Malleable Musings

November 28, 2011

Outliers

Filed under: International Student Recruitment — Brendan @ 6:38 am

The 1994 Group recently released a new report, Strategies and trends in the internationalisation of UK universities (pdf).

It’s a pretty straightforward read and has already generated a few headlines in the trade press, of the sort that there is scope for research-intensives to set up abroad and that the Government needs to do more to help universities internationally.  This certainly isn’t a new idea, several people have criticized the White Paper for not covering the international aspects adequately.  Indeed Million+ did a report entitled International Higher Education: Missing an Opportunity? (pdf) a long time before the White Paper’s release.

However what caught my eye within the 1994 Group report were the graphs which were based on the offshore student instance count.  This has been carried out by HESA since 2007/8 so there are now three years of data.  However the data in the first year was extremely patchy, as if I remember correctly it was a voluntary return.

Whilst the data quality will have improved over the past few years I’m still not that sure it’s that useful for comparative purposes.  The problem is the inconsistency in the use of definitions between institutions.  This is something the 1994 Group report recognises, point (ii) of Annex B.  [As an aside point (iv) in this Annex is wrong,  University of London International Programmes data is not all submitted to HESA via the Colleges.]

Anyway this is figure 6 from the 1994 Group report.

Figure 6

This lead to the statements like the following.

The Russell Group stands out as the clear leader in campus based offshore provision, but also has a fair amount of distance and flexible learning.

The 1994 Group report had already picked Oxford Brookes as a bit of an outlier.  So I wondered what would happen if we removed one institution from each mission group and came up with the following graph.  (Leicester, Nottingham and Sunderland in case you are wondering.)

Revised Figure 6

As you see a slightly different picture emerges.  Among other things it made me wonder whether there is much that can actually be said at the mission group level or if these rough groupings are already quite broad churches.

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