Clearer policies needed for transnational education – Report

While the overall operating environment for transnational education (TNE) in Egypt is “positive and enabling”, there are key differences between formal policies, procedures and regulations governing TNE and what must be undertaken in practice.

This is one of the main messages that emerged from a British Council report titled Transnational Education in Egypt: Operating environment, delivery models and partnership opportunities, published recently.

The report notes that “the broader vision is to ensure opportunities for all Egyptians to access higher education, and even turn Egypt into a hub for international education, drawing on recruitment opportunities in the wider Sub-Saharan and Middle Eastern regions”.

To achieve this, Egypt is introducing “new categories of domestic universities, such as the ‘national’ and ‘technological’ universities, and, second, to engage and encourage foreign universities to set up TNE in Egypt, with a preference for international branch campuses (IBCs)”.

As such, the Egyptian government dedicated most of its efforts in the past four years to raising foreign university interest to set up IBCs, according to the report. “Other forms of TNE, such as joint-dual degrees, or validation-franchise models, continue to operate in Egypt but have not received distinct legislative or regulatory attention in the past few years.”

Stakeholder partnerships opportunities

Opportunities to work with local partners on different types of TNE vary, depending on the type of partner, according to the report. IBCs are typically established in cooperation with local private investors that finance the IBC’s infrastructure and its operating costs, while the overseas university partner is responsible for academic provision.

Public universities are keen to set up or expand joint- or dual-degree cooperation, while national universities (a type of non-profit institution that is partly funded by the state and partly by tuition fees) are interested in partnerships that can facilitate Egyptian student progression to the United Kingdom (UK). Private universities are keen to internationalise and are interested in a variety of TNE models, including franchise and validation agreements.

“Finally, technological universities [a relatively new form of publicly funded institution] present comparatively lower cooperation opportunities overall but may have some potential in TVET-related courses,” the report notes.

“There are specific laws and requirements on establishing IBCs, but there are also unwritten expectations surrounding the involvement of local investors and consultants as well as around the business and-or legal partnerships that universities must set up to create IBCs,” according to the report. It also refers to a lack of visibility to and knowledge of key stakeholders.

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