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An investigation of transnational higher education in Hong Kong : developing transnational intercultural communities of practice

Lau, Tsing Erica


Tsing Erica Lau


Catherine, 1962 Montgomery

Josef Ploner


Driven by globalisation and neoliberal agendas (GATE, 2000; WTO, 2015), Transnational Higher Education (TNHE) has emerged to meet the educational demand of markets around the world, including those in Hong Kong (Lo, 2017; UK Higher Education International Unit, 2016). In view of the rapid development of TNHE over the past decade, focus has turned to quality and the purpose of TNHE (Leung and Walters, 2013a, 2013b), with scholars advocating the development of throuintercultural collaboration and interaction in order to bring distinctive value to TNHE (Djerasimovic, 2014; Keay et al., 2014; Montgomery, 2014).

This study aims to enable a new understanding of the phenomenon of TNHE in Hong Kong, with particular focus on how different TNHE models of provision offer intercultural experiences to staff and students and how they develop interculturality, through intercultural communities of practice (Keay et al., 2014). The conceptual framework of this study is built on the concept of communities of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998). The unique nature of communities of practice as a social form of learning is essential to the development of interculturality in TNHE communities (Kim, 2009) and presents a new perspective through which to interpret TNHE. This study adopts a qualitative method and is set within the interpretive paradigm. Case study approach have been adopted to include universities from the United Kingdom and the USA delivering TNHE programmes in Hong Kong, under the models of branch campus, joint delivery and franchised delivery. Prior to the data collection, a review of documents was carried out to explore the institutional mission and internationalisation strategies of the selected universities, and to contextualise the case studies. Individual interviews and focus group interviews with TNHE staff and students were conducted to explore their perceptions of intercultural interaction in TNHE.

The findings of the study reveal that diverse models of transnational education, namely: branch campus, joint delivery and franchised delivery, have a significant impact on the development of perceived intercultural communities of practice. In these models, members of the communities of practice are engaged in diverse rhythms of intercultural interaction, according to which distinctive communities of practice are formed with different forms of interculturality. The study also shows the distinctive value of TNHE in developing positional advantage for graduates in the global labour market, through the nurturing of intercultural and professional competence (British Council, 2013; Mellors-Bourne et al., 2015; Jones, 2013).

Central to this study is the innovative contribution in reconstructing the framework of communities of practice, to develop the concept of transnational interculturality in TNHE communities of practice. This concept illustrates a set of processes of intercultural interaction between TNHE communities of practice, which may contribute to the long term benefits and distinctive value of TNHE as a form of education.


Lau, T. E. (2017). An investigation of transnational higher education in Hong Kong : developing transnational intercultural communities of practice. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 9, 2018
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Education
Public URL
Additional Information School of Education and Social Sciences, The University of Hull
Award Date Sep 1, 2017


Thesis (2.6 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2017 Lau, Tsing Erica. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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