Document Details

Title TNE in China: What students should look for when selecting a programme
Author Xiaozhou (Emily) Zhou - Shanghai International Studies University, China


n China transnational higher education (TNE) has expanded rapidly over the past two decades, if slowing more recently. More than 500 local universities and around 450,000 students (1.4% of all university students in China) are involved in almost 2,000 TNE programmes (official statistics in 2013).

While this extraordinary development has brought abundant benefits to China, it has also led to significant problems and widespread discussion and controversy. With 9.42 million secondary school graduates taking the annual College Entrance Examination (in Chinese “Gao Kao”) this year, what type of students tend to select or prefer TNE programmes and what are the concerns about this particular style of education? This article provides a synthesis of the crucial issues around TNE in China with a focus on to what extent these issues might affect potential students’ choices.

It is tacitly understood that the majority of the TNE programmes are aimed at students who fail to be admitted by top-ranking Chinese universities. Wealthy parents who are reluctant to lose face when their children are refused by Tier 1 or Tier 2 local universities tend to consider it a safe alternative. Why are TNE programmes attractive to those students? It might be because there is a widespread perception in China that foreign education is “better”, regardless of the actual quality and reputation of the foreign universities. Choosing this path provides a “way out” – a choice that makes it extremely difficult to compare results with those of students enrolled in regular university programmes.

Receiving “native” education or completing part of a programme of study in target countries appears frequently in the promotional materials of TNE programmes. It certainly attracts potential students who are curious about a different educational style and who hope that a foreign degree certificate could help build a more competitive profile in their future job-hunting. TNE programmes provide students with an opportunity to gain a ‘foreign’ education without having to spend a fortune.

That is the theory, but what is the reality? There are a number of tensions.

Date 18/09/2015
Region(s) Asia
Countries China
Theme(s) Transnational Education (TNE) Models

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