The University of Sunderland (UoS) is a public research university situated in Sunderland, England. Formerly a Polytechnic, it gained university status in 1993 though Sunderland has been an important centre for education since 674AD. The university has campuses in Sunderland, London and the only UK university to have a campus in Hong Kong. In addition, the university has been actively engaged in its TNE provision for over 20 years and is one of the leading Transnational Educational providers in the UK, with 24 TNE centres located in 15 countries with approximately 20,000 students of which, 5,000 are TNE.
One of UoS valued TNE partners is the Botswana Accountancy College (BAC). Its main campus is in the Gaborone City and its second campus is located in Francistown. In 1996, the college established itself via a joint venture between the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning and Debswana Ltd. The college specialises in Accountancy, Business Management, Hospitality, Information Technology, and Taxation and attracts over 2,500 students. In 2005, a full franchise agreement was signed between BAC and UoS, in which the UoS provides a series of IT based undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. In 2021, the college successfully sought approval for a ‘Hybrid Full Franchise Agreement’ relating to a devolution of responsibility for marking and student progression.
The BAC and UoS partnership has prospered over the past 17 years in which there has been a clear synergy in jointly enriching the student learning journey. BAC students equally benefit in having access to a labyrinth of library resources from both institutes, and an academic team who are enterprise active and actively source external speakers from the regional community, alumni students and UoS academics to further reduce the gap between theory and practice. The TNE pedagogy to learning, in sourcing commercial exposure within the classroom, is equipping students not just with strong degree classifications but the much needed employability skills and agility to secure careers with progress, either in business as intrapreneurs to enhance Botswana’s innovation and infrastructure, or in utilising their exposure to have the confidence and skillset in becoming an entrepreneur, in setting up a business to accommodate innovative solutions to ensure work with meaning, economic growth within the community and contributing to Botswana’s human resource capital.
The challenges of the C19 pandemic affected all educational institutes. However, BAC with the collaborative support of the UoS, readily transitioned to an online delivery mode to a subsequent hybrid model. The combined efforts of the academics, IT support, and administrative team, demonstrated a committed and collaborative culture in which additional student support services were provided to ensure the health and well-being for both students and staff, all contributing to the sustained quality of education resulting in excellent student retention and exiting graduates with good honours degrees.
To sustain and grow the above impacts, BAC’s and the UoS collaborate in providing students with post-graduate progress sponsored routs to study in BAC or the UoS. Such offerings are not ringfenced and embrace BAC’s academics in providing a financial infrastructure in enabling academics to enrol onto higher degrees. Thus, generating collaborative research impacts such as conferences and journals, all of which are generating research informed teaching. The close working relationship has embraced the UoS links with ‘Sunderland Software City’ concept, to replicate it within Gaborone City as a potential digital hub to support its sustainable cities and communities. The synergies between BAC’s and the UoS clearly value their civic duties with key stakeholders and the pursue of core principle, such as gender equality, economic growth, employee appreciation and raising students and its community aspirations as tomorrow’s change makers.