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Three HE alliances for Shorelight Education

A new private-equity backed player has burst on to the university partners scene with the announcement of three deals with institutions in the US and UK in the last two months. Launched in January of this year, US-based Shorelight Education says it has the capital to make universities’ international dreams a reality with resources in 35 countries “primed and prepped” to recruit students.

Shorelight has announced parnterhips with New York's Fordham University, the University of Central Florida and the UK's Bath Spa University

The company is in conversations with an additional 15-20 institutions

Shorelight has closed agreements with the US’s second largest university, University of Central Florida, as well as Fordham University in Manhattan and Bath Spa University in the UK.

“We want to bridge the gap for universities who have big ideas in their aspirations for international”

“We’re in university sign-up mode at the moment,” said Vice-president Imran Oomer. “For us, we want to bridge the gap for universities who have big ideas in their aspirations for international.”

In the  company’s first three partnerships, Shorelight will invest in preparation programmes, build infrastructure, provide student services and take care of back-end management.

The universities will be responsible for the academic content of the courses and profits from the pathway programme will be shared 50-50 between the two entities.

However, Oomer says the company isn’t committed to just pathway programmes. “We wanted to come in without a formula,” he said. “Every school is different. When we go into a market it’s not going to be Shorelight at whichever university. It’s a white label on the market side.”

“We always say we want to bring students to you or bring you to students so we’re open to transnational initiatives as well,” he added.

The company was co-founded by Tom Dretler, previous CEO at higher education consultancy firm Eduventures and Basil Cleveland, who grew Kaplan’s transnational degree programmes as Senior Vice President of Kaplan Global Solutions.

Shorelight’s business approach comes from a whitepaper Dretler wrote to guide college and university leaders to manage debt and be strategic in their spending in order to create profitable institutions.

“While leaders might have a sense of what needs to be done, they may not know how to achieve the required degree of change that will allow their institution not just to survive, but also thrive with a focused strategy and a sustainable financial base,” he wrote.

At UFC, international students account for just 2,100 of the 60,000 student population. Three of the university’s five future objectives involve recruiting more foreign students.

In response, Shorelight has provided the start up for a 12-month undergraduate programme with tracks in business, engineering and humanities that will feed into the second year of a degree programme. The university expects its first intake of 60 students in 2014.

The company also announced this month that it will invest in an academic accelerator programme at Fordham University called Global Graduate, to prepare students for graduate study at institutions across the US.

“We always say we want to bring students to you or bring you to students so we’re open to transnational initiatives as well”

“This partnership with Shorelight Education is about changing the growth trajectory of the school and expanding options and horizons for all students” said Fordham’s Dean of the Graduate School of Business Administration, David A. Gautschi. “It’s innovative, it’s student-focused, and it’s a central part of our enrollment development strategy.”

Shorelight’s inaugural partnership, announced in August, was brokered with Bath Spa university in the UK to build a Global Business Leadership College that will offer a portfolio of business and management -related degree programmes.

With 150 international students currently enrolled, the university estimates the first intake year in 2014 will enable an additional 300 international students to study in Bath, rising to an intake of 2,000 over the following four years.

Oomer confirmed that the company is in conversations with an additional 15-20 institutions and the next calendar year will focus on recruitment for established partners in Latin America, MENA and Asia.

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