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Credentialism and the role of transnational education in ‘building’ sustainable cities Johanna L.

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Presentation on theme: "Credentialism and the role of transnational education in ‘building’ sustainable cities Johanna L."— Presentation transcript:

1 Credentialism and the role of transnational education in ‘building’ sustainable cities Johanna L. Waters @johannalwaters DSA, 2014

2 How sustainable – and desirable – is the expansion of TNE as a means of creating an ‘educated workforce’ within global cities? Does it create more problems than it solves?

3 Some context Non-local degree programmes (or TNE) have proliferated in HK over past 10 years. 8 domestic universities – 18% entry. Government sought HE for 60%. Growth of community or CE colleges and new Associate Degree. Extremely low ‘articulation rate’.

4 Social context Credentialism and the social expectations attached to HE. – ‘Long time ago, having a degree would look superior, but now, I think it has changed...If you do not have a degree, it seems that you cannot quite ‘raise your head’, feeling inferior. Having a degree is to show people that I am normal.’ (Nicolas Tse, graduated with a UK university degree in 2007, Hong Kong) Potential idealism around the role played by CE in society. Education is inherently a good thing.

5 Relationship between CE and TNE


7 UK HEIs offering degree programmes in Hong Kong (according to the British Council) Birmingham City University; Coventry University; De Montfort University; Edinburgh Napier University; Glyndwr University; Heriot-Watt University; Kingston University; Lancaster University; Leeds Metropolitan University; Liverpool John Moores University; Manchester Metropolitan University; Middlesex University; Northumbria University; Nottingham Trent University; Oxford Brookes University; Sheffield Hallam University; Staffordshire University; Swansea Metropolitan University; Thames Valley University; University of Bath; University of Bedfordshire; University of Birmingham; University of Bolton; University of Bradford; University of Bristol; University of Central Lancashire; University of Derby; University of Durham; University of East London; University of Glamorgan; University of Greenwich; University of Huddersfield; University of Hull; University of Leicester; University of London; University of Manchester; University of Northampton; University of Plymouth; University of Portsmouth; University of Stirling; University of Strathclyde; University of Sunderland; University of Surrey; University of Teeside; University of Wales Institute; University of Wales Newport; University of Warwick; University of Wolverhampton.

8 Characteristics of UK degrees in Hong Kong: They offer Undergraduate (i.e. ‘top-up’) -, Master- and Doctoral-level degrees; Mix of full-time and part-time students; Have developed as part of the expansion of ‘continuing education’ in Hong Kong (the ‘democratisation’ of access to HE), particularly over the last 15 years. British universities frequently link up with continuing education arms of local (Hong Kong) HEIs;

9 Figures for 2013 532 degree courses run by 36 different UK HEIs in Hong Kong; Approx 78% of TNE in Hong Kong (offered in conjunction with a local HEI) is British; Australia is the next biggest provider (around 22%). (Hong Kong Education Bureau, Dec. 2012)


11 Overview of project Funded jointly by the ESRC (UK) and the RGC (Hong Kong). Led by Johanna Waters in the UK and Maggi Leung in Hong Kong. Qualitative study of ‘non-local’ degrees offered by UK HEIs in Hong Kong. Sample includes : 70 interviews with current students and recent graduates (40/30); 18 interviews with UK ‘providers’; 9 interviews with ‘recruiters’ in Hong Kong. Most interviews with students/graduates conducted in Cantonese and translated into English; interviews with providers conducted in English; interviews with recruiters conducted in English or Cantonese (their preference). All names of individuals, universities and courses have been changed.

12 Some findings: For many individuals, a UK education offers the only way of obtaining a university degree; Students on ‘non-local’ degrees often suffer from a lack of recognition; Obtaining a ‘British’ degree without ever having been to Britain has proved problematic for some graduates.;

13 ‘Education UK’ – your only option if you want a degree! ‘These programmes [are] for the bunch of people who did not perform too well in HKCEE [taken at the age of 15], or their results might not take them to [a] local university directly’ (Peter Chan, graduated with a UK university degree in 2007, Hong Kong) ‘When I finished my form 5 – repeated form 5 – the HKCEE result was not too good. I wanted to continue to study, but the results were not good enough to continue to study at sixth form and A level, so I considered a higher diploma...The ultimate goal was to complete a degree...I knew that when I finished that programme (the higher diploma) I would be eligible to study the top-up [UK] programme’ (Peter Chan)

14 Lack of recognition: second-class citizens ‘The support that X university gave them [‘local’ degree students] was different from us joint degree students. [There were] plenty of facilities that we could not use.’ (Nicolas Tse, graduate, Hong Kong). ‘I did not feel that X University [Hong Kong HEI] treated us as their real ‘sons and daughters’. Local degree students were their real ‘sons and daughters’. I was like a new immigrant; there was a feeling of hierarchy. How I felt this hierarchy was that local students could borrow 10 books from the library, but we could only borrow 5 books. Local students could borrow for 20 days; we could only borrow for 10 days....The resources they gave us were obviously less than the local degree students.’ (Peter Chan, graduate, Hong Kong)

15 UK students in HK get ‘reduced privileges’ JW: ‘What is the reason for the ‘reduced privileges’ of students on top-up degrees, if it is not a fee thing...’ ‘It is not a fee thing. It is who they are! They are not university students! They are not enrolled in university. So you can’t change it. But we actually feel that they don’t get a bad deal’ (Lilly Ho, head administrator for 42 UK top-up degrees at the continuing education arm of a local (Hong Kong) HEI)

16 Lack of government recognition Disclaimer: ‘It is a matter of discretion for individual employers to recognise any qualification to which these courses may lead’ (SCOPE handbook, 2010-2011)

17 ‘The organisers [the UK-HK HEIs] would not declare [that the government does not recognise ‘top-up’ degree programmes], but people know that….Actually, many students intend to take another Masters programme in a local university after studying the joint university program, because we want to “wash file” [eliminate from the academic record] our top-up degree qualification. However, the sad thing is that people in Hong Kong treasure and value the first degree most. So, I [would] prefer to take a local degree instead of a joint university on, if I could choose again.’ (George Law, graduate of British university, Hong Kong)

18 Lack of social recognition? ‘Somebody aged 50 plus, like our parents, they do not recognise these are degrees. They would only think local universities are real degrees…What they thought is that we should go through the ‘traditional’ process – HKCEE, A level and then get into a local university, then it would be recognised. Even now, my parents do not think that I have completed a degree course…In their eyes it’s not a degree…My parents thought I lied to them about studying a degree.’ (Monica Shaw, successfully completed a 1 year British degree course in 2008)

19 Did you really study in the UK? ‘One day I went to Admiralty to meet a client...I introduced myself and this guy said to me: ‘your English should be better [because] you have come back from the UK’...So I needed to explain [that I did my British degree in Hong Kong]. But sometimes I ask myself, do I really need to explain myself?...However, I do not want people to feel that I am intentionally misleading people. I am honest and I did not go to the UK. So even now, I am still thinking of how I should deal with this kind of situation.... I remember when I had my job interview. In the interview there were also other applicants from HKU, CUHK [Chinese University of HK)]. We had a group interview. I would say I graduated from X [UK] university....I think it is a matter of how I identify myself. I don’t want to...mention [it] but I also don’t want to be misunderstood that I claimed I had been studying in the UK, but kept quiet about it’ (David Kwok, graduated with a UK university degree in 2009, Hong Kong).

20 Some conclusions Issue of inferiority to come to terms with; and the care given to UK universities to THEIR students overseas; Questions of equity; Student expectations and thwarted expectations. Longer term prospects for TNE in the territory?

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