Universities must do more to show that those studying for UK degrees in the Caribbean gain good jobs on graduation, the Quality Assurance Agency has advised.
Some 22,500 students in the Caribbean are pursuing qualifications awarded by UK universities, according to a review of UK higher education provision in the island nations.
Most are taught either by distance learning or in private colleges accredited by UK universities to teach their courses, says the report, Review of UK Transnational Education: Caribbean 2014.
About one in five tertiary-level students in Trinidad and Tobago – 13,135 of 69,000 students in total – are enrolled on a course accredited by a UK university, the QAA says.
These links with UK universities had helped Trinidad and Tobago to increase the proportion of young people in tertiary-level education from 7 per cent in 2001 to 65 per cent last year, it says.
Anglia Ruskin University, London Metropolitan University and the universities of Greenwich, Hertfordshire, Leicester and Sunderland all have partnerships with local colleges and won praise from the QAA for many aspects of their provision.
However, reviewers said that UK universities should improve the monitoring of graduate employability because this is Trinidad and Tobago’s key rationale for investing in transnational education.
Some efforts to trace the destination of graduates are undertaken by partner colleges, and data suggest that “graduates are successful in entering employment, and gaining promotion within existing jobs”, the report says.
But there is only “limited evidence of UK institutions monitoring the impact of their efforts on the destination of graduates”.
With Trinidad and Tobago paying the full tuition fees of many students on UK courses, it was starting to assess the value it received from providers having achieved its higher education participation target of 60 per cent last year, the report says.
It was vital for foreign universities to “demonstrate the…relevance of their programmes” if they wanted to “remain competitive in a changing environment”, said Anthony McClaran, the QAA’s chief executive.