A guide published by the UK HE International and Europe Unit and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education constitutes an invaluable tool for universities that have staff involved in transnational education (TNE). Getting staff issues right protects a university’s reputation.
A Guide to Offshore Staffing Strategies for UK Universities, authored by John Fielden of CHEMS Consulting with Erica Gillard, looks at the range of challenges that arise in delivering quality programmes offshore to match those at home. It draws on the experiences of nine universities in the UK, US and Australia, working in China, Malaysia, the Middle East and elsewhere.
There are typically three types of TNE staff: locally recruited, internationally recruited and ‘flying faculty’ from the home campus. One clear factor in successful TNE is ensuring that all of these are committed to the venture. What are the benefits and pitfalls of employing local, international or home campus staff? How do universities recruit and retain the best staff and how do they meet their professional and personal needs? The report provides checklists for institutional policy-makers, human resource managers and academic staff going abroad.
Aspects covered by the report include the difficulties in persuading staff to move overseas when there are family commitments at home and concerns over maintaining research output. The regulatory barriers to staffing are not as significant as in some other areas, although the general message is that having a local partner to smooth the way with immigration and visa formalities is essential. There is a similar message concerning legal issues.
Support for internationally recruited and home staff is critical to retention and success. Help with integration into and understanding of host cultures is important for staff recruited from the home campus.
Creating a research environment cannot be achieved quickly. It requires the right staff, investment in facilities, seed money and mastering the routes to obtaining research funding from national sources. The last of these can be a long process.
Managers and human resource specialists need to acquire the skills and techniques that multinationals use; risks of reputational damage are otherwise high.
The full report and case studies are available to download for free from: www.international.ac.uk, under research and publications.