Over a decade ago, the World Conference on Higher Education called for the expansion of higher education globally because of the unprecedented demand for and [need for] a great diversification in higher education (UNESCO, 1998). Given increasingly global integration through economics, communications, politics, and transportation, educators and policy makers also have focused on the internationalization of higher education (Pickert, 1992). Since 1980s, there has been increasingly large amount of students studying abroad. The data from OECD (2004) showed that the number of international students across the world increased from 0.94 million in 1988 to 1.61 million in 1998 (a growth rate of approximately 70% in decade), and reached 1.9 million in 2002. Moreover, it is predicted that the number of international students will reach 7.2 million by 2025 (Bohm et al., 2002).
Transnational education is an increasingly important part of the forms of globalizing education (Hopbach, 2010a). It is not a new phenomenon, but the expansion of it is a new development (Rui, 2006). This trend has been especially fuelled by a recent international decline in government funding for higher education and thus the need for universities to become entrepreneurial (Rui, 2006).Within a framework of shrinking public funding for universities, competition for students and pressures for the internationalization of education (Dunn & Wallace, 2004), many developed counties, especially those of English speaking countries are developing and expanding the provision of offshore education.
Ziguras (2005) points out that Britain, Australia and America have been at the forefront of educational innovation, delivering programs through local partner organizations, such as private colleges, universities, and professional associations. Besides, the growth is especially strong at the higher degree level (IDP, 2002). For example, during 1996 to 1997, British offshore programs enrolled around 140,000 students, nearly as many international students as were studying in the UK at tertiary level in the same year (OECD, 2002). Australia had around 35,000 offshore students in 2001 (Ziguras, 2005). Moreover, such trend is set to continue. Nearly half of all international education activity for the UK and one-third for Australia is through offshore provision. More specifically, more than 400,000 students were enrolled in the UK institutions through transnational education. More than 100,000 students were enrolled in Australian institutions in the same way (Choudaha, 2012). And, the exact current data has been shown below by Ziguras (2011), in which UK had 408,685 offshore students around the world from 2009 to 2010, Australia had 149,711 offshore students. Although there is no data published of USA offshore students, which is the other large-scale provider, the two pioneering countries (UK and Australia) present a clear picture of the dramatically expansion of transnational education.
Offshore students of UK and Australia (2009-2010)
UK 408,685 2009-2010
Australia 149,711 2009-2010
Source: Ziguras (2011, p.1) with slight modification
1.2 Responses to transnational education for Asian countries
With the dramatically provision of transnational education by developed Western countries, the Asian governments are attempting to diversify their higher education systems and are trying to internationalize higher education in their countries (Mok, 2006). In the 1990s, the demand for transnational education in Asia was high, particularly in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China when these Asian economies attempted to increase higher education enrolments: the state capacity of these Asian states was in sufficient to provide the additional higher education opportunities (Ziguras, 2001).According to Huang (2003), 657 Chinese institutions had built up transnational programs of various forms with institutions from overseas by April 2002. In Malaysia, there were 497 transnational programs in a sample of 122 private institutions in 1997 (Lee, 1999). In Singapore, many private institutions offer degree programs run in cooperation with foreign universities (Rui, 2006). In the 1990s, there were about 120 non-local institutions operating about 74 transnational programs and close to 300 independent institutions in Hong Kong (Rui, 2006). Furthermore, According to the estimates of GATE (Global Alliance for Transnational Education) (2000), the demand for transnational higher education in Asian countries will rise to more than 480,000 students by 2020. In which, China has the largest number of transnational educational programs.
1.3 Chinese policy and regulation on transnational education
With the development of transnational education in China, Chinese government is also perfecting the relative regulations. Among them, two important documents have significantly affected the growth of transnational education in China--- the Interim Provisions for Chinese-Foreign Cooperation in Running Schools in 1995(Xinhua Net, 2001) and the Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Chinese-Foreign Cooperation in Running Schools in 2003 (CFCRS, 2003).
On the one hand, the 1995 document stipulated many restrictions on transnational higher education. Firstly, overseas higher education institutions could not provide programmes solely. Instead, they must cooperate with Chinese local higher education institutions. Secondly, foreign party could not run programmes involving compulsory education and 'those forms of education and training under special provisions by the state' (Xinhua Net, 2001, Chapter1, Article 4). Lastly, the transnational education in China should not be motivated mainly for profit (Xinhua Net, 2001).
Obviously, in contrast to other countries, such as Australia, UK and USA, which are mainly concerned with making profit by exporting higher education services, on China's side, the economic factor is not the major or sole incentive for offering such programs (Huang, 2006). Instead, Chinese government adopted transnational education as a policy tool for creating additional higher education learning opportunities for local students instead of taking transnational education as trade (Mok, 2008).
On the other hand, in the 2003 document, strong leadership by the Chinese side is once again stressed (Huang, 2006), including, for example, over half of the total number in the board of trustees, directors or managerial committee, the president with PRC nationality and no provision of a compulsory education and of special education services (CFCRS, 2003).
However, the 2003 document has something improved. It encourages local universities to cooperate with renowned overseas higher education institutions in launching new academic programmes in order to improve the quality of teaching and learning and to introduce excellent overseas educational resources to local institutions (CFCRS, 2003). More importantly, the 2003 document does not forbid overseas institutions from making profits for running courses in China. Just as Huang (2006, p.25) comments 'a transfer from the informal, incidental and Laissez-Fair phase prior to the more structured, systematic and well regulated phase after 1995'.
In short, no matter in terms of the policy or the practice, the Chinese government encourages the better development of transnational education, especially in the higher education area. However, excepting for a number of descriptive literature, there are not many empirical studies focus on transnational education. Although some studies research it from providers' views, these from transnational students' perceptions are few. As teaching and learning are mutual, transnational students' perceptions should take account. This study therefore attempts to explore students' perceptions to the transnational education from a 2+2 Accounting and Finance programme in Shanghai for addressing following questions:
â€¢ What are the strengths and weakness of this transnational education program?
â€¢ How can the transnational education program be further improved from students' perspectives?
Excepting the case study without generation, the findings are still very useful to the relative stakeholders, for example, to those who want to study this programmes, to president, managers, academics adjust management and teaching, and to policy makers to make more suitable policy and regulations regarding meeting with the same programme.(very useful for foreign academics and students to adjust and appreciate teaching and learning in the transnational education.)
This study firstly present the current literature of this field and relative theories, then the mixed research methods are shown. After that, the findings from interviews and questionnaire are categorized, analyzed and discussed in terms of advantages and disadvantages of this transnational education programme. Finally, the conclusion is presented with recommendations to improve this programme for the transnational students and foreign academics.