BUiD Academics Publish Research on Transnational Education

Monday, February 26, 2018

This month, a special issue on the Management of Transnational Education was published by the International Journal of Educational Management, the top education management journal outside the United States. The issue was guest edited by Dr Stephen Wilkins, associate professor in the Faculty of Business & Law. No fewer than four BUiD faculty members published papers in the special issue.

Dr Katariina Juusola, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Business & Law, along with Lee Rensimer, published a paper that investigates how the branding practices of franchisees in the UAE employ discursive and symbolic strategies to build legitimacy. The authors conclude that the practices implemented by franchisees often decrease the institution’s legitimacy, rather than increasing it, and that ‘borrowing’ legitimacy from franchised programmes can prevent the franchisee from becoming a fully-fledged higher education institution. The findings suggest that in order to satisfy the expectations of their diverse stakeholders, franchisees need to go beyond symbolic assurances in their legitimacy-building and commit resources to making substantive changes to the institution’s goals, structures and processes.

Dr Christopher Hill, Director Doctoral Training Centre-Associate Professor, and Mr. Rawy Thabet, Academic Associate, both of the BUiD Faculty of Education, wrote a paper, which presents a critical evaluation of the evolution of one international branch campus over an eight-year period. As a piece of ethnographic research with a longitudinal research design, this study offers a unique insider’s view of the development of a branch campus. The authors found that the key areas of focus for managers clearly changed in the different stages of the campus’s evolution. The authors argue that institutions need to have clear goals and objectives, and that positive relationships between home and branch campuses must be developed. However, the authors warn against branch campuses attempting to fully replicate the home campus model, because contexts and regulations are different; expertise and capacity differ; and the opportunities available are different.


Finally, a paper by Dr Stephen Wilkins, coauthored with Troy Heffernan and Muhammad Mohsin Butt, adopts a student perspective to evaluate the importance of institutional reputation, student trust, and student-university identification in international partnerships. The authors conclude that when evaluating potential partners, decision-makers should consider the potential partner’s reputation and the extent to which students trust and identify with it.

Collectively, the articles in the special issue provide some unique and interesting insights into the management of transnational higher education. They make valuable contributions to the scholarly literature upon which other researchers may build. Some of the articles deliver ideas and insights that may help managers and institutions to do things better: better host country and partner selection; better relationships with partners; better marketing; better programme design and management; better relationships with students; and better performance from students.


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