Skills beyond school

The Internationalisation of Tertiary Education


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This project deals with the major trends and issues related to the internationalisation and trade of tertiary education, including the possible use of cross-border education for development purposes.



The regulatory capacity of national and regional education authorities is being challenged by increasing mobility of students, faculty and workers across borders and by new forms of cross-border delivery involving the mobility of educational programmes and institutions. Cross-border tertiary education presents opportunities and challenges in sending as well as receiving countries for quality, access, cost, and capacity building. It has become a significant economic and commercial stake in some countries and educational services are included in the current negotiations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in the World Trade Organization (WTO). A policy brief summarises the main issues.


CERI has brought together the Education and trade communities to discuss the opportunities and challenges of these new trends through 3 fora on trade and education in 20022003 and 2004.


CERI has analysed the policy implications of these developments in two publications: Internationalisation and Trade in Higher Education: Opportunities and Challengesand Quality and Recognition in Higher Education: The Cross-border Challenge.  This work feeds and is continued in CERI's ongoing project on the future of higher education.


CERI is also developing conceptual foundations and a data strategy to improve international statistics and indicators on the internationalisation of tertiary education.



Having mapped the ways in which OECD countries deal with international quality assurance, accreditation and recognition of higher education qualifications, CERI has collaborated with UNESCO on the development of guidelines for cross-border tertiary education  that will enhance learner protection while respecting countries’ rights to regulate the quality of their systems. The guidelines have been endorsed by the OECD Council on 2 December 2005.


Ensuring Quality in Cross-Border Higher Education (published in November 2015) monitors the extent to which tertiary education stakeholders complied with the Guidelines in 2014. It will be of interest to policy makers, leaders of tertiary education institutions and quality assurance agencies, as well as to academics and other parties interested in higher education and its internationalisation.


CERI is currently working on the possible uses of cross-border tertiary education for capacity building in developing countries.  It coorganised a workshop to discuss the issue in September 2006 with NUFFIC and the World Bank, and published a joint report with the World Bank: Cross-border Tertiary Education: A Way towards Capacity Development.




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