benefits and impact of TNE activity to the UK (other than direct financial value).

Universities, Science and Cities Minister Greg Clark commented:

"There is a growing demand for higher education globally, and the UK is ideally placed to help meet this demand. This report shows that the UK is already playing a key role in transnational education, but there is more that we can do.”

Project leader Robin Mellors-Bourne (CRAC’s Research Director) said:

“Our detailed work demonstrates a greater variety and value of TNE activity by UK HE institutions than previously realised”. He added “Few institutions are yet in a position to understand fully the extent to which their TNE activities are profitable or not. Expansion of these enterprising activities has outstripped the sector’s ability to record their extent systematically or to assess their true net value.”  

Read the Times Higher Education Magazine article about the report.