On-line and off-shore: making it a new export market

If internationals students can’t come to campuses here, providers can take courses to them – but only if they do a bunch of work first. A team from the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education sets out the opportunities and how to access them

The MCHE reports what they heard from 39 Australian trans-national education providers in a paper for the feds.*

There’s a mass of detail on how to establish a physical campus and why things can go wrong but in the present crisis the analysis of the on-line option will interest providers who fear international students will not soon return to Australia at scale.

The paper acknowledges the opportunity; “it has key benefits in terms of promoting Australia’s higher education sector and also allowing students in overseas partner countries to access high quality education without leaving their own country.

But it sets out what existing providers warn; “even when online courses were recognised, they were still perceived in-country by students and potential employers as being of lesser quality compared to courses delivered face-to-face. Consultees also drew attention to the challenge of implementing innovative pedagogies for wholly on-line courses, particularly when some trans-national education markets prefer a more traditional, classroom approach.

And it suggests a way-forward: “while there remain issues surrounding effective price points and adequate resourcing, online delivery of TNE still presents many opportunities. If effective pricing can be implemented at scale, it would allow students with more limited financial resources to access the Australian market. However, a balance needs to be struck between effective pricing and adequate student support if success is to be achieved. In this context, it has been suggested that micro-credentials … represent an opportunity for Australian on-line TNE providers.”

* Gwilym Croucher, Kristine Elliott, William Locke and Edward Yencken, Australia’s higher education delivery offshore and on-line – trends barriers and opportunities