“We can’t do it ourselves”
This was the comment that punctuated the conversation between a senior mid-western US university Enrolment executive and our Senior Vice-President Business Development recently about the opportunity for a partnership for recruitment of international students to the school.
The Enrolment vice-president told us that they did not have the scale to recruit international students to the school through its own network and resources.
The school is keen to extend its enrolment of international students to support its’ twin goals of internationalization and additional revenue.
The school also acknowledged the pressing need for a pathway program to provide opportunities for students to reach the school’s required level of English language proficiency as well as be equipped with the academic skills to succeed at college in America.
EduCo, with its 17 recruitment offices located in the major source countries for international students has the reach and the expertise to provide a diverse international student pool for its educational partners.
As part of its solutions package EduCo also has a suite of pathway programs including a university preparation program and a graduate preparation program through its curriculum partner, ACT Inc.
These programs provide more than academic preparation for the chosen discipline and English language enhancement to meet the standards required by universities and colleges. General academic skills such as synthesizing, paraphrasing and referencing are embedded into the curriculum as is academic integrity and ethics training.
Soft skills such as teamwork, critical enquiry and independent learning are also integrated into the curriculum for both programs.
There is a strong emphasis on preparation for research in the graduate preparation program and a solid grounding in the different research methodologies.
There is efficacy to support the academic credibility of ACT’s programs. ACT’s studies show that pathway program preparation can lead to higher graduation rates with a comparison at Iowa University showing an average rate of 62% for pathway students and 43% for direct entry international students. The study was conducted over a four year period (ACT International News 2014).
ACT’s tracking of student progress through its pathway programs shows a high co-relation between the grades scores in the Academic English modules to TOEFL scores.
The results from Qingdao University in China show a co-relation between the ACT pathway program GPA and TOEFL scores of 0.675. The sample consisted of 441 students that entered American universities in the period 2007 – 2011 (ACT International News, 2012)).
EduCo has already partnered in the US with colleges for delivery of our pathway programs. The curriculum is contextualised to meet the school’s academic requirements and the school controls all the elements of delivery including setting entrance requirements, employing its own teachers, and applying its own quality assurance regime.
According to Inside Higher Ed (30 April, 2014), the number of pathway programs run in conjunction with corporate entities in the US, continues to increase. There are a number of new providers backed by private equity corporations entering the market.
This trend supports my research into the management and governance of international providers of pathway programs operating on a global basis. My case study analysis in 2012 revealed congruence toward a corporate model to operate the distribution and delivery of pathway programs (Gillett, Steering in the same direction? An examination of the mission and structure of governance of providers of pathway programs. Asia TEFL, 2014).
That study revealed that twenty one universities (out of the forty universities) in Australia had entered into formal agreements with corporate providers for the recruitment of students and the operation of pathway programs. That number has been extended by two since that study was done, although a significant event was the end of the long-term deal with Australian-based corporate provider, Navitas Ltd, by Macquarie University late in 2014.
As Elizabeth Redden points out in a piece on pathway programs for international students in Inside Higher Ed (30 April 2014), there is a strong trend toward joint ventures and other forms of non-profit/for-profit partnerships in higher education in the United States.
She comments on the increasing drive for universities to internationalise and to bring more full fee-paying international students to their campuses for financial reasons.
“The U.S. third party/outsourced pathway market is more than half the size of the Australian market despite having a higher education system that is 10 times the size,” Karan Khemka, a partner with strategic education consulting firm, Parthenon Group, told Inside Higher Ed.
“We anticipate that growth will be constrained only by the pace at which private providers can develop the market”, said Khemka.
In the same piece Redden cites the case of George Mason University that having initially developed an in-house pathway program realized the limits of its recruiting capacity and decided to partner with a corporate provider.
“EduCo offers a start-to-end service for partners”, according to Senior Vice President of Marketing, Adam Roberts. “We can augment the recruiting arrangements for a school by providing access to a wide pool of qualified applicants through our network. We can also assist with pre-screening of applicants to support the university’s admission requirements”, adds Roberts.
“At all times we work within the school’s parameters to ensure their policies and processes are integral to our efforts”, he added.
Roberts’ experience is that schools want more than the provision of a pathway program. “They want to be assured that the students will be successful in their studies – so do we, recruit, convert, retain is our mantra”, he said.