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Study Group announces US partnerships

Study Group has announced new partnerships with top-200 ranked US institutions West Virginia University and Baylor University, bringing the number of agreements it has signed in 2017 to six in North America alone.

Burleson Hall, part of Baylor University's campus in Waco, Texas. Photo: Wikicommons

For both universities, this partnership is part of an international recruitment strategy aimed at widening their global reach and making their campus more diverse.

For Baylor University, Study Group will establish the university’s International Study Centre (opening in 2019) and support its direct international recruitment.

At West Virginia University, they will start by supporting the institution’s direct international recruitment – but Study Group North America MD Emily Williams Knight told The PIE News that “the conversation is now on going regarding the opening of an international study centre.”

For both universities, this partnership is part of an international recruitment strategy aimed at widening their global reach and making their campuses more diverse.

WVU’s vice president for Global Strategies and International Affairs William Brustein told The PIE that currently half of the institution’s international students come from the Middle East.

“The university leadership recognises [the value of] a more globalised campus”

This is the first collaboration with a student recruitment partner for WVU, Brustein said. The institution’s strategy includes hiring regional recruiters – focusing on key markets such as Middle East and South Asia, Latin America and East Asia – to work along with Study Group.

At Baylor University, which already recruits in 27 countries annually, the collaboration with Study Group is part of plan to bring international enrolment from 3.6% to more than 5% in the next five years, and to double that in 10 years.

“This partnership with Study Group is a result of several new Baylor initiatives, one of which was a Quality Enhancement Plan focused on attracting and graduating globally minded citizens,” Baylor’s assistant vice president of undergraduate admissions & enrolment Jessica A.King Gereghty told The PIE.

“Our new president, Linda Livingstone, reinforced our commitment for Baylor to be a tier 1 institution, and the university leadership recognises that having a more globalised campus is one of the key ways to achieve this goal,” she said.

Further partnerships may be on the horizon for Study Group. In an interview with The PIE, Study Group CEO David Leigh said that increased awareness of the benefits of pathway programs means this is an interesting time for the company.

“We signed six [partnerships] this year. The opportunity today is certainly stronger than it has ever been in the five years that I have been with Study Group,” he said.

Williams Knight added that she believed it was Study Group’s 25-year experience in the partnership space and the flexibility of its model that meant the company had been successful in winning both of these bids.

“The university always has final admission decision,” she explained. “We send a qualified student who meets their criteria and they ultimately have the final decision on whether or not that student is accepted into the university.”

She added that both new partners spent considerable time weighing up a potential partnership, and visiting other international study centres run by Study Group. “In some cases, universities will take one or two years. They need the faculty to feel comfortable.”

Leigh explained that the business model in the US can differ to established models that exist in the UK and Australia, for example, with a shared revenue model throughout the student lifecycle once recruited.

“It nets out, frankly, in a very similar way but it’s just structured slightly differently.”

Asked about a notion that foundation and pathway programs are a very ‘Asian’ product, Williams Knight acknowledged that China and India are “big drivers in this space, India a little less, other than in post-grad”.

“We make that tradeoff between, let’s call it, quantity of students and the quality of students very very carefully”

But she said, “Eastern Europe is going to be very interesting for us long-term”, as well as pointing to significant opportunity that Study Group saw both in Latin America and in the US onshore market, via the sizable number of international high schools, even if the need for foundation extended to just one term.

“We are still able to deliver a prepared international student [without the pathway program],” she reminded.

And Leigh concluded, “We make that tradeoff between, let’s call it, quantity of students and the quality of students very very carefully with our university partners.

“I think that we would much rather have slightly lower numbers and extremely strong progression. We think ultimately that is the business model that wins.”

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