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Leading higher education in a global age

Greenwich tops UK tables for the number of students based overseas, and is 56th in the world's top 200 universities for international students, Times Higher Education reported in April.

This success is underpinned by a mission to give students excellent learning opportunities, irrespective of where they are geographically.

Global Greenwich, the university's internationalisation strategy, has transformed the university's ability to support partners and make students from Albania to Zambia feel they belong to one community.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Martin Snowden leads on the university's goal to be a global university of choice. "Today more and more students are looking to universities to provide an international experience and opportunities in a global job market," he says. "Working with TNE partners is hugely beneficial for both sides – we share learning and research, and the cooperation deepens over time."

The university recently celebrated 15 years of collaboration in China. The relationship started with one institution, Hunan Agricultural University, and today embraces 12 TNE partners and a further 26 institutions who send their students to complete their studies in Greenwich.

HK graduation flowers 

Nick Hand, Director of Partnerships for the Business Faculty says: "Our strategy is to build long-term, creative collaborations. It would be much easier to have a generic model to roll out to all partners, but it wouldn't engage people or lead to the dynamic relationships we want. Our focus is on increasing links between faculties and programmes in each partnership."

In order to create a single learning, teaching and research community across borders, the university has been innovative. Recent steps include opening the university's pioneering, online PGCert Higher Education to partners, and basing full time representatives in the busiest regions. It has also rolled out online marking to every single student. Summer schools give TNE students access to cutting-edge equipment on UK campuses, and joint symposia and PhD scholarships are leading to shared research.

Extending the PGCert Higher Education to TNE partners

The qualification that underpins teaching excellence – the PG Certificate in Higher Education – has been transformed into a fully online, international programme by the University of Greenwich. Launched in 2014, it leads the sector in building a single community with overseas partners which extends the learning of all members.

Over 3,500 students in Trinidad and Egypt are already benefitting, as their lecturers engage with a programme designed to be as practical and interactive as possible.

HK graduation 

"Nothing short of revolutionary" is how one Trinidadian lecturer described the response after applying the first term's lessons to her own teaching.

The transformation from face-to-face to online learning has been radical. Today students attend classes and meet tutors in environments like Adobe Connect. They might share their learning through an animation, mind map or PechaKucha (presentation of 20 images, 20 seconds each).

A mathematician in Cairo can find themselves paired with a midwife in London during shared exercises. Finding out what they have in common and what needs negotiating to meet local conditions opens new avenues of learning.

Just as digital innovation is helping PGCert students to work at their own pace, to absorb lecture information at home and spend classes learning actively and collectively, so teachers are realising they can use the same technology and pedagogy to enhance the learning of their students. One international participant reported: "I now deliver teaching online with confidence, largely due to my PGCert online experience."

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A high level of student support is built in, including physical face-to-face contact. 'Flying faculty' visits give overseas groups an induction week in September and a week in April, something the QAA noted as unique in its Caribbean TNE provider comparison.

The October University for Modern Sciences & Arts (MSA Cairo) had ten senior staff on the PGCert in 2015, and doubled this in 2016. MSA President, Professor Dr Khayri Abdel Hamid, sees this as a promise of growing collaboration: "MSA is looking forward indeed to the continuation of a fruitful academic and professional relationship that would place Egyptian instructors on a par with their British counterparts."

More TNE partners are preparing to support their staff through the Greenwich PGCert, giving their institutions the competitive edge a Higher Education Academy-recognised qualification provides.

First conferences

Building on the experiences of enhancing teaching and learning this year, MSA Cairo and SBCS Trinidad & Tobago have established their own one-day, annual teaching and learning conference with Greenwich support. Staff were able to take time out to meet colleagues from other faculties, share best practice and inspire each other.

They considered how to best engage students and develop leadership in an academic setting. Michael Bradshaw, Executive Director of the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago, gave the keynote speech at SBCS.

At MSA, staff heard about the future direction of Egyptian Higher Education through keynote addresses by the President and Vice President of QAA Egypt. Dr Heba Adel, a senior member of MSA's academic leadership, participated in the Greenwich 'SHIFT 2017: Annual Conference of Learning, Teaching & Assessment' in London in January and went on to lead MSA's conference. 

Her colleague Ahmed M K Nada, Associate Professor Faculty of Biotechnology, said: "This programme could transform the culture of learning across the whole institution. I am so pleased to be part of this fruitful partnership."

Today more and more students are looking to universities to provide an international experience and opportunities in a global job market. Working with TNE partners is hugely beneficial for both sides – we share learning and research, and the cooperation deepens over time

MSA Cairo: growing research links

MSA Cairo is Greenwich's biggest transnational education partner and the relationship has blossomed beyond teaching into a range of exchanges and research links.

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Professor Martin Snowden speaks at an MSA graduation ceremony

Research symposia are held with MSA every two years. Organised at the level of an international conference, they give an opportunity for staff from Greenwich and MSA to share research knowledge. They also provide staff development opportunities for early career staff to present their research work and new data in a constructive and supportive international forum.

PhD scholarships are now offered to several academics each year after the success of Reham Mohsen, MSA's Lecturer of Chemistry and Nanotechnology, who completed her PhD at Greenwich in 2014/15. She published several papers on biomedical research done with Greenwich colleagues. All partner students are eligible for discounts on further study in the UK and MSc scholarships are available for best performing students.

Professor Martin Snowden, who is Faculty Head for Engineering & Science as well as Pro Vice-Chancellor, says: "Developing research collaboration enriches the partnership. It allows us to undertake joint research bids and ensure that final year teaching is research informed. Research projects also help to make the curriculum more vibrant and clearly at the leading edge of the subject."

Around 70 MSA students on programmes including Architecture, Electrical Communication & Electronics, Pharmacy and Biotechnology come to Greenwich each year for two-week summer schools.

They allow students to use state-of-the-art facilities not available in their own institutions, such as DNA fingerprinting and advanced microbiology technology.