As more and more students are globally mobile and want to improve their employment prospects with a foreign degree, agencies must learn to promote this new product in a way that will ensure that both the student’s language and educational needs are best met. Here are some top-tips for agents looking to offer higher education options in the US with a pathway program component.Coordination between institutions
This is key so agents don’t have to jump through the same hoops twice; submit the same documentation, answer the same questions, etc. Each institution should be able to knowledgeably speak on the highlights of the other and how they work together to create a positive experience for both the agent and the student.
There are pathway programs that offer academic coursework alongside ESL training and those that focus on ESL first and separately. Different students might benefit more from one format vs. the other, but it is important to keep in mind that US regulations require international F1 students to be enrolled full-time with one institution at a time. Regardless of the format, the pathway program should provide an intensive language experience foremost, as this is where international students often struggle the most. Without this foundation first, it will be exceedingly difficult for students succeed in university.
Going to university in the UK is very different from the US, just as learning General English should be quite distinct from an Academic English program. Students should be gaining the language and learning skills that are directly related to their next step. Agents should consider all information available about a pathway program’s curriculum and objectives. Preparing students properly for university strengthens the trust between agent and language provider, and between language provider and university.
Just like there are many language providers, there are almost innumerable higher-ed providers, covering every imaginable program, budget and destination. And, just like in the language industry, agents should be looking for institutions that are accredited and recognized by the government. This information should always be readily available on a university’s website and, when a true synergy exists between pathway program and university, the language provider will be able to speak knowledgeably about their university partner’s accreditation. What agents want to avoid is to be driven solely by price or location in their recommendations for students, since poorly accredited universities can leave a student with a degree that is not recognized by another institution or employer.
Not all universities in the US work with agencies and it can be quite difficult to determine the ones that do. This information should be available to the agent early on in their work with their student. Language providers can help clarify this issue with their university partners and agents, acting as a bridge that will ensure everyone benefits from the relationship.
Agents must seek to understand the agreements they are signing with universities, as they often differ quite a bit from those signed by language providers. When will commission be paid? For which semesters of a student’s program? This should all be specified in the contract with the university.
These are just some tips for IALC agents who offer, or are considering offering, higher education options in the US. We recommend they work closely with their language provider partners to make sure that they are working efficiently in finding the best-fit program and preparation for each of their students.
Georgina Herrera Moreno is the Manager of International Student Recruitment for BridgePathways, which offers city center and on-campus Academic English programs for degree-seeking and short-term students. View school profiles: Philadelphia, Grand Junction and Chadron. Learn more at www.BridgePathways.com