Data from the higher education watchdog shows that one in six students registered at English universities and colleges are taught abroad.
According to the Office for Students (OFS) report, some overseas partner institutions prioritize the number of students over quality and sub-contract, which can make it more difficult to oversee all aspects of teaching.
Research by the Higher Education Regulator in England into the Scale of Transnational Education (TNE) found that students living abroad now account for 16% of all students registered at English institutions.
In 2021-22, 146 English universities and colleges taught 455,000 students in other countries, and China had the highest proportion (14%) of TNE students (61,505 students in total).
One in four (27%) students abroad were taught by overseas partner organizations and a quarter (25%) were taught by distance, flexible or distributed learning.
According to the OFS report, six per cent studied at overseas branch campuses of English universities, with the remaining 42% covered by other arrangements including collaborative provision.
The report states that the TNE makes up “a significant income stream” an increasing proportion of the teaching of many English universities.
The watchdog worked with seven English universities in July last year to find out how they deliver high-quality education overseas.
Challenges identified by these universities include some foreign partner institutions prioritizing student numbers over quality, as well as subcontracting by foreign partner institutions, making it more difficult to oversee all aspects of teaching.
The Open University had the latest population of students living and studying abroad in 2021-22 (46,300) – equivalent to 10% of the total TNE population.
The University of London accounted for 37,400 students (8% of the total) and Coventry University for 21,400 (5%) in 2021–22.
Jean Arnold, director of quality at OFS, said: “As international education continues to grow, an increasing number of universities and colleges are looking at it as a component of their plans to diversify and increase their income .
“Our regulatory remit is not limited to students based in England. It is important that students studying outside the UK have confidence that their course is of the same high quality as if they were studying in England.
He added: “International education is an important and thriving part of our higher education sector. Underlining that it is tightly regulated to ensure quality, we are committed to maintaining and maintaining the reputation of English higher education at home and around the world. intend to increase.
Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) think tank, said: “This is fantastic news. Not everyone wants to go on to study and not everyone can afford to do so.
“International education allows people to gain a credible UK qualification without leaving their home. It also helps UK universities to spread their wings without increasing carbon emissions through lots of extra flights.