Quality Assurance in Transnational Education

  • Morris Williams

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business (DBA)


This study discusses the purpose, process and practice of quality assurance in transnational education (TNE) wherein institutions in one country award their degrees to students studying in another. This arrangement raises the issue of how the quality and standards of the degree programmes are assured so that they enable the programmes delivered in one country to be considered as being of a comparable quality and standard to those delivered in another. The study explores how the cross-national implementation of quality assurance is conducted and perceived by those engaged in it and the challenges such activity faces. Using data collected via structured interviews in Sri Lanka and the UK, the study examines the perceptions of participants in TNE collaboration. The analysis is undertaken within a conceptual framework developed from inter-firm relationship and supply chain management theories. The concept of “relational capital”, and its creation through socialisation activity, is proposed as a key factor in understanding TNE. A further body of literature is explored, that of inter-cultural communication and inter-cultural competence. The study contributes to the literature on TNE and internationalisation by identifying a tension between the financial drivers behind TNE and the resource intensive activities required to build relational capital. The findings are developed into a conceptual model for quality assurance in TNE, which can be used in the planning, management and evaluation of TNE and is designed to develop relational capital through the relational and inter-cultural competences of those engaged in such work. Through such a development, it is argued, quality assurance in TNE can move away from a process of enforced compliance with the prevailing quality assurance processes to one driven by a shared quality culture in which capacity building in the partner institutions of TNE can be achieved.
Date of Award20 Jun 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorRobin Shields (Supervisor) & Rajani Naidoo (Supervisor)


  • Transnational education
  • Relational capital
  • Quality assurance
  • Inter-cultural communication
  • Intercultural competencies
  • TNE

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