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International innovation in online higher education services: Framing opportunities

23 September, 2019 | by Professor Hamish Coates

Across the globe, universities are embracing online services to innovate and extend traditional campus-based education. The value online education service providers bring to global universities and higher education lies in the contribution to scale, to global access, and to the transformation of learning objectives, practices and outcomes.

A strong relationship between an online service provider and university is one that is quietly transformative; relieving the university of administrative, technological, marketing and graduate career tasks whilst enabling its academic potential to reach further and deeper into student learning, reinforcing or improving its existing reputational base.

‘International innovation in online higher education services: Framing opportunities in China’, prepared in collaboration with OES by Professor Hamish Coates of Tsinghua University, outlines a four-phase academic value model to discover how Chinese universities might benefit from partnering with online providers. While the model is common to most university workflows, it can be vastly differentiated when partnerships and blended learning are brought into the system – as the paper outlines.

China’s universities continue rapid growth and transformation. The China student boom will see a record number of graduates enter the domestic workforce in a country that now has more universities and students than any other nation. As a result, Chinese universities continue to scale and scope upwards to cater to a wide variety of students with differing levels of educational qualifications and attainment.

The paper explores three case study universities (Tsinghua University, Nanjing University of Science and Technology and Hebei University) to assess current online delivery models and how online providers can add value. The authors find each university can benefit from partnering with a service provider, to service specific operations and objectives.

The case studies indicate there is space for Chinese institutions to extend their deployment of online courses into a genuine space for transformation, rather than seeing it as a pure digital service offering of traditional on-campus models.

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