Workshop hones in on transnational education in Armenia and Georgia

27 September 2015

Armenian and Georgian higher education officials attended a workshop at IIEP in Paris on 21 and 22 September on the accreditation of transnational higher education.

Transnational education (TNE) has become a growing phenomenon in many countries worldwide amid the increased internationalization of higher education. While this poses new challenges to the regulation and quality assurance of higher education providers, national governments should be concerned whether TNE options offered in their countries are of good quality, local relevance as well as sensitive to national customs and culture.

To help enhance the understanding of the importance of quality provision in cross-border higher education, UNESCO and the OECD adopted the Guidelines for quality provision in cross-border higher education in 2005 and put forward a multi-stakeholder framework for action. 

Transnational education on the rise

In both Armenia and Georgia, intergovernmental universities, branch campuses or joint/double degree or franchise higher education programmes are developing rapidly. In Armenia, 15 % of students are currently enrolled in TNE and in Georgia, the number of transnational programmes are quickly growing.

IIEP, together with 18 other organizations, is a partner in the 3-year TEMPUS project called “Promoting Quality and Recognition of transnational higher education in Armenia and Georgia”.

The other partners are public and private universities from Armenia, Georgia, France, Germany and the UK, quality assurance bodies - ANQA from Armenia and NCEQE from Georgia - and Ministries of education from both Armenia and Georgia as well as the British quality assurance agency (QAA) and the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). The French University in Armenia (UFAR) – a TNE university itself – coordinates the project.

The TEMPUS project has two main objectives:

  • Create a methodology for the accreditation of transnational higher education providers in Armenia and Georgia. Participants decided to take the UNESCO/OECD Guidelines as the basis for the development of this methodology.
  • Develop structures for internal quality assurance in the Armenian and Georgian universities. The methodology will be tested in 2016 with pilot accreditation to be organized in both countries.

IIEP, together with the British QAA, was the lead organization for Work Package (WP) 1 whose objective was capacity development among the partners in quality assurance.  The workshop in Paris was organized under the responsibility of the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), which is in charge of WP2.

The objective was to discuss thresholds and evidences for indicators that were developed for the accreditation methodology in an earlier workshop, held in Batumi, Georgia, in July 2015.

A model for the future

A discussion also took place on how the two quality assurance agencies from Armenia and Georgia would use the methodology developed under the project.

The discussions showed that QA agencies in both countries are already considering the integration of criteria and related indicators derived from the UNESCO/OECD Guidelines in their regular accreditation procedures, so that they will be able to cover the TNE provision.

The methodology to be developed can thus serve as a model for other countries wanting to quality assure cross-border higher education.