October 2014 | ISSUE 14
Quality assurance and transnational education
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By Dr Eleanor Sheppard
Collaboration Officer (Governance and Educational Quality)

During the academic year of 2012-2013, nearly 600,000 students were studying for a UK degree outside of the UK. That’s more than the number of international students studying in the UK! With more than 50,000 students enrolled on a UK transnational education programme, Singapore is one of the largest host countries, second only to Malaysia.

It is no wonder then that translational education, that is higher education where the teacher, student, programme, provider or course materials crosses national borders, is high on the agenda of UK governmental departments and universities.

In June 2014, the UK Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) published the results of a sector-wide UK consultation on Strengthening the quality assurance of UK transnational education and will shortly be publishing new guidelines on the quality assurance of joint degrees, such as the LKCMedicine MBBS. 

LKCMedicine’s joint MBBS has to meet the quality requirements of not only its parent institutions, NTU and Imperial, but also the QAA, Singapore’s Ministry of Education and the Singapore Medical Council. With so many requirements to comply with, the London and Singapore teams have been working together closely to develop and implement quality assurance mechanisms for the MBBS programme.

Imperial’s responsibility is to provide advice and guidance on the quality management of the joint MBBS and share best practices with LKCMedicine.

Since joining the London Office of LKCMedicine to support governance and educational quality, I’ve been working with the team in Singapore to ensure that our quality processes are followed and updated as necessary to reflect policy changes at Imperial and NTU.

Once the new QAA guidelines are out, the London Office will study them for implications for the collaboration. Together with the Singapore team, we will ensure that any new requirements or recommendations from the QAA are quickly incorporated into our quality policies and procedures, to ensure that the MBBS programme remains compliant.

In preparation, the London Office has looked at the outcomes of several QAA reviews of UK overseas educational provisions, including a 2011 review of programmes delivered in Singapore, and we are pleased to note that LKCMedicine already meets the QAA’s recommendations for good practice in many of the key areas identified. We also hope that some of the processes that we have put in place will be considered novel good practice for other UK transnational education programmes.

One of the things I have observed since starting at the London Office of LKCMedicine is how proud Imperial is of this collaboration, and I am pleased to be involved in developing strong quality assurance policies to underpin such an innovative curriculum.