Friday, February 5, 2021

Blend of Onshore, Offshore and Online to Save Ten Australian Universities at Risk

Gwilym Croucher,
University of Melbourne
Croucher, Elliott, Locke and Yencken (2020) define two types of Transnational Education (TNE): offshore campus-based and online. They are are cautiously optimistic about the future of Australian TNE, both in existing markets, particularly China, and new ones, such as Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

However,  I could find no mention of China's Belt and Road Education Plan, in the report. More recently with COVID-19 there is more emphasis on delivering courses online by China. This could prove attractive for students wanting a low cost education, which is aligned with the region's dominant economy.

Also, the authors don't mention a third form of TNE, a blended model using an onshore campus in Australia, plus online study in the student's nation. I suggest this could prove an attractive option for students and is, in effect, what many international students have been forced to do, due to COVID-19. It is also cost-effective and logistically easier for universities, as they do not have to maintain overseas campuses.

Australian universities already enhance their online courses through partnerships with universities in other countries. I saw this in action at the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT). This approach can be combined with the option of onshore study, so students undertake introductory studies online and at a campus of a local institution, and then travel to Australia for advanced studies.

James Guthrie,
Macquarie University
These options might form part of new business models for ten Australian universities which Guthrie et al. (2020) warn are at "high risk of financial default". The authors identify a "rapid expansion of onshore and offshore international students" as one factor threatening the viability of the universities, and the expanding Chinese higher education sector as a future risk. Their "probable" scenario, predicts onshore international students dropping 33.3% in 2021 due to COVID-19 and 60% by 2030 due to competition from China.


Gwilym Croucher, Kristine Elliott, William Locke and Edward Yencken (0 Mar 2020) Australia’s higher education delivery offshore and online – trends, barriers and opportunities, Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education. URL

James Guthrie, Martina K Linnenluecke, Ann Martin-Sardesai, Yun Shen, and Tom Smith (January 2020). On the resilience of Australian public universities: Why our institutions may fail unless Vice-Chancellors rethink broken business models, Macquarie University Business School working paper. URL

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