New transnational education data tool

by John McNamara
Higher Education Institutions

Our new data tool allows for user-friendly access and analysis of the UK’s Transnational Education (TNE) provision, based on data from HESA’s Aggregate Offshore Record (login required). Modelled on our existing HESA data tool covering international students based in the UK, it contains data for each academic year from 2007/08 to 2021/22 and allows users to filter the data in several ways.

Analysis of total UK TNE provision shows that growth slowed notably during the four-year period from 2015/16 to 2018/19, but has since accelerated, up 13 per cent in 2020/21 and a further 9 per cent in 2021/22 – benefiting from reduced opportunities to study abroad during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tool makes it easy to analyse data at the individual country level, useful for identifying the UK’s main TNE markets (China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Egypt and Greece – in order of total enrolments) as well as identifying large markets exhibiting the most percentage growth over the past five years (Nepal, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, China, Cyprus and Germany respectively).

A novel feature of this new tool is the ability to analyse UK TNE provision at regional level. Figure 1 below illustrates the dominance of the East Asia region, but also the relatively strong growth of UK TNE in South Asia and the European Union. Also apparent is the absence of growth in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Figure 1. UK TNE enrolments by region, 2016/17 v 2021/22

Source – HESA Aggregate Offshore Record

The tool also allows data to be filtered by study level, with UK TNE at postgraduate level accounting for one third of total enrolments, a notably static share since records began. It also allows for a deeper dive into study level, including at certificate, diploma, bachelors, masters and PhD level, with the latter accounting for just over 1 per cent of total UK TNE enrolments in 2021/22.

Analysis by type of TNE activity (based on HESA classification, which is currently under review) shows that TNE delivered in partnership with local providers accounts for the largest, and growing, share of activity. Though TNE via branch campuses is significant in the Middle East & North Africa region and via distance learning is significant in individual markets such as Cyprus and Singapore.   

A student status filter shows that during the 2021/22 academic year, 65 per cent of the UK’s TNE student population were still enrolled on their programme as of the end of that academic year, whereas 22 per cent had successfully completed their course during that year. The balance is accounted for by students who dropped out (4 per cent) or were otherwise not specified (9 per cent, covering students enrolled with universities in Scotland and Northern Ireland whose data is not broken down by this category).

The tool allows users to filter by multiple categories simultaneously – showing, for example, differences in the breakdown between undergraduate and postgraduate students across different modes of study in a particular country.

Analysis of TNE by institution type shows that Russell Group institutions accounted for one quarter of TNE enrolments in 2021/22, a stable proportion over the past decade.

Finally, the tool allows users to drill down to TNE provision by individual institutions, with four UK universities accounting for one quarter of all UK TNE provision in 2021/22. Wondering which ones… check out the tool to find out.

To access the TNE Student Data Tool, look under HESA Data Tools on the navigation bar above (login required). As the data in the tool is based on HESA’s Aggregate Offshore Record, access is limited to UK higher education institutions who submit data to HESA. Historical data has also been adjusted to exclude students registered with Oxford Brookes University via partners in the 2018/19 academic year and earlier, to make this data more compatible with changes made to data definitions in 2019/20 and subsequent years.

About the Author

John McNamara
Education Insights Global Team - Global Research Manager

John manages the delivery of research projects and country briefing reports for UK education institutions, providing them with the insights and market intelligence to succeed globally.

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