Achieving sustainable development in the West African region through transnational education

Achieving sustainable development in the West African region through TNE.
Sustainable development involves improvements in a people’s living conditions, creating equity and justice, and allowing generations to come to be able to realise their aspirations and meet their needs (Koehn and Obamba, 2014). As reflected in the 4th item of the UN sustainable development goals initiative, education is seen as an essential tool. While there has been considerable research into the need and avenues for HEIs to contribute to sustainable development objectives, most of these do not seem to consider the considerable impact of HE internationalization especially in the area of Transnational Education (TNE). This paper seeks to examine the role of TNE in achieving sustainable development in the West African region. It pays specific attention to the higher education deficiency and the development of TNE in the region and make suggestions on how to improve the current to ensure that this increasingly prominent form of HEI internationalization delivers the requisite skills and knowledge necessary for sustainable development in the region.
The research adopts a qualitative approach and interview data was collected from a range of key regional TNE stakeholders. Giving the exploratory nature of this research, the qualitative approach rather than the quantitative approach is preferable. A total of 19 interviews were conducted – from UK universities, the British Council UK, the British Council Nigeria, the Nigerian Ministry of Education and some students from the region.
Results from the data shows that unlike other regions, the West African states lack a strong TNE presence. There are demand and supply element to this situation. In terms of the demand factors, some students within the region prefer to travel outside their country of origin for higher education and related career prospects. In terms of supply factors, HEIs often cite problems related to lack of or poorly defined policy on TNE as well as related supports systems. This situation is rather unfortunate giving the contributions of TNE to the development of some other regions of the world especially the South East Asia and the Middle East regions. In part these regions have benefited from a clear policy on TNE and have developed relevant support systems as a result. Their growth has been attributed to various stakeholders having shared understanding and commitment. The same template can be adopted by the West African states for the future prosperity of the region.