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USA: Focus on pathway programmes and quality control among IEPs

Accreditation agencies ACCET and CEA reported a “boom” in membership since the Accreditation act

Growth is being driven by continued quality control and major expansion into pathway programmes that has sparked the government to release regulation guidance for sector comment.

Earlier this month, sector leaders gathered at the second annual English USA stakeholders conference which saw incremental growth since last year reflecting the surge in activity in the sector.

We need to make sure we keep emphasising the US as the destination and compete with other English-speaking countries

“The demographics are showing that the numbers are increasing every year, and with that comes more responsibilities, how best to serve the students and still grow our individual programmes,” Ken Krall, immediate-past Vice President of EnglishUSA told The PIE News.

“There’s enough students to go around, and we need to make sure we keep emphasising the US as the destination and compete with other English-speaking countries,” he said adding “it’s a good time now, but we need to make sure that we keep concentrating on that.”

At the event, accreditation agencies ACCET and CEA reported a “boom” in membership since the Accreditation act resulting in increased collaboration between the two bodies and the government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

ACCET reported that between 2010 and 2014, membership has increased from 43 accredited IEP institutions to 93 (a rise from 227 to 293 sites).

Likewise, CEA now has 275 sites compared to 190 at this time last year and 102 in December 2011.

Meanwhile English USA’s membership has swelled to over 350 members.

With this drive, stakeholders are pushing to remain competitive on a global scale by expanding into pathway provision.

Speaking at the conference, NAFSA president Fanta Aw noted that increased internationalisation strategies among higher education providers are bringing in more students who need ESL instruction.

But Aw warned that as students are still looking at the US as a destination “that should not be taken for granted; those trends can shift very rapidly.”

In response to the increase in pathway courses, SEVP recently released regulation guidance for sector comment that prioritises data integrity and acknowledgement of government regulations.

Stakeholders are pushing to remain competitive on a global scale by expanding into pathway provision

SEVP’s Tim Futoran emphasised the government’s interest in enforcing programme innovation within statutory and regulatory structure.

He also commented that pathway programmes are one of the biggest challenges currently in the sector and encouraged stakeholders to respond to draft guidance.

Speaking with The PIE News, Sandra Janusch, director of the University of Montana’s English Language Institute, which is in the process of developing a pathway programme, agreed that a balance needs to be struck between governance and industry growth.

“It’s obvious that pathway programmes are a very flexible model, and that the regulations are not as flexible, and so how these two things are going to marry each other is still up for discussion,” she said.

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