International students who enrol at English universities after taking transnational courses may be more likely to progress on to postgraduate study, research suggests.
A study by the Higher Education Funding Council for England says that 40 per cent of international students who started undergraduate programmes in 2011-12 after taking a course delivered overseas by the same institution, or by a partner, had entered postgraduate study within two years. This was significantly up on the 30 per cent figure for the 2009-10 cohort, according to the report.
Chinese students account for the vast majority of transnational entrants who move on to postgraduate level study, making up 83 per cent of the 2011-12 students who progressed.
Hefce carried out an analysis of their progression rate, and found that 65 per cent of Chinese transnational entrants who entered in 2009-10 were in postgraduate study within four years, compared with 45 per cent of other students from the country.
The gap was particularly marked at institutions with a high average tariff score, where 77 per cent of Chinese transnational students progressed to postgraduate study, compared with 50 per cent of other Chinese learners.
In total, 5,340 Chinese transnational entrants continued into postgraduate education in 2013-14.
The report says that one possible interpretation is that transnational pathways are increasingly being used by students seeking postgraduate education.
Transnational students spend less time studying for their first degree in the UK than other international students, with 81 per cent transferring in the second or third years of their programmes.
“The combination of a relatively short first degree with a full-time postgraduate degree…appears to be a cost- and time-effective way of acquiring two degrees,” the report says.
However, preliminary analysis by Hefce indicates that transnational students do not necessarily stay loyal to one university during their time in England.
Only 38 per cent of transnational students continued their postgraduate studies at the same institution where they completed their undergraduate degree, the report says.
Marco Ferelli, Hefce’s director of analytical services, said that the research highlighted how transnational education was “a significant part of the English higher education offer”.
“In the light of this research we can see the importance of long-term commitment and a strategic engagement overseas,” he said.
The report also updates earlier Hefce research, confirming that 33 per cent of all non-European Union students who started courses at English universities during 2013-14 transferred from overseas programmes. Some 17,140 learners enrolled via this route.
Large proportions of Chinese and Malaysian students come to the UK via the transnational route, with business and management remaining the most popular courses.