Tapping into the demand for short-term study abroad from Latin Americans, Bridge Pathways will also assist its US university partners with international student recruitment and facilitate partnerships with foreign institutions.
Bridge has entered into strategic partnerships with Colorado Mesa University, Chadron State College in Nebraska, Philadelphia University and Instituto Universitario de Pesquisas do Rio de Janeiro (IUPERJ) in Rio de Janeiro.
“There’s a misconception that the Brazilian market is like China or Saudi Arabia”
The focus on expansion in Latin America builds on the company’s established operations in the region. And owner of Bridge, Jean Marc Alberola, told The PIE News that the region has been relatively untapped until now.
“There’s a misconception that the Brazilian market is like China or Saudi Arabia where Brazlian students are seeking to study in the US for the full four years and that’s not the case,” he explained.
Alberola says the key to opening up the “new frontier in Latin America” is focusing on volume of short-term undergraduate courses in the price sensitive countries of the region.
In March, Bridge will welcome its first cohort of students to its pathway centre on the IUPERJ campus, the research institute of University Candido Mendes, one of the oldest and largest universities in Brazil, with more than 20,000 students across 17 branch campuses.
The Rio centre aims to attract students from other universities in the area and will be a hub for students to find information on Bridge university partners and other opportunities to study abroad.
“We’re going to invite any university that is interested in speaking to our students to come free of charge,” said Alberola.
“Choosing a university is about finding the right fit. We might be more knowledgable about our close partners but we’re not going to not allow others that might want to come talk at our fairs or promote their programmes.”
Plans for further expansion on to other Latin American countries including Argentina, Columbia, Peru and Mexico are in the works. “Hopefully in the second semester we’ll be able to announce Chile,” confirmed Alberola.
The pathway market is heating up with news just this week that pathway giant INTO announced its fifth partnership with a university in the USA. Berlitz-owned ELS opened its first international pathway in France in 2012 and Cambridge Education Group opened pathways in Boston and Amsterdam that same year.
With centres on three US campuses set to open in June, Bridge says it is looking to leverage its small size and history with student recruitment to stand out in the market.
“The difference with our centres is that they are strategically linked to the recruitment strategies of our universities”
“We’re a boutique chain at this stage and we’re working very closely with our partners and we chose them carefully,” said Alberola.
“And the difference with our centres is that they are strategically linked to the recruitment strategies of our universities. Students that we’re sending on those pathway programmes on campuses are pre-selected and do go on to study a degree at the university.”
Alberola is also hopeful the centres will facilitate more mutual mobility between US institutions and Latin America.
“If US universities begin to leverage their study abroad and send students to Brazilian universities, for example, they might find that the favour gets returned exponentially,” he said.