"Catch Me I'm Falling": Key factors in the deterioration of offshore education partnerships
This paper examines the relationships between Australian universities and their offshore partners as they deliver Australian academic programmes in the South‐East Asian region. Australian universities have signed over 1000 agreements with offshore universities, industry associations, and private providers, and it is estimated that around 36% of international students studying Australian programmes are doing so in countries other than their own. Following the relationship marketing literature, a study of the early interaction phase of the relationship life cycle is presented. Utilising convergent interviews and case studies, the paper identifies a number of factors in the early interaction phase critical to the prevention of relationship deterioration and termination. These include communication, trust, and a shared vision. In addition, several factors arising in the early interaction stage causing potential relationship deterioration or termination in the later stages of the relationship are identified. These include (1) low levels of internal commitment within the Australian university; (2) a failure to identify the key roles and responsibilities of the partner; (3) failure to establish win/win relationships; and (4) the departure of key personnel.