UK courses in China roughly in line with back home
British higher education programmes in the mainland are run to a broadly similar standard as in the UK, according to a new report by the Quality Assurance Agency.
But they could institute more rigorous checks when approving courses and appointing Chinese subject staff and approving partner institutions, the QAA survey said.
The review, carried out in the summer of 2005 among all British institutions linked or planning links with Chinese partners, identified English language competence of some students as 'an area for improvement in some programmes delivered and assessed in English'.
It also said that in the past, institutions had not always undertaken sufficient due diligence enquiries prior to approving Chinese institutions as partners and that currently some institutions were exposing themselves to increased risk by not giving adequate specialist training to British programme leaders responsible for courses delivered in China.
The purpose of the study was to provide reassurance to stakeholders about the academic standards and quality of British awards offered in China.
Eighty-two - nearly half of all British higher education institutions - reported that they were involved in providing education opportunities in China.
In 2005-6 there were nearly 11,000 Chinese students studying in China for a British higher education award, 3,000 of whom were on programmes that would involve them completing their studies in Britain. The vast majority were pursuing business studies, engineering, maths and computer sciences or physical or veterinary sciences.
The audit found that programme approval processes were 'often more rigorous than for domestic arrangements' and external examiners attested that the levels of achievement set for and achieved by students studying in China for a British award were consistent with programmes at home.
The report said that institutions took considerable steps to ensure the experience of Chinese students studying for a British award in China was comparable with students studying for a similar award at home - including the use of teaching methods and the provision of learning resources.
'One of the most positive features for Chinese students was exposure to British teaching styles, especially the lecture/tutorial format,' the report said.
'Students welcomed this approach as it allowed them to gather an international perspective and, during tutorials, to discuss local case studies that helped illuminate the content of the lectures.'
In addition 'considerable effort' was made to ensure students on programmes in China that continued in the UK underwent a managed transition to life and study in the country, the report said.
UK higher education in China: an overview of the quality assurance arrangements www.qaa.a.uk