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US: 56% HEIs in pathway partnerships not nationally ranked

A new report from NAFSA: Association of International Educators on the burgeoning US pathway market, has found that just over half of the higher education institutions who have partnered with pathway providers are not placed on the national rankings.

The pathway scene has long matured in other countries, namely the UK and Australia, but is relatively new in the US. Photo: Kaplan

These institutions alone accounted for 5.8% of all international students in the US

Preliminary findings released from The Landscape of Pathway Partnerships in the US report shows that  over half (56%) of the 45 universities it analyses are not nationally ranked on the US News National University Rankings.

“I was expecting they all will be somewhere in the rankings”

“Given that many international students consider rankings in their decision-making process, some of these institutions struggle to attract international students,” said Rahul Choudaha, CEO of DrEducation and principal researcher of the report.

“It seems that by partnering with pathway providers, institutions aim to expand the applicant pool to international students who are not ranking-conscious and at the same time require additional English preparation to meet admissions requirements.”

The report, released in full this autumn, used information from 45 higher education institution partnerships with eight pathway providers.

The first phase of the research found that these institutions alone accounted for 5.8% of all international students in the US, with 53% being public universities.

The report aims to plug the information gap in the booming US pathway space and deepen universities’ understanding of the sector, said Choudaha.

“Every time they [universities] are playing in the dark, trying to make a sense of what everybody is trying to sell them,” he told The PIE News.

For the purpose of the research, pathway providers are defined as “private third-party entities partnering with institutions to recruit international students and offer English-language preparation with academic coursework applicable toward graduation requirements”.

The second phase of the research, set to be released later this year, will provide an overview of characteristics of the institutions involved in the pathway partnerships.

The pathway scene has long matured in other countries, namely the UK and Australia, but is relatively new in the US.  Still, demand is growing and Joanna Ng Hartmann, senior director of IEM-ISS at NAFSA said there has been a marked increase in the number of members asking for information about pathway providers.

“The most important thing is you have the right information and enough information to make the choice for your universities”

“From our point of view, the most important thing is you have the right information and enough information to make the choice for your universities,” she told The PIE News.

The second phase of the research will look further into the understanding of the partnerships from the side of the institutions.

“What are their experiences, why they are considering a partnerships, why they are not considering a partnership,” said Choudaha, adding that it will also look at what the considerations were in deciding to make the partnership happen.

“It’s ultimately the institution’s choice,” he said. “But provide them enough background information and data to make those choices informed.”

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