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Teaching and Learning

Transnational Teaching


Transnational TeachingTransnational teaching is defined as provision of education to overseas students. Australian universities have experienced rapid growth in transnational teaching, particularly in partnership with Asian institutions, since the early 1990s. Ensuring quality in transnational teaching has become a focus in recent years. There are strong links between transnational teaching and a push to internationalise curriculum and develop awareness of cultural competency.

Strategies and Approaches

In Australian universities, transnational teaching is commonly delivered through brief, intensive teaching periods at an offshore campus, or an international partner institution. Curriculum is developed by Australian staff. Ideally, assessment is designed and moderated by all staff involved in a partnership. However, more often just the marking and moderation processes are shared. Marking and moderation may be completed wholly in Australia, or assessments might be marked by partner staff and moderated by Australian academics.

Growth in transnational teaching has focused attention on quality assurance and stronger partnerships. An Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) funded project on Transnational Teaching Teams found that quality learning and teaching developed best with partners working collaboratively on curriculum design (Pyvis, 2013). This was enhanced when transnational teaching teams completed work-based professional learning together.

Common Issues in Transnational Teaching

The key issues are related to assuring quality of learning. This includes:

  • How to support professional learning for academic teaching staff in both institutions.
  • Devising appropriate transnational pedagogies and curriculum.

Transnational teaching and generic skills

Generic skills, such as employability skills or graduate attributes, may span disciplines but they are still deeply culture bound. For example, critical thinking and communication skills are culturally constituted - an appropriate business communication style in China differs from one found in Australia. Curricula need to accommodate these differences.

Transnational teaching and pedagogy

How you teach, as well as what you teach, needs to be reconfigured for quality transnational teaching. Yet this may not be effective for those used to educative traditions based on direct instruction, and who may also be interacting in a second language. Yet this may not be effective for those used to transmission based educative traditions, and who may also be interacting in a second language.

The resources developed from an Australian Learning & Teaching Council (ALTC) funded project, Enhancing frameworks for assuring the quality of learning and teaching in university offshore education programs are very useful. They include case studies of applying quality principles in Australian universities; checklists for use in creating curriculum and choosing pedagogies with partners; and access to an international network of academics who share an interest in quality in offshore programme delivery. Access these resources at

Transnational teaching and assessment

Moderation of assessment amongst members of a transnational teaching team can be a challenge. A toolkit to address this issue was developed from the ALTC project Moderation for fair assessment in transnational learning and teaching (2008-2010). Click to review the Transnational education (TNE) Assessment Moderation Toolkit.

A more recent OLT project Transnational teaching teams: professional development for quality enhancement of learning and teaching involved universities across Asia, including Australia. Many useful and practical resources are available on the project website. See


Pyvis, D. (2013). Applying quality principles to Australian university, transnational teaching and learning, Final Report, Curtin University. Office of Learning and Teaching funded project.

Woodley, C., Simmons, R. and Licciardi R. (2010). Internationalising employability skills in business graduates: international perspectives. Paper presented to the Australian International Education Conference, Sydney, October, 2010.

Dunn, L. and Wallace, M. (2007). Australian academics and transnational teaching: an exploratory study of their preparedness and experiences. Higher Education Research and Development, 25(4), pp. 357-369.