Strengthening institutional management of transnational higher education: Implications derived from a thematic analysis of the Cycle 2 audit reports of the Australian Universities Quality Agency



Stafford, Sally
(2015) Strengthening institutional management of transnational higher education: Implications derived from a thematic analysis of the Cycle 2 audit reports of the Australian Universities Quality Agency. Doctor of Education thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Abstract

Transnational higher education (TNE) involves the offering overseas of ‘home university’ award courses by, or with, overseas partners, or directly through an overseas branch of the university. TNE is growing in significance in the context of the internationalisation of higher education and the increasing mobility of information and people in a more globalised world. TNE has become an important and distinctive avenue of access for many students. However, TNE is a complex and demanding activity for institutional managers. The context for the study is the relative paucity of research on the management of TNE, compared with the teaching-learning area, coupled with my own professional interest in understanding and improving TNE management. The study involved a thematic analysis of documentary sources in the form of institutional audit reports by the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA). The specific objectives were to identify and analyse the patterns and themes in AUQA’s concerns and commendations, in order to draw out the implications for improving the development and management of TNE. Finally, using a strategic management perspective, the main challenges confronting senior institutional managers in TNE initiatives were examined. A total of 204 concerns and 31 commendations were identified by a systematic review of TNE management in 27 university audit reports. The concerns and commendations were categorised using a structured, 6-dimensional analytical framework to produce a comprehensive overview of management issues in TNE. Almost half the concerns and commendations related to institutional strategy and management, with significant numbers also relating to governance and quality assurance. In relation to the 235 concerns and commendations, 21 themes, or areas of recurring concern, were identified. Major themes included weaknesses in academic and corporate governance processes, alignment of TNE initiatives with overall university strategy, and senior management oversight. For each theme, implications for improving management practice were developed by drawing on relevant literature and my own professional experience. Adopting a strategic management perspective suggested that the 21 themes could be grouped meaningfully into 3 clusters relating to: Integrating the TNE venture into institutional structure and processes; Determining the nature and form of the TNE partnership and associated contract; and Managing and sustaining the TNE initiative. A model was developed to illustrate the interrelationship between the 3 clusters and the role of strategic leadership. The study contributes to developing a deeper and more systematic understanding of the nature of TNE and the sources for concerns that arise from its inherent complexity and risk. The study also extends the broad knowledge base for consultants, institutional managers, practising academics and quality assurance and accreditation agencies in Australia and other countries. Finally, the study contributes to strengthening my own professional knowledge and practice as a consultant to Australian and overseas universities and private higher education institutions who are developing TNE programs.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Education)
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Fac of Humanities & Social Sci > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2016 10:07
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2016 10:07
URI: http://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/2043939
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