Transnational education strategies: what works, what doesn’t? A view from Australia – Part 3 of 4

Eugene Sebastian, RMIT University

Monash University has gone global and its international strategy has evolved over time.

Monash University is an Australian institution established in 1958. For Monash, being international is its core mission. Monash began recruiting international students in the mid-1980s and then in the 1990s decided to go global, establishing foreign branch campuses in Malaysia (1998, around 7000 students today, is profitable) and South Africa (2001, about 4000 current students, has struggled financially). In 2001, Monash decided to go beyond branch campuses by establishing teaching centres in Italy and England (2001). Since then, Monash has pursued new opportunities in India, China, and Indonesia.

Monash’s international strategy has three key elements:

1. Connecting to Asia’s major innovation hubs. Asia’s investments in research and development are increasing rapidly. Monash wants to academically support this growth by connecting to innovation networks that are forming.

2. Evolving the models. Monash has moved away from undergraduate branch campuses in Malaysia and South Africa and has shifted its focus from undergraduate to post-graduate. Monash is forming partnerships to support this shift.

3. Connecting to industry. Monash is creating partnerships with industry in China and India where companies fund students’ educations.

“Understanding opportunities, beyond just market assessment, helps shape the thinking, helps shape our response.” — Eugene Sebastian

Important lessons that Monash has learned about TNE are:

  • Policy opportunities. It is essential to understand the contextual factors that shape the prospects and forms of institutional responses. It is the context that catalyses the way and informs why an institution like Monash might want to enter a country. Just conducting market assessments is not enough. Assessing the context needs to be coupled with understanding the policy environment. For Monash this has meant identifying signals, issues, and government agendas. Monash has relied heavily on the input of alumni in different countries for insights to shape its strategy.
  • Mobilising structures. Multiple structures influence the way in which Monash organises itself around a strategic initiative. This includes aligning its mission with the mission of other organisations, having appropriate governance structures, supporting the mission and governance structures with adequate resources and staffing, aligning systems, and having academic alignment. TNE can be expensive and infrastructure intensive.

Link to the S6.02 Transnational education strategies

Dr Eugene Sebastian is currently Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor Business International at RMIT University. He was formerly with Monash University where he spent eight years in various roles including Director, Global Initiatives and Associate Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.

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