TNE impact case study: Building capacity in South Asia through partnership and blended distance education provision

University of London
Collaboration type:
Independent teaching centres
SDG Goals:
(4) Quality Education, (5) Gender Equality, (8) Decent Work and Economic Growth, (10) Reduced Inequality, (16) Peace Justice Strong Institutions
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Seychelles
Michael Davis - Senior Policy Manager

Background and overview of the case study

The University of London template for working collaboratively with independent Recognised Teaching Centres was reviewed and enhanced in 2018.  This case study addresses this ongoing work in South Asia, where thousands of our students have completed their studies through attendance at one of our 40 centres throughout the region - in Pakistan (29), Bangladesh (7), Sri Lanka (3) and the Seychelles (1). The University’s policy scaffolds have always stopped short of accreditation, affiliation, or validation, but still offer a meaningful and sustainable pathway to a formal connection with the University.  The teaching centre network exemplifies UoL’s unique function to support and build capacity, sitting hand in hand with, and enriching, rather than replacing, local provision.

Despite some challenges around teaching culture and continuous QA, the system has unquestionable strengths. Key characteristics involve local/regional face-to-face provision; teachers who are familiar with the local cohort and culture of learning and teaching within their own countries; various benefits for the local education economy, capacity and local institutions seeking to benchmark their provision and attain university status. 

Our engagement has:  

  • Promoted the value, standards and quality of a UK HE qualification alongside an international and comparative dimension that advances global citizenship
  • Provided access to thousands of students who would not normally satisfy entrance requirements.   
  • Fed international HE, with many graduates saving money on their undergraduate study towards subsequent further study overseas, either at postgraduate level or professionally.  Various scholarships have also been conferred for study at a UoL member institution.
  • Offered a pathway to centres that aim to benchmark and develop their provision on their way to achieving full university status of their own, a process seen most recently in Seychelles.
  • Established a platform for effective local regulatory engagement around TNE, such as our extensive cooperation with the Pakistan Higher Education Commission around its new Foreign Collaboration Policy, where it is significant that among the three principal forms of provision, the UoL model features foremost.

Impact and value

Multidirectional impacts have been afforded through these partnerships, supporting multiple SDGs. 

In terms of educational impact, the University’s engagement with centres is mostly focused academically – for instance to reduce potential clashes in teaching cultures and expectations; to foster development of appropriate pedagogy; to ensure institutions are aware of the minimum achievements students must demonstrate; to tailor their own learning support accordingly; and also to identify, support and share best practice.  In support of these goals, UoL operates programmes of annual visits to centres, learning and teaching workshops and conferences, alongside multiple other development initiatives including models for tutor accreditation.   


The involvement of local centres is also highly beneficial in the local delivery of skills training, careers advice and opportunities, in perceived programme coherence; student engagement; teaching, supervision and assessment practices; and relevance to local employers.  Further benefits are yielded through remedial English courses, and in importing an international and comparative dimension to study and thus promoting global citizenship.  

Research into the impact of our engagement with RTCs has identified five main impacts:

  • Improved rates of student progression and retention; 
  • Enhanced student support and wellbeing in the context of ODL, fostering student engagement and community-building;
  • Benefits to the local education economy;
  • Staff development, developing institutional capability for high-quality ODL. The University of London Post-Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education is attracting growing numbers of participants, with a positive impact on participants educational thinking and practice being demonstrated by the research;
  • Through our work with regulators, an improved perception of the status of ODL as a platform for blended delivery, collaboration and capacity building.  

Societally, and specific to SDGs 4, 5, 8, 10 and 16, multiple case studies relating to alumni who attended these centres yield a wider story of our ongoing impact, as they contribute to longer-term societal development within their local and national contexts, often at senior level.  Recent examples include two Pakistani students shortlisted for Social Impact awards in 2021 for their work on sustainable development, others who advance economic empowerment of youth and harnessing excluded youth potential via the UNDP,  a number of lawyers in humanitarian law and human rights, and specifically as advocates for women and child rights, one of the most prominent being Dipu Moni, Minister of Education in Bangladesh, who has long worked for women’s rights and entitlements in Bangladesh’s economic and social development. 

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