Open Access Open Badges Correspondence

Quality assurance in transnational higher education: a case study of the tropEd network

Prisca A C Zwanikken1*, Bernadette Peterhans2, Lorraine Dardis3 and Albert Scherpbier4

Author Affiliations

1 Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

2 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland

3 Office for International Affairs, University College London, London, United Kingdom

4 Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

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BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:43  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-43

Published: 27 March 2013



Transnational or cross-border higher education has rapidly expanded since the 1980s. Together with that expansion issues on quality assurance came to the forefront. This article aims to identify key issues regarding quality assurance of transnational higher education and discusses the quality assurance of the tropEd Network for International Health in Higher Education in relation to these key issues.


Literature review and review of documents.


From the literature the following key issues regarding transnational quality assurance were identified and explored: comparability of quality assurance frameworks, true collaboration versus erosion of national education sovereignty, accreditation agencies and transparency. The tropEd network developed a transnational quality assurance framework for the network. The network accredits modules through a rigorous process which has been accepted by major stakeholders. This process was a participatory learning process and at the same time the process worked positive for the relations between the institutions.


The development of the quality assurance framework and the process provides a potential example for others.

Quality assurance; Higher education; Cross-border; Transnational; Networks