U.S. Department of Education willing to experiment on accreditation

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Education is preparing to take a “deep dive” into accreditation, Diane Auer Jones, a special adviser to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, said Tuesday.

Speaking at a University Professional and Continuing Education Association conference, Jones said that current regulations are hampering colleges’ efforts to offer non-degree-level credentials.

“What we hear from both faculty and employers is that [accreditation] is always going to hold innovation back,” said Jones.

The department announced earlier this year that it is planning to amend federal rules related to accrediting agencies and accreditation procedures through negotiated rule making.

Notice of the public hearings for this process will come out in the Federal Register this summer, said Jones. “We take these public hearings very seriously, and we want you to come to these hearings with ideas,” she said.

Jones said she wants to understand what’s working in accreditation, as well as areas “where we have created a behemoth monstrosity of bureaucracy that is unnecessary.”

“Accreditation has to change to allow institutions to be more nimble,” said Jones. Not everyone needs a degree to get the job they want, and non-degree-level credentials can play an important role in training the work force. But to allow innovation in this space, “we have to make some policy changes in thinking about how we distribute aid, how we count outcomes, how we follow a student’s progress,” said Jones.

Ideas that push the boundaries of accreditation are welcomed, even if this entails some risk (which would be carefully monitored), said Jones. She suggested that some federal funding might be put toward such experiments, so that participants don’t have to worry about paying “millions of dollars back” if an experiment doesn’t work out.

“I always want to be careful to direct our funding to the best ideas,” said Jones. “But not everything is going to work, that’s just how it goes.”

Referencing EQUIP — an ongoing experiment begun during the Obama years to give nontraditional providers access to federal financial aid (which has somewhat stalled) — Jones said she expects there will be insights that the department can glean from the program, but stressed “we have to come up with other ideas.”

Among other things, the EQUIP program represents a departure from the 50 percent rule, which says that no more than half of a degree program can be delivered by a nonaccredited provider. But EQUIP was just “dipping a toe in the water,” said Jones.

Department officials keep hearing two concerns about accreditation, Jones said. The first issue is that community colleges “want to do something innovative” with non-degree-level credentials but can “only do it on the noncredit side because of accreditation,” said Jones. The second is that accreditors are “really into credential inflation,” said Jones.

“We don’t normally hear of [credential inflation] being driven by employers,” said Jones. Taking a credential and turning it into a master’s degree, “just because a bunch of people teaching the program want it to be,” isn’t necessarily what employers and employees want, she said.

What employers want is a key concern for Jones. She spoke favorably about apprenticeships during the UPCEA session, adding that many employers have been reliant on degrees that are “maybe not appropriate or necessary” for “too long,” said Jones.

“We have millennials who are very interested in new ways of thinking, we have parents who are worried about costs and we have lots of jobs in the sector that have not been historically reliant on the four-year degree,” said Jones. “So here’s our moment.”

Assessment and Accountability
Editorial Tags: 
Image Caption: 
Diane Auer Jones
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 
Trending: 

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Education is preparing to take a “deep dive” into accreditation, Diane Auer Jones, a special adviser to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, said Tuesday.

Speaking at a University Professional and Continuing Education Association conference, Jones said that current regulations are hampering colleges’ efforts to offer non-degree-level credentials.

“What we hear from both faculty and employers is that [accreditation] is always going to hold innovation back,” said Jones.

The department announced earlier this year that it is planning to amend federal rules related to accrediting agencies and accreditation procedures through negotiated rule making.

Notice of the public hearings for this process will come out in the Federal Register this summer, said Jones. “We take these public hearings very seriously, and we want you to come to these hearings with ideas,” she said.

Jones said she wants to understand what’s working in accreditation, as well as areas “where we have created a behemoth monstrosity of bureaucracy that is unnecessary.”

“Accreditation has to change to allow institutions to be more nimble,” said Jones. Not everyone needs a degree to get the job they want, and non-degree-level credentials can play an important role in training the work force. But to allow innovation in this space, “we have to make some policy changes in thinking about how we distribute aid, how we count outcomes, how we follow a student’s progress,” said Jones.

Ideas that push the boundaries of accreditation are welcomed, even if this entails some risk (which would be carefully monitored), said Jones. She suggested that some federal funding might be put toward such experiments, so that participants don't have to worry about paying "millions of dollars back" if an experiment doesn’t work out.

“I always want to be careful to direct our funding to the best ideas,” said Jones. “But not everything is going to work, that’s just how it goes.”

Referencing EQUIP -- an ongoing experiment begun during the Obama years to give nontraditional providers access to federal financial aid (which has somewhat stalled) -- Jones said she expects there will be insights that the department can glean from the program, but stressed “we have to come up with other ideas.”

Among other things, the EQUIP program represents a departure from the 50 percent rule, which says that no more than half of a degree program can be delivered by a nonaccredited provider. But EQUIP was just “dipping a toe in the water,” said Jones.

Department officials keep hearing two concerns about accreditation, Jones said. The first issue is that community colleges “want to do something innovative” with non-degree-level credentials but can “only do it on the noncredit side because of accreditation,” said Jones. The second is that accreditors are “really into credential inflation,” said Jones.

“We don’t normally hear of [credential inflation] being driven by employers,” said Jones. Taking a credential and turning it into a master’s degree, “just because a bunch of people teaching the program want it to be,” isn’t necessarily what employers and employees want, she said.

What employers want is a key concern for Jones. She spoke favorably about apprenticeships during the UPCEA session, adding that many employers have been reliant on degrees that are “maybe not appropriate or necessary” for “too long,” said Jones.

“We have millennials who are very interested in new ways of thinking, we have parents who are worried about costs and we have lots of jobs in the sector that have not been historically reliant on the four-year degree,” said Jones. “So here’s our moment.”

Assessment and Accountability
Editorial Tags: 
Image Caption: 
Diane Auer Jones
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 

New Stanford Prison Experiment revelations question findings

Since its inception nearly 47 years ago, the Stanford Prison Experiment has become a kind of grim psychological touchstone, an object lesson in humans’ hidden ability to act sadistically — or submissively — as social conditions permit.

Along with Yale University researcher Stanley Milgram’s 1960s experiments on human cruelty, the August 1971 experiment has captured Americans’ imaginations for nearly half a century. It is a long-standing staple of psychology and social science textbooks and has been invoked to explain horrors as wide-ranging as the Holocaust, the My Lai massacre and the Abu Ghraib prisoner-torture scandal.

But new interviews with participants and reconsideration of archival records are shedding new light on the experiment, questioning a few of its bedrock assumptions about human behavior.

Perhaps most significantly, one of the “prisoners” now says his actions have long been misunderstood.

For the experiment, Stanford University psychology professor Philip Zimbardo built a three-cell mock “Stanford County Jail” in the basement of the university’s psychology building. His researchers housed nine “prisoners” and hired nine “guards,” all of whom had answered a classified ad looking for participants for a two-week study on prison life.

But just 36 hours into the experiment, prisoner Douglas Korpi found himself in lockdown, sealed into a closet repurposed as a makeshift solitary confinement room. He soon experienced what has been described as a mental breakdown.

It was one of the most visceral moments from the experiment, and it was caught on audiotape, with Korpi screaming, “I’m so fucked-up inside. I feel really fucked-up inside. You don’t know — I gotta go, to a doctor. Anything! I mean, Jesus Christ, I’m burning up inside, don’t you know? I can’t stay in there. I’m fucked-up! I don’t know how to explain it. I’m all fucked-up inside! And I want out! And I want out now!

Korpi now says his episode was less a psychotic break than a manipulation so he could go home and study.

“Anybody who is a clinician would know that I was faking,” he told author Ben Blum in a rare interview last year, part of a lengthy feature in the online publication Medium. Now a forensic psychologist in Oakland, Korpi characterized his outburst as “more hysterical than psychotic.”

Actually, he screamed not because of abusive guards but because he was worried about not getting access to textbooks during his “prison” stay so he could cram for the Graduate Record Examination.

Korpi said he took the $15-per-day job as a prisoner because he thought he’d have time “to sit around by myself and study for my GREs.” The prison study, scheduled to last two weeks, lasted only six days after Zimbardo’s girlfriend, Christina Maslach (now his wife of many years), persuaded him to shut it down.

But when Korpi, who was scheduled to take the GRE just after the study concluded, asked for his books, guards refused. After unsuccessfully faking a stomachache, he faked the breakdown.

The admission is similar to one he gave the Los Angeles Times in 2004, when he said, “Zimbardo thought I was losing it.”

Looking back on the experience, he told Blum he actually enjoyed himself most of the time, including during a brief prisoner “rebellion.”

“The rebellion was fun,” he said. “There were no repercussions. We knew [the guards] couldn’t hurt us, they couldn’t hit us. They were white college kids just like us, so it was a very safe situation.”

He was, however, shocked that he couldn’t leave of his own free will, remembering that the guards were “really escalating the game by saying that I can’t leave. They’re stepping to a new level. I was just like, ‘Oh my God.’”

In an interview, Zimbardo told Blum that the subjects “really believed they can’t get out,” but said they’d signed informed-consent forms that included an explicit “safe” phrase: “I quit the experiment.” Saying the phrase, he said, would earn an exit from the experiment.

Blum notes that the forms, dated August 1971 and available online at Zimbardo’s website, contain no mention of the phrase “I quit the experiment.” They do, however, consent to “a loss of privacy,” among other conditions. The forms note that subjects were expected to participate “for the full duration of the study,” and that they’d only be released for reasons of health “deemed adequate by the medical advisers to the research project or for other reasons deemed appropriate” by Zimbardo.

Blum’s revelations come weeks after the release of Story of a Lie, a new book by French academic and filmmaker Thibault Le Texier, who examined newly released documents from Zimbardo’s Stanford archives. He calls the experiment “one of the greatest scientific deceptions of the 20th century.”

In a tweet posted last week, University of California, Davis, psychology professor Simine Vazire wrote, “We must stop celebrating this work. It’s anti-scientific. Get it out of textbooks.”

In a statement issued Monday, Howard Kurtzman, acting executive director for science at American Psychological Association, said Blum’s Medium article “raises important questions about the Stanford Prison Experiment, many of which have been raised before.” He gave credit to Zimbardo for speaking to Blum and said the researcher “has responded to these questions over the years.”

Psychology textbook authors who address the study “would be well advised to place it in context, including the controversies around its methods and what it teaches us about the importance of institutional review boards, peer review and replicability,” Kurtzman said.

Dave Eshelman, a Stanford “guard” who earned the nickname John Wayne for his imaginative cruelty, told Blum he saw the experiment “as a kind of an improv exercise” that he wanted to perfect “by creating this despicable guard persona.” He has long maintained that he developed the cruel character after watching the movie Cool Hand Luke.

Eshelman said he tapped into his own experiences in a brutal fraternity hazing a few months earlier. Nearly half a century later, he recalled feeling “like I had accomplished something good because I had contributed in some way to the understanding of human nature.”

In a 2011 interview published in the Stanford alumni magazine, Eshelman said, “I set out with a definite plan in mind, to try to force the action, force something to happen, so that the researchers would have something to work with. After all, what could they possibly learn from guys sitting around like it was a country club?”

In a way, Eshelman said, he was running his own experiment within an experiment, each day trying to do something “more outrageous” than the day before. He often wondered “how much abuse will these people take before they say, ‘knock it off’? But the other guards didn’t stop me. They seemed to join in. They were taking my lead. Not a single guard said, ‘I don’t think we should do this.’”

Another guard, John Mark, told the alumni magazine that Zimbardo “went out of his way to create tension,” with strategies like forced sleep deprivation. He said Zimbardo “knew what he wanted and then tried to shape the experiment — by how it was constructed, and how it played out — to fit the conclusion that he had already worked out.”

Mark said Zimbardo wanted to show that middle-class young people “will turn on each other just because they’re given a role and given power.” But he said that hypothesis was “a real stretch. I don’t think the actual events match up with the bold headline. I never did, and I haven’t changed my opinion.”

Zimbardo, who would later testify about human behavior in the wake of the bloody 1971 Attica Prison uprising in upstate New York, did not immediately respond to a request for an interview. Nor did Craig W. Haney, a psychology professor at UC Santa Cruz who was a graduate student of Zimbardo’s in 1971 and a principal researcher on the prison experiment.

Haney has said he and his fellow researchers “weren’t sure anything was going to happen” when the experiment began. “I remember at one point asking, ‘What if they just sit around playing guitar for two weeks? What the hell are we going to do then?’”

Speaking to the alumni magazine in 2011, he said the experiment’s most enduring finding may be how quickly “we get used to things that are shocking one day and a week later become matter-of-fact.”

He recalled that while preparing to move the prisoners, researchers realized that the subjects would figure out they were in the Stanford psychology building, not in an actual prison. So they put paper bags over their heads. “The first time I saw that, it was shocking,” Haney recalled. “By the next day we’re putting bags on their heads and not thinking about it. That happens all the time in real correctional facilities.”

Haney said the experiment showed him the effects of dehumanization on incarcerated people.

“I try to talk to prisoners about what their lives are really like, and I don’t think I would have come to that kind of empathy had I not seen what I saw at Stanford,” he said. “If someone had said that in six days you can take 10 healthy college kids, in good health and at the peak of resilience, and break them down by subjecting them to things that are commonplace and relatively mild by the standards of real prisons — I’m not sure I would have believed it if I hadn’t seen it happen.”

Blum’s new interviews are only the latest to take a magnifying glass to Zimbardo’s research. In 2001, British researchers who recreated the experiment suggested that guards acted tyrannically not because of the “toxic combination of groups and power,” but because of something more complex.

The turning point in Zimbardo’s experiment, they maintained, was when he stepped in as “prison superintendent” and told prisoners they couldn’t leave the study. Researchers Stephen Reicher and S. Alexander Haslam said this revelation disoriented the prisoners, who “ceased to support each other against the guards.” The tight group collapsed, allowing “tyrannical guards to prevail.”

In their modified re-enactment, dubbed the BBC Prison Study, prisoners actually challenged the guards’ authority, leading to a collapse of the prisoner-guard system. The participants then decided to continue the experiment as a “self-governing and self-disciplining ‘commune,’” but this too fell apart a day later, paving the way for the emergence of “a new tyranny” in the little lockup. In one key moment, a participant looked into the lens of a video camera and told researchers, “We’re having a military takeover of the regime that’s been put in place yesterday.” He demanded “full military uniforms” and vowed, “We’re going to run this prison the way it should have been run from day one.”

The researchers concluded that when people can’t create a social system that works, they’ll “more readily accept extreme solutions proposed by others” and allow an authoritarian ideology to take hold.

More recently, in 2007, Western Kentucky University psychologists Thomas Carnahan and Sam McFarland placed ads in several university newspapers, offering to pay volunteers for a “psychological study of prison life,” as Zimbardo’s ad had in 1971. They also invited another group to participate simply in a “psychological study,” without any mention of prison life.

Then they tested the respondents and found that those who replied to the “prison life” ad scored higher on measures of authoritarianism, narcissism, Machiavellianism, social dominance and “abuse-related dispositions of aggressiveness.” They also scored lower on measures of empathy and altruism, suggesting that the Stanford subjects may have showed up in August 1971 with traits of cruelty that not all of us necessarily possess.

“I’m a believer that the situation can lead people to do cruel things,” McFarland said in an interview. But he said a kind of selection bias may have played a part in the Stanford results. For one thing, Zimbardo openly sought subjects for a two-week, immersive experiment on prison life. “It just seems intuitively strong to me that some people would be more disposed to volunteer for such an experiment than would others,” he said.

McFarland, now retired, got the opportunity in 2006 to interview Sergeant Joseph Darby, the former U.S. Army reservist who blew the whistle on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and who has publicly criticized U.S. military leadership at the facility. Asked by McFarland if most servicemen and women would have tortured and humiliated prisoners if they’d been stationed at Abu Ghraib, Darby flatly said: No.

“I could have taken any seven other soldiers from that unit and put them in the same situation and they would have acted honorably and professionally and performed their duties,” he said, according to an audio recording of the interview.

Eshelman, the guard who modeled his behavior on Cool Hand Luke, said he later regretted the mental abuse he inflicted. But when revelations about Abu Ghraib came to light, he said, his first reaction was, “This is so familiar to me. I knew exactly what was going on. I could picture myself in the middle of that and watching it spin out of control. When you have little or no supervision as to what you’re doing, and no one steps in and says, ‘Hey, you can’t do this,’ things just keep escalating.”

Editorial Tags: 
Image Source: 
Stanford University
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 
Trending: 
College: 

Since its inception nearly 47 years ago, the Stanford Prison Experiment has become a kind of grim psychological touchstone, an object lesson in humans' hidden ability to act sadistically -- or submissively -- as social conditions permit.

Along with Yale University researcher Stanley Milgram’s 1960s experiments on human cruelty, the August 1971 experiment has captured Americans’ imaginations for nearly half a century. It is a long-standing staple of psychology and social science textbooks and has been invoked to explain horrors as wide-ranging as the Holocaust, the My Lai massacre and the Abu Ghraib prisoner-torture scandal.

But new interviews with participants and reconsideration of archival records are shedding new light on the experiment, questioning a few of its bedrock assumptions about human behavior.

Perhaps most significantly, one of the “prisoners” now says his actions have long been misunderstood.

For the experiment, Stanford University psychology professor Philip Zimbardo built a three-cell mock “Stanford County Jail” in the basement of the university’s psychology building. His researchers housed nine “prisoners” and hired nine “guards,” all of whom had answered a classified ad looking for participants for a two-week study on prison life.

But just 36 hours into the experiment, prisoner Douglas Korpi found himself in lockdown, sealed into a closet repurposed as a makeshift solitary confinement room. He soon experienced what has been described as a mental breakdown.

It was one of the most visceral moments from the experiment, and it was caught on audiotape, with Korpi screaming, “I'm so fucked-up inside. I feel really fucked-up inside. You don't know -- I gotta go, to a doctor. Anything! I mean, Jesus Christ, I’m burning up inside, don’t you know? I can't stay in there. I'm fucked-up! I don't know how to explain it. I'm all fucked-up inside! And I want out! And I want out now!

Korpi now says his episode was less a psychotic break than a manipulation so he could go home and study.

“Anybody who is a clinician would know that I was faking,” he told author Ben Blum in a rare interview last year, part of a lengthy feature in the online publication Medium. Now a forensic psychologist in Oakland, Korpi characterized his outburst as “more hysterical than psychotic.”

Actually, he screamed not because of abusive guards but because he was worried about not getting access to textbooks during his “prison” stay so he could cram for the Graduate Record Examination.

Korpi said he took the $15-per-day job as a prisoner because he thought he’d have time “to sit around by myself and study for my GREs.” The prison study, scheduled to last two weeks, lasted only six days after Zimbardo’s girlfriend, Christina Maslach (now his wife of many years), persuaded him to shut it down.

But when Korpi, who was scheduled to take the GRE just after the study concluded, asked for his books, guards refused. After unsuccessfully faking a stomachache, he faked the breakdown.

The admission is similar to one he gave the Los Angeles Times in 2004, when he said, "Zimbardo thought I was losing it."

Looking back on the experience, he told Blum he actually enjoyed himself most of the time, including during a brief prisoner “rebellion.”

“The rebellion was fun,” he said. “There were no repercussions. We knew [the guards] couldn’t hurt us, they couldn’t hit us. They were white college kids just like us, so it was a very safe situation.”

He was, however, shocked that he couldn’t leave of his own free will, remembering that the guards were “really escalating the game by saying that I can’t leave. They’re stepping to a new level. I was just like, ‘Oh my God.’”

In an interview, Zimbardo told Blum that the subjects “really believed they can’t get out,” but said they’d signed informed-consent forms that included an explicit “safe” phrase: “I quit the experiment.” Saying the phrase, he said, would earn an exit from the experiment.

Blum notes that the forms, dated August 1971 and available online at Zimbardo’s website, contain no mention of the phrase “I quit the experiment.” They do, however, consent to “a loss of privacy,” among other conditions. The forms note that subjects were expected to participate “for the full duration of the study,” and that they’d only be released for reasons of health “deemed adequate by the medical advisers to the research project or for other reasons deemed appropriate” by Zimbardo.

Blum’s revelations come weeks after the release of Story of a Lie, a new book by French academic and filmmaker Thibault Le Texier, who examined newly released documents from Zimbardo’s Stanford archives. He calls the experiment “one of the greatest scientific deceptions of the 20th century.”

In a tweet posted last week, University of California, Davis, psychology professor Simine Vazire wrote, “We must stop celebrating this work. It’s anti-scientific. Get it out of textbooks.”

In a statement issued Monday, Howard Kurtzman, acting executive director for science at American Psychological Association, said Blum’s Medium article “raises important questions about the Stanford Prison Experiment, many of which have been raised before.” He gave credit to Zimbardo for speaking to Blum and said the researcher “has responded to these questions over the years.”

Psychology textbook authors who address the study “would be well advised to place it in context, including the controversies around its methods and what it teaches us about the importance of institutional review boards, peer review and replicability,” Kurtzman said.

Dave Eshelman, a Stanford “guard” who earned the nickname John Wayne for his imaginative cruelty, told Blum he saw the experiment “as a kind of an improv exercise” that he wanted to perfect “by creating this despicable guard persona.” He has long maintained that he developed the cruel character after watching the movie Cool Hand Luke.

Eshelman said he tapped into his own experiences in a brutal fraternity hazing a few months earlier. Nearly half a century later, he recalled feeling “like I had accomplished something good because I had contributed in some way to the understanding of human nature.”

In a 2011 interview published in the Stanford alumni magazine, Eshelman said, “I set out with a definite plan in mind, to try to force the action, force something to happen, so that the researchers would have something to work with. After all, what could they possibly learn from guys sitting around like it was a country club?”

In a way, Eshelman said, he was running his own experiment within an experiment, each day trying to do something “more outrageous” than the day before. He often wondered “how much abuse will these people take before they say, ‘knock it off’? But the other guards didn't stop me. They seemed to join in. They were taking my lead. Not a single guard said, ‘I don't think we should do this.’”

Another guard, John Mark, told the alumni magazine that Zimbardo “went out of his way to create tension,” with strategies like forced sleep deprivation. He said Zimbardo “knew what he wanted and then tried to shape the experiment -- by how it was constructed, and how it played out -- to fit the conclusion that he had already worked out.”

Mark said Zimbardo wanted to show that middle-class young people “will turn on each other just because they're given a role and given power.” But he said that hypothesis was “a real stretch. I don't think the actual events match up with the bold headline. I never did, and I haven't changed my opinion.”

Zimbardo, who would later testify about human behavior in the wake of the bloody 1971 Attica Prison uprising in upstate New York, did not immediately respond to a request for an interview. Nor did Craig W. Haney, a psychology professor at UC Santa Cruz who was a graduate student of Zimbardo's in 1971 and a principal researcher on the prison experiment.

Haney has said he and his fellow researchers “weren't sure anything was going to happen” when the experiment began. “I remember at one point asking, ‘What if they just sit around playing guitar for two weeks? What the hell are we going to do then?’”

Speaking to the alumni magazine in 2011, he said the experiment’s most enduring finding may be how quickly “we get used to things that are shocking one day and a week later become matter-of-fact.”

He recalled that while preparing to move the prisoners, researchers realized that the subjects would figure out they were in the Stanford psychology building, not in an actual prison. So they put paper bags over their heads. “The first time I saw that, it was shocking,” Haney recalled. “By the next day we're putting bags on their heads and not thinking about it. That happens all the time in real correctional facilities.”

Haney said the experiment showed him the effects of dehumanization on incarcerated people.

“I try to talk to prisoners about what their lives are really like, and I don't think I would have come to that kind of empathy had I not seen what I saw at Stanford,” he said. “If someone had said that in six days you can take 10 healthy college kids, in good health and at the peak of resilience, and break them down by subjecting them to things that are commonplace and relatively mild by the standards of real prisons -- I'm not sure I would have believed it if I hadn't seen it happen.”

Blum’s new interviews are only the latest to take a magnifying glass to Zimbardo’s research. In 2001, British researchers who recreated the experiment suggested that guards acted tyrannically not because of the “toxic combination of groups and power,” but because of something more complex.

The turning point in Zimbardo’s experiment, they maintained, was when he stepped in as “prison superintendent” and told prisoners they couldn’t leave the study. Researchers Stephen Reicher and S. Alexander Haslam said this revelation disoriented the prisoners, who “ceased to support each other against the guards.” The tight group collapsed, allowing “tyrannical guards to prevail.”

In their modified re-enactment, dubbed the BBC Prison Study, prisoners actually challenged the guards’ authority, leading to a collapse of the prisoner-guard system. The participants then decided to continue the experiment as a “self-governing and self-disciplining ‘commune,’” but this too fell apart a day later, paving the way for the emergence of “a new tyranny” in the little lockup. In one key moment, a participant looked into the lens of a video camera and told researchers, “We’re having a military takeover of the regime that’s been put in place yesterday.” He demanded “full military uniforms” and vowed, “We’re going to run this prison the way it should have been run from day one.”

The researchers concluded that when people can’t create a social system that works, they’ll “more readily accept extreme solutions proposed by others” and allow an authoritarian ideology to take hold.

More recently, in 2007, Western Kentucky University psychologists Thomas Carnahan and Sam McFarland placed ads in several university newspapers, offering to pay volunteers for a “psychological study of prison life,” as Zimbardo’s ad had in 1971. They also invited another group to participate simply in a “psychological study,” without any mention of prison life.

Then they tested the respondents and found that those who replied to the “prison life” ad scored higher on measures of authoritarianism, narcissism, Machiavellianism, social dominance and “abuse-related dispositions of aggressiveness.” They also scored lower on measures of empathy and altruism, suggesting that the Stanford subjects may have showed up in August 1971 with traits of cruelty that not all of us necessarily possess.

“I’m a believer that the situation can lead people to do cruel things,” McFarland said in an interview. But he said a kind of selection bias may have played a part in the Stanford results. For one thing, Zimbardo openly sought subjects for a two-week, immersive experiment on prison life. “It just seems intuitively strong to me that some people would be more disposed to volunteer for such an experiment than would others,” he said.

McFarland, now retired, got the opportunity in 2006 to interview Sergeant Joseph Darby, the former U.S. Army reservist who blew the whistle on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and who has publicly criticized U.S. military leadership at the facility. Asked by McFarland if most servicemen and women would have tortured and humiliated prisoners if they’d been stationed at Abu Ghraib, Darby flatly said: No.

“I could have taken any seven other soldiers from that unit and put them in the same situation and they would have acted honorably and professionally and performed their duties,” he said, according to an audio recording of the interview.

Eshelman, the guard who modeled his behavior on Cool Hand Luke, said he later regretted the mental abuse he inflicted. But when revelations about Abu Ghraib came to light, he said, his first reaction was, “This is so familiar to me. I knew exactly what was going on. I could picture myself in the middle of that and watching it spin out of control. When you have little or no supervision as to what you're doing, and no one steps in and says, ‘Hey, you can't do this,’ things just keep escalating.”

Editorial Tags: 
Image Source: 
Stanford University
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 

Some third-party pathway partnerships have ended

Because many of the third-party pathway programs are young — and because some are for quite long terms (e.g., 30 years in the case of the INTO partnerships) — many have not come up for renewal yet. A few have.

Navitas reported in 2015, for example, that it had renewed contracts for pathway programs at the University of Massachusetts campuses at Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell, all of which were first signed in 2010. The Dartmouth and Lowell campuses signed for an additional five years, with the possibility of another five-year extension, while the Boston campus signed on with Navitas for a full 10-year term.

On the other hand, a handful of pathway partnerships have ended.

In 2015, Navitas and Western Kentucky University parted ways, a move Navitas described in a press release as a “result of a review of operations … which has identified business units that are non-performing or have limited prospects for long-term success.” For their part, officials at WKU said at the time that the university had enhanced its own international recruitment capabilities, according to an article in the Bowling Green Daily News.

Study Group ended its relationship with the Universities of Maine and Southern Maine in 2016. Neither Study Group nor Maine shared reasons for the closure, other than to say it was a mutual decision, but a July 2014 article in the Bangor Daily News reported that the partnership fell short of its first-year enrollment target, having enrolled 16 students at the University of Maine, and one student at the University of Southern Maine, in the program’s first year.

“It was genuinely one of those situations — it was an entirely mutual decision to part company. Around these partnerships you are going to occasionally get situations where the decision makers of the university don’t remain aligned with a particular strategic initiative. You can have that because of personnel changes,” said David Leigh, Study Group’s CEO.

Widener University also ended its pathway relationship with Study Group, though Study Group continues to contract with Widener to recruit students for direct entry into the institution. Leigh said the university did not adapt to recently updated changes to student visa rules governing pathway programs and so Study Group was not able to continue to operate there.

A spokeswoman for Widener, Mary Allen, said via email that Widener revised its recruitment strategies in recent years. “Widener never saw the enrollment from Study Group that was initially projected, so the partnership was not financially sustainable,” Allen said.

The University of Utah ended its previous pathway relationship with Kaplan but is now set to open a new pathway program with Shorelight.

“With our previous pathway provider, it was a program that was set up on our campus, which … didn’t really connect with other institutional entities and very much operated independently, and there just wasn’t the kind of oversight and involvement from the university that we would have liked, so we feel that in this new partnership we do have that,” said Sabine C. Klahr, the acting chief global officer at Utah.

Klahr also said that with the Kaplan partnership, “we felt we weren’t necessarily getting the quality of students that we expected to get … I should add, though, that even though that was the case with our previous partnership, we tracked the students who we did retain and who completed their degrees here. They ended up doing quite well. The average GPA was around 3.0. It wasn’t significantly different from our domestic student population. I think long-term those students did well in general.”

A spokesman for Kaplan declined a request for an interview.

Global
Foreign Students
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 
Trending: 

Because many of the third-party pathway programs are young -- and because some are for quite long terms (e.g., 30 years in the case of the INTO partnerships) -- many have not come up for renewal yet. A few have.

Navitas reported in 2015, for example, that it had renewed contracts for pathway programs at the University of Massachusetts campuses at Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell, all of which were first signed in 2010. The Dartmouth and Lowell campuses signed for an additional five years, with the possibility of another five-year extension, while the Boston campus signed on with Navitas for a full 10-year term.

On the other hand, a handful of pathway partnerships have ended.

In 2015, Navitas and Western Kentucky University parted ways, a move Navitas described in a press release as a “result of a review of operations … which has identified business units that are non-performing or have limited prospects for long-term success.” For their part, officials at WKU said at the time that the university had enhanced its own international recruitment capabilities, according to an article in the Bowling Green Daily News.

Study Group ended its relationship with the Universities of Maine and Southern Maine in 2016. Neither Study Group nor Maine shared reasons for the closure, other than to say it was a mutual decision, but a July 2014 article in the Bangor Daily News reported that the partnership fell short of its first-year enrollment target, having enrolled 16 students at the University of Maine, and one student at the University of Southern Maine, in the program’s first year.

"It was genuinely one of those situations -- it was an entirely mutual decision to part company. Around these partnerships you are going to occasionally get situations where the decision makers of the university don’t remain aligned with a particular strategic initiative. You can have that because of personnel changes," said David Leigh, Study Group's CEO.

Widener University also ended its pathway relationship with Study Group, though Study Group continues to contract with Widener to recruit students for direct entry into the institution. Leigh said the university did not adapt to recently updated changes to student visa rules governing pathway programs and so Study Group was not able to continue to operate there.

A spokeswoman for Widener, Mary Allen, said via email that Widener revised its recruitment strategies in recent years. "Widener never saw the enrollment from Study Group that was initially projected, so the partnership was not financially sustainable," Allen said.

The University of Utah ended its previous pathway relationship with Kaplan but is now set to open a new pathway program with Shorelight.

“With our previous pathway provider, it was a program that was set up on our campus, which … didn't really connect with other institutional entities and very much operated independently, and there just wasn't the kind of oversight and involvement from the university that we would have liked, so we feel that in this new partnership we do have that,” said Sabine C. Klahr, the acting chief global officer at Utah.

Klahr also said that with the Kaplan partnership, “we felt we weren’t necessarily getting the quality of students that we expected to get … I should add, though, that even though that was the case with our previous partnership, we tracked the students who we did retain and who completed their degrees here. They ended up doing quite well. The average GPA was around 3.0. It wasn’t significantly different from our domestic student population. I think long-term those students did well in general.”

A spokesman for Kaplan declined a request for an interview.

Global
Foreign Students
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 

Colleges start new academic programs

Editorial Tags: 
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 
Trending: 
Editorial Tags: 
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 

Cynthia Nixon taps free college debates with plans to change Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship

A New York primary election that has laid bare tensions between different wings of the Democratic Party has also exposed debates within the free college movement and advocates focused on degree completion.

Cynthia Nixon, who is attempting to mount a left-wing primary challenge to two-term incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo, last week rolled out an education plan proposing significant changes affecting Cuomo’s signature higher ed accomplishment, the free public college tuition program known as the Excelsior Scholarship. Compared to Excelsior, Nixon’s plan would focus on a group of students from lower-income backgrounds who may not advance as quickly toward graduation.

The Excelsior Scholarship was designed with several restrictions “to exclude students in order to reduce program costs,” Nixon’s plan argues. Excelsior generally requires students to complete 30 credits per year and earn an associate degree in two years or a bachelor’s degree in four years. It requires recipients to live and work in New York after college for the same number of years they received scholarships or have their scholarships convert into loans. And it is structured as a last-dollar program, paying tuition costs after other sources of funding, like the federal Pell Grant or New York’s Tuition Assistance Program, have been taken into account.

Nixon calls for a requirement that students earn 24 credits per academic year, not 30. She would count remedial courses toward the credit requirement, something the Excelsior Scholarship does not do. Plus, she would do away with residency requirements and says she backs a first-dollar program that would free Pell Grants for other expenses like housing and books.

“Providing a first dollar program is very important if New York is going to be serious about expanding access to higher education and seeing larger numbers of low income students, students of color and immigrant students graduate from college,” Nixon’s plan says.

Her plan also calls for making college free for all students who would qualify for New York’s existing Tuition Assistance Program, which has a family income limit of $80,000. It’s a substantially lower income cutoff than Excelsior, which is being phased in over three years. Excelsior covered students from families with annual incomes of up to $100,000 in its first year. It will cover families making $110,000 starting this fall and $125,000 in the fall of 2019 and afterward.

Nixon’s proposed changes would open up free tuition to 170,000 new students at the State University of New York and City University of New York systems, the Nixon campaign estimates. It would cost $600 million per year.

Nixon’s education plan would pair the free tuition changes with spending to support graduation and additional funding for SUNY and CUNY. The total price tag for the higher ed initiatives would be more than $1.6 billion. Nixon proposes funding her plan and other new education spending with a tax package that would increase taxes on corporations and New Yorkers earning more than $300,000.

Cuomo’s camp maintains that the state’s existing Tuition Assistance Program already accomplishes many of the goals laid out in Nixon’s plan. TAP is a first-dollar program requiring students to take 12 credits toward a degree program per semester. TAP and other programs mean New York supports its at-risk and poorest college students, Cuomo’s allies argue.

About 45,000 students have received free tuition after applying for the Excelsior Scholarship, they said. Roughly 23,000 received Excelsior funding, and 22,000 applied for Excelsior but were steered into TAP, where they received free tuition.

A spokeswoman in the governor’s office called Nixon “wrong on the facts on every issue she discusses.” The Nixon campaign responded that TAP provides full tuition funding for only a small percentage of recipients and that Nixon wants to expand program access to immigrants. In 2016-17, the average TAP recipient received $3,320 from the program, according to the state Higher Education Services Corporation.

Meanwhile, a group representing New York’s private colleges and universities is unhappy with Nixon’s higher ed plans.

“It is unfortunate that Cynthia Nixon did not do her homework before releasing her plan for education in New York,” said Mary Beth Labate, president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, in a statement. “Her ‘Educate NY’ plan ignores the 300,000 New Yorkers who choose to pursue higher education at a private, not-for-profit college or university in our state. Two-thirds of those students come from families that earn less than $125,000 annually.”

Nixon’s plan would serve students in private colleges by expanding the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program, according to a Nixon campaign spokeswoman. The program makes competitive grants to independent institutions for students who are academically and economically disadvantaged.

The back-and-forth between the campaigns shouldn’t obscure the issues Nixon tapped into that are being debated by free-tuition advocates across the country: What restrictions are reasonable to build into programs offering free public college tuition, and which ones can be used to steer students to make desirable choices?

Free-tuition programs — called Promise programs — vary significantly in design across the country, said Martha J. Kanter, a former under secretary of education in the Obama administration who is now director of the College Promise Campaign, a group advocating for making the first two years of college free.

Some programs limit enrollment to full-time students who just came from high school and are making progress toward a college degree. Others are focused on meeting workplace needs in high-demand areas for adults who are returning to complete a degree.

“This is an early stage,” Kanter said. “There’s no cookie-cutter state policy, so every state is doing what’s best for their residents.”

New York is a highly visible example of a state where politicians are debating changes to free college programs recently put in place. It’s not the only one. A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Tennessee rejected changes in April that Republican governor Bill Haslam wanted to make to the well-known Tennessee Promise program. Haslam wanted to require aid recipients to finish 30 credits per year or risk losing some of their scholarships. The Tennessee Promise currently has a requirement of 12 credit hours per semester.

Advocates such as Complete College America, which has backed ideas like 15 to Finish, say completing 15 credits a semester, or 30 credits per year, keeps students on track to graduate on time, increasing the likelihood they will complete degrees. Critics retort that strict credit requirements prevent working students or those with family responsibilities from benefiting from free-tuition programs.

“It’s raising an important issue,” Kanter said. “What do we do with people who have work and family responsibilities?”

Excelsior has attempted to thread the needle between the two positions by blending hard-line credit requirements with wiggle room for extenuating circumstances. Although it requires students to complete 30 credits per year, Excelsior’s regulations allow for repayment waivers and postponements for cases of hardship, and they allow students with disabilities to attend college part-time.

It’s far from the only solution. An April report from the College Promise Campaign and two other groups, Complete College America and Achieving the Dream, argued that institutions in promise programs serving part-time students should “provide a structured, part-time pathway that adds no more than one year to the students’ time to degree.” Among its recommendations, it said institutions should provide term-by-term degree or certificate maps with 20 to 24 credits per calendar year for students who are unable to attend full-time. Doing so would promote graduation within a year of a program’s published length, it said.

Nixon’s plan is also notable because it contains provisions likely to upset middle-income voters. An $80,000 income limit would mean some families who expected to qualify for free tuition under Cuomo’s program will in fact not be able to have their children attend college for free. Eliminating residency requirements may be popular with students who want to keep their postcollege options open, but it might not sit well with some voters who wonder why the state should pay to educate another state’s employees.

“These residency requirements are politically popular within states,” said Robert Kelchen, assistant professor in the department of education leadership, management and policy at Seton Hall University. Eliminating the requirements makes sense from a broad public policy perspective more than it makes sense from the perspective of a politician running for election, he added.

Nixon’s emphasis on a first-dollar program is unusual because first-dollar programs are expensive, Kelchen said.

“If a state wants to reduce student debt, it’s the way to go, but does this program really get more students into college?” Kelchen asked. “The price tag is fairly large, and I’d be curious what people think about whether that price tag is realistic.”

Time will tell whether Nixon’s education plans do anything to shake up a race that has not been competitive. Nixon trails Cuomo among Democrats by 35 points, 61 percent to 26 percent, according to a Siena College poll of likely voters that was released the same day as Nixon’s education plan.

The challenger’s strategy has been to run to the left of Cuomo, and her higher ed plans are largely consistent with that positioning. But it’s not clear the changes she proposes have widespread appeal even within the primary electorate.

“Suburban Democrats, they supported the governor’s Excelsior program,” said Steven Greenberg, a Siena College pollster. “A lot of suburban kids who are defined more as middle-class than poor have taken advantage of that benefit. So while it certainly plays to one audience, I’m not sure that it plays to all the audiences that are going to participate in the Democratic primary.”

Candidates’ proposals can linger even if they don’t win election, of course. Bernie Sanders’s backing gave the free college movement oxygen, even though the Vermont senator did not capture the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. In fact, Sanders was present when Cuomo unveiled his free college plans in 2017.

Still, those who watch New York politics aren’t expecting Nixon’s education plans to shake up the race.

“I’d be very surprised if that cut through the clutter,” Greenberg said of the plan.

Editorial Tags: 
Image Source: 
Courtesy Cynthia for New York
Image Caption: 
Cynthia Nixon
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 
Trending: 

A New York primary election that has laid bare tensions between different wings of the Democratic Party has also exposed debates within the free college movement and advocates focused on degree completion.

Cynthia Nixon, who is attempting to mount a left-wing primary challenge to two-term incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo, last week rolled out an education plan proposing significant changes affecting Cuomo’s signature higher ed accomplishment, the free public college tuition program known as the Excelsior Scholarship. Compared to Excelsior, Nixon’s plan would focus on a group of students from lower-income backgrounds who may not advance as quickly toward graduation.

The Excelsior Scholarship was designed with several restrictions “to exclude students in order to reduce program costs,” Nixon’s plan argues. Excelsior generally requires students to complete 30 credits per year and earn an associate degree in two years or a bachelor’s degree in four years. It requires recipients to live and work in New York after college for the same number of years they received scholarships or have their scholarships convert into loans. And it is structured as a last-dollar program, paying tuition costs after other sources of funding, like the federal Pell Grant or New York’s Tuition Assistance Program, have been taken into account.

Nixon calls for a requirement that students earn 24 credits per academic year, not 30. She would count remedial courses toward the credit requirement, something the Excelsior Scholarship does not do. Plus, she would do away with residency requirements and says she backs a first-dollar program that would free Pell Grants for other expenses like housing and books.

“Providing a first dollar program is very important if New York is going to be serious about expanding access to higher education and seeing larger numbers of low income students, students of color and immigrant students graduate from college,” Nixon’s plan says.

Her plan also calls for making college free for all students who would qualify for New York’s existing Tuition Assistance Program, which has a family income limit of $80,000. It’s a substantially lower income cutoff than Excelsior, which is being phased in over three years. Excelsior covered students from families with annual incomes of up to $100,000 in its first year. It will cover families making $110,000 starting this fall and $125,000 in the fall of 2019 and afterward.

Nixon's proposed changes would open up free tuition to 170,000 new students at the State University of New York and City University of New York systems, the Nixon campaign estimates. It would cost $600 million per year.

Nixon’s education plan would pair the free tuition changes with spending to support graduation and additional funding for SUNY and CUNY. The total price tag for the higher ed initiatives would be more than $1.6 billion. Nixon proposes funding her plan and other new education spending with a tax package that would increase taxes on corporations and New Yorkers earning more than $300,000.

Cuomo’s camp maintains that the state’s existing Tuition Assistance Program already accomplishes many of the goals laid out in Nixon’s plan. TAP is a first-dollar program requiring students to take 12 credits toward a degree program per semester. TAP and other programs mean New York supports its at-risk and poorest college students, Cuomo’s allies argue.

About 45,000 students have received free tuition after applying for the Excelsior Scholarship, they said. Roughly 23,000 received Excelsior funding, and 22,000 applied for Excelsior but were steered into TAP, where they received free tuition.

A spokeswoman in the governor’s office called Nixon “wrong on the facts on every issue she discusses.” The Nixon campaign responded that TAP provides full tuition funding for only a small percentage of recipients and that Nixon wants to expand program access to immigrants. In 2016-17, the average TAP recipient received $3,320 from the program, according to the state Higher Education Services Corporation.

Meanwhile, a group representing New York’s private colleges and universities is unhappy with Nixon’s higher ed plans.

“It is unfortunate that Cynthia Nixon did not do her homework before releasing her plan for education in New York,” said Mary Beth Labate, president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, in a statement. “Her ‘Educate NY’ plan ignores the 300,000 New Yorkers who choose to pursue higher education at a private, not-for-profit college or university in our state. Two-thirds of those students come from families that earn less than $125,000 annually.”

Nixon’s plan would serve students in private colleges by expanding the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program, according to a Nixon campaign spokeswoman. The program makes competitive grants to independent institutions for students who are academically and economically disadvantaged.

The back-and-forth between the campaigns shouldn’t obscure the issues Nixon tapped into that are being debated by free-tuition advocates across the country: What restrictions are reasonable to build into programs offering free public college tuition, and which ones can be used to steer students to make desirable choices?

Free-tuition programs -- called Promise programs -- vary significantly in design across the country, said Martha J. Kanter, a former under secretary of education in the Obama administration who is now director of the College Promise Campaign, a group advocating for making the first two years of college free.

Some programs limit enrollment to full-time students who just came from high school and are making progress toward a college degree. Others are focused on meeting workplace needs in high-demand areas for adults who are returning to complete a degree.

“This is an early stage,” Kanter said. “There’s no cookie-cutter state policy, so every state is doing what’s best for their residents.”

New York is a highly visible example of a state where politicians are debating changes to free college programs recently put in place. It’s not the only one. A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Tennessee rejected changes in April that Republican governor Bill Haslam wanted to make to the well-known Tennessee Promise program. Haslam wanted to require aid recipients to finish 30 credits per year or risk losing some of their scholarships. The Tennessee Promise currently has a requirement of 12 credit hours per semester.

Advocates such as Complete College America, which has backed ideas like 15 to Finish, say completing 15 credits a semester, or 30 credits per year, keeps students on track to graduate on time, increasing the likelihood they will complete degrees. Critics retort that strict credit requirements prevent working students or those with family responsibilities from benefiting from free-tuition programs.

“It’s raising an important issue,” Kanter said. “What do we do with people who have work and family responsibilities?”

Excelsior has attempted to thread the needle between the two positions by blending hard-line credit requirements with wiggle room for extenuating circumstances. Although it requires students to complete 30 credits per year, Excelsior’s regulations allow for repayment waivers and postponements for cases of hardship, and they allow students with disabilities to attend college part-time.

It’s far from the only solution. An April report from the College Promise Campaign and two other groups, Complete College America and Achieving the Dream, argued that institutions in promise programs serving part-time students should “provide a structured, part-time pathway that adds no more than one year to the students’ time to degree.” Among its recommendations, it said institutions should provide term-by-term degree or certificate maps with 20 to 24 credits per calendar year for students who are unable to attend full-time. Doing so would promote graduation within a year of a program’s published length, it said.

Nixon’s plan is also notable because it contains provisions likely to upset middle-income voters. An $80,000 income limit would mean some families who expected to qualify for free tuition under Cuomo’s program will in fact not be able to have their children attend college for free. Eliminating residency requirements may be popular with students who want to keep their postcollege options open, but it might not sit well with some voters who wonder why the state should pay to educate another state’s employees.

“These residency requirements are politically popular within states,” said Robert Kelchen, assistant professor in the department of education leadership, management and policy at Seton Hall University. Eliminating the requirements makes sense from a broad public policy perspective more than it makes sense from the perspective of a politician running for election, he added.

Nixon’s emphasis on a first-dollar program is unusual because first-dollar programs are expensive, Kelchen said.

“If a state wants to reduce student debt, it’s the way to go, but does this program really get more students into college?” Kelchen asked. “The price tag is fairly large, and I’d be curious what people think about whether that price tag is realistic.”

Time will tell whether Nixon’s education plans do anything to shake up a race that has not been competitive. Nixon trails Cuomo among Democrats by 35 points, 61 percent to 26 percent, according to a Siena College poll of likely voters that was released the same day as Nixon’s education plan.

The challenger’s strategy has been to run to the left of Cuomo, and her higher ed plans are largely consistent with that positioning. But it’s not clear the changes she proposes have widespread appeal even within the primary electorate.

“Suburban Democrats, they supported the governor’s Excelsior program,” said Steven Greenberg, a Siena College pollster. “A lot of suburban kids who are defined more as middle-class than poor have taken advantage of that benefit. So while it certainly plays to one audience, I’m not sure that it plays to all the audiences that are going to participate in the Democratic primary.”

Candidates’ proposals can linger even if they don’t win election, of course. Bernie Sanders’s backing gave the free college movement oxygen, even though the Vermont senator did not capture the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. In fact, Sanders was present when Cuomo unveiled his free college plans in 2017.

Still, those who watch New York politics aren’t expecting Nixon’s education plans to shake up the race.

“I’d be very surprised if that cut through the clutter,” Greenberg said of the plan.

Editorial Tags: 
Image Source: 
Courtesy Cynthia for New York
Image Caption: 
Cynthia Nixon
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 

Corporate pathway providers shake up international student landscape and up ante on compensation for agents

The growth of third-party pathway providers — and of the private capital behind many of them — has helped to create a more competitive and commercialized recruiting landscape.

The third-party pathway phenomenon is far from the only factor contributing to the commodification of international student recruitment, but it’s among them. As the number of programs has grown and competition between corporate pathway providers has increased, some professionals in the international education field have begun raising questions about the firms’ recruitment practices, in particular the payment of commissions to recruiting agents that can reach as high as $9,000 per student enrollment after bonuses are factored in.

The growth of third-party pathway programs has been entwined with growth in the adoption of commission-based agency recruitment, in which agents are paid a per capita commission for each student recruited to an institution or program. Federal law prohibits U.S. universities from paying commissions for the recruitment of domestic American students, but there is no such statutory prohibition when it comes to international students.

After extensive debate, members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling voted in 2013 to remove a ban on commission-based international recruitment provided institutions using the practice ensure accountability, integrity and transparency. The number of institutions using international recruiting agents has grown since then. NACAC’s surveys have found that 38.5 percent of institutions reported using agents in 2017, compared to 37 percent in 2015 and 30 percent in 2010.

The loosening of prohibitions and taboos on agents has freed up institutions to work with pathway providers, which generally rely on a combination of their own recruiting staff and relationships with agents who are paid on commission.

Ron Cushing, the director of international services at the University of Cincinnati, is no stranger to agent-based recruitment: his institution was an early adopter of the practice. But he said what he hears about some of the recruiting practices of the third-party pathway companies concerns him and makes it hard for institutions like his that don’t have a corporate partner to compete. Cincinnati is starting a new pathway program this fall that it developed and will recruit for by itself.

“What we hear is they are paying a disproportionately high commission rate compared to what a typical school would pay,” Cushing said. “On average we pay about $2,200 a student for commission. We’re hearing in some cases $6,000, $7,000 commissions on pathway students.”

“When you’re trying to then recruit against somebody who’s paying double or triple that, it puts us at a competitive disadvantage for sure,” Cushing said. “It’s hard to compete with third-party providers that are backed by investment capital and not the actual revenue for the programs.”

“Some of it isn’t the actual commission per student, but there’s a lot of incentives being offered out there,” Cushing continued. “Some of the things we hear — from trips to beach resorts to iPads to direct cash bonuses — that’s concerning. Those kinds of things lend to the concern that NACAC and a lot of institutions had when this whole agent thing started. Which is — are these agencies going to be pushing students to the right academic fit or are they going to be pushing them where they’re getting the right benefit? Obviously we have no way of knowing if that’s really happening. My hope is that it’s not, but from a perception standpoint that becomes a concern and a consideration when there is a pretty substantial gap in what people are paying.”

Commissions and Incentives

As Cushing suggested, when it comes to agent compensation, it is not just a matter of the base commission rate but other bonus incentives as well.

Flyer text says, "INTO Conference or 2,000 USD Extra Commission, 2018 - Thailand," with further text in Chinese characters.Fliers and emails seen by Inside Higher Ed detail some of the promotional bonuses available to agents, including limited-time bonuses of $1,000 or $2,000 for each new student enrollment at a particular partner university or group of partner universities.

A Chinese-language flyer from INTO invites agent partners to attend the company’s Chinese Partners Conference in Thailand upon confirmed enrollment of one new pathway student; agents unable to participate can elect to receive an extra $2,000 in commission instead.

INTO confirmed that the Thailand flier, at left, “is part of an incentive and awards program offered to Chinese education counselors who meet recruitment targets on behalf of our partners. To be clear, the trip to Thailand is to participate in an annual partner development program which INTO hosts throughout the region to promote a better understanding and awareness of the multiple international study options open to talented students from across China.

“Thailand is a major regional business hub in East Asia — directly accessible from most cities in China and the United States,” the statement continued. ”The program itself is a training event, ensuring counselors have the most up to date and appropriate information about major US study destinations which they in turn will use to provide up to date and accurate guidance to their clients and their families.”

Asked about their commission and bonus structures, the companies tend to be tight-lipped, viewing their incentive structures as proprietary. Inside Higher Ed asked representatives of pathway providers to share data on commissions. Most — INTO, Navitas and Study Group — declined to disclose their commission rates.

Tom Dretler, the CEO of Shorelight, said what the company pays agents is “what everybody pays in the industry.” A spokesman for the company said its commission practices are “in line” with the industry norm of 10 to 15 percent of first-year tuition. A list of Shorelight commissions and other agent communications seen by Inside Higher Ed shows that this is technically true, at least for credit-bearing programs: Shorelight’s commission rate is set at 15 percent for pathway or direct entry recruitment, and 20 percent for intensive English programs.

However, the promotional bonus programs can push the agent compensation well north of the 15 percent threshold. Documents viewed by Inside Higher Ed show, for example, that after a $1,000 bonus, an agent could earn around $9,000 for sending a single student to a three-semester Shorelight pathway program at American University; by comparison, 15 percent of the $53,675 tuition would be closer to $8,000. Shorelight is also offering an extra $2,000 bonus for new fall undergraduate enrollments at Louisiana State University and the University of Kansas, two institutions that have reported lower-than-expected enrollments in their programs.

To be sure, pathway programs aren’t the only entities paying bonuses to agents over and above commissions: a recent survey conducted by the American International Recruitment Council and the marketing and recruiting company Intead found that more than a quarter (26 percent) of the 163 institutions that responded to the survey said they pay a bonus to agents that exceed enrollment targets.

And it’s worth noting that pathway companies aren’t competing with universities only in terms of commissions or bonuses: they also compete in terms of the number of in-country recruitment staff they have and the service and outreach those staff members can provide to agents. Few individual institutions have significant numbers of in-country recruitment staff, if any.

Dretler said Shorelight has a 175-person recruiting staff. “We have a team, and that team is going direct and representing our universities. We work with agencies, too, and we’ll always work with agencies. We find that a lot of agencies do really important work. Increasingly, we find that agencies do not determine where the student goes to school because the student has more information walking in,” Dretler said.

“We’re not going to talk about specific rates of commission,” said John Latham, the CEO of INTO. “But what I can say is that people have got to understand that for the student who’s thinking about coming to the U.S., agents and counselors pay an absolutely invaluable role in helping them to work out how to make the best decisions.”

“The ultimate arbiter of all of this is the students,” added Tim O’Brien, INTO’s vice president for global partner development. O’Brien said a survey of 1,800 students at its U.S. pathway programs this spring found that 90 percent were satisfied, over all. Ninety-one percent were satisfied with their learning experience, and 95 percent with student support.

O’Brien added that for 2016-17, the last full year for which data were available, the average cumulative GPA for students who completed pathway programs is 3.11 at the undergraduate level and 3.52 at the graduate level.

“If the students are speaking, then they are speaking positively about their experiences with us and their partner universities. It sort of indicates that things must be OK — better than OK from their perspective, and when you look at their progression rates and GPA that they achieve,” O’Brien said.

Yet even in the event that 90-plus percent of students in INTO programs are satisfied with their programs, the fine print suggests there are few good options for those students who might be steered wrong — or who might, for whatever reason, show up on the first day of classes and find the program to be a poor fit. Here’s an example of where the for-profit and nonprofit cultures can clash: whereas it’s typical for universities to have progressive refund schemes, in which students are eligible for a certain percentage refund of their tuition depending on how far into the semester they are, the terms and conditions for INTO programs in the U.S. typically state that fees must be paid four weeks in advance of the program start date and that no refunds of pathway program tuition or fees will be granted after that start date.

For example, the published terms of agreement for the Oregon State program state that “there will be no refund of program fees, tuition, or deposits for students who cancel, withdraw, transfer early to an OSU degree seeking program or are suspended or dismissed from any INTO Oregon State University program after the published start date.”

Disruption

Third-party pathway providers pose new competition to two other types of programs or institutions that can serve as entry points for international students into U.S. higher education, including intensive English programs and community colleges.

While the number of third-party pathway programs has grown, enrollments in intensive English programs have been falling. The most substantial drops have been in the number of students coming from Saudi Arabia — a change attributable to changes in the Saudi government’s scholarship program — but the drops are not just limited to Saudi students: a recent survey of intensive English program enrollments conducted by the Institute of International Education found that the number of intensive English students dropped for nine of the top 10 sending countries from 2016 to 2017. Over all, the number of students in intensive English programs fell by 20 percent from 2016 to 2017, following on an 18.7 percent drop the year before that.

In a recent survey of international enrollment managers conducted by a subgroup of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, some respondents identified pathway programs as disruptive forces in the field. In presenting the survey results last month at the annual NAFSA conference, David DiMaria, the associate vice provost for international education at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said that pathway programs “are being seen almost as vacuums taking away from traditional intensive English program enrollments.”

“The pathway programs are just one more challenge among many in our field,” said Patricia Juza, the past president of a consortium of university- and college-governed intensive English programs known as UCIEP and director of the International English Center at the University of Colorado Boulder. Others she cited include difficulties for students in obtaining visas, the political climate, the strength of the dollar, the collapse of oil prices, and mass shootings in the U.S.

Juza is skeptical of the third-party pathway model. “It’s important to keep an open mind, but I think as an educator there are certain values that we hold: transparency, what’s in the best interest of the student,” she said. “I think where my skepticism lies is campuses could sometimes do a more thorough job of not only vetting individual third-party providers but do a more thorough job of evaluating whether it’s valuable to have a third party on a campus.”

Ross Jennings, the senior director of international education at Green River College, a Seattle-area community college that has been actively involved in recruiting international students for many years, said pathway programs also pose serious competition for community colleges looking to recruit international students.

Jennings said the third-party pathway programs are especially attractive options in China, where rankings are hugely important and where, Jennings said, the lower cost of community colleges can be seen as a minus because cheaper means lower quality in many parents’ minds. Pathways are attractive for that segment of students who need extra help before they can secure admission in a university of their choice — the kinds of students a community college might otherwise attract — but who also have the ability to pay higher tuition rates, and who presumably don’t mind paying a premium for the kind of hand-holding and extra support services they get with the third-party pathway programs.

Jennings said Green River has a track record of helping students transfer after two years into top 50 or top 100-ranked universities. Generally speaking — and with a couple notable exceptions — universities with rankings in this elite range generally don’t have third-party pathway programs. They don’t need them: they attract plenty of international students on their own by virtue of their ranking and reputation.

But Jennings said it’s hard for a community college with its 2+2 proposition to compete against the proposition pathways offer: conditional admission via a pathway program into a solid university — what he calls a “midmajor” — with a national ranking in the 100 to 200 range, as in the case of an Auburn University (No. 103 in the U.S. News ranking of national universities) or an Oregon State (No. 145).

“To get a student into the midmajor [university] and having a letter from midmajor in hand, and the agents get paid three times or more in commission than we can pay; because we have a low tuition, we don’t have the funding base to pay more commission than that — it’s very compelling,” Jennings said.

‘The Great Unknowns’

As competition for students is increasing, and the total pie of international students coming to the U.S. is not — at least for the moment — growing, is the space getting toward saturation? Will increasing difficulties in recruiting international students push yet more colleges toward corporate pathway partners, or will declining enrollments lead some institutions to decide they might do better going it alone and keeping what tuition revenue they earn to themselves?

“From the institutional side, there is clearly an effect of ‘what’s the alternative?’ That’s the question, really, to answer if the pressure is on enrollment and there are no resources to build capacity quickly,” said Rahul Choudaha, the author of a two-part report on pathway programs commissioned by NAFSA. “If an institution doesn’t have enough cachet, but still wants to have a quick ramp-up of international students, then they will need something like this that will reach out to that segment of students who need help but also have the ability to pay.”

​Choudaha said the downsides of the corporate model are what he descried as “the great unknowns,” including questions about demand. “The majority of the models are tied to one or two source countries,” he said, in reference to China and Saudi Arabia. “What’s the next source country that has the ability to pay and the need for these kinds of services?”

“The changes which are happening in the political climate are affecting everyone barring the top few, and now pathways are not immune to it,” Choudaha added. “The financial models were based on a rapid ramp-up. Now factoring in these risks of the external changes or even the changes in the competitive environment — the number of players coming in and at what pace — all those risks need to be factored in. They are the great unknowns, which can completely throw off a very long-term partnership that is expected to play out over 10 years or so.”

Ian Little, the owner of CDB Solutions, a company that consults with colleges on international recruitment and other areas, said that he would recommend institutions considering a partnership with a third-party pathway provider ask questions like whether they will have access to the company’s contracts with other partner institutions and whether there are incentives to drive students to any one institution over another. And at least some institutions, he suggested, would be better off investing in recruiting infrastructure on the front end rather than partnering with pathway providers for immediate access to their recruitment resources in exchange for a cut of tuition revenue on the back end.

“Not for all schools, but those comprehensive, doctorate, high research-activity schools, I believe they have the resources to do this successfully without compromising their ability to see returns immediately,” Little said. “Especially now if you’ve signed a contract recently during this period of contraction, depending on what the clauses in those contracts look like, you might not be able to go back on that or examine that for another three to five years — and a lot can happen.”

“The pool arguably is on a downward slope and there really isn’t reason to believe that the pool will get larger or the competition will minimize,” Little continued. “China has been a sustaining driver of this area, but who knows how that’s going to go. As Canada enters this game, with regional competition in Asia, with more English language programs … a shrinking pool and more competition isn’t the best formula.”

“The biggest market for pathways in the last few years has been China,” said Alexandra Zilovic, executive vice president of global operations and business affairs for the intensive English provider ELS Educational Services, which announced its first two pathway programs this spring, at California Lutheran University and the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

“What I would say about China, the pie hasn’t shrunk, but it hasn’t grown, and there’s so much competition that the pie is being sliced into smaller slices,” Zilovic said. “I think at one point regarding the China market there will be saturation, and I don’t think there will be sufficient demand for dozens and dozens of new pathways to be opening up. Yet nevertheless there are new markets that are being developed. Africa is emerging as a very, very interesting market; certain countries in Africa, specifically, that have shown great interest, and we expect fully that this will be a growing market. Latin America as well.”

Leaders of some of the major pathway companies say they see ample room to grow. International enrollments can go up and down in various countries, and just because they’re down in the U.S. for now doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be down for long.

“I think you have to think about that question [of saturation] in the context of where pathway is as a space in the United States relative to where it is outside of the United States,” David Leigh, the CEO of Study Group, said. “It’s still nascent compared to the two most mature markets, the U.K. and Australia. The pathway sector started in Australia and then moved to the U.K., and frankly it’s still, in terms of its size and maturity in the U.S., way behind the U.K. and Australia with huge room to grow.

“Our belief is that the macrotrends that help us understand why the U.K. and Australia have reached the sizes that they are don’t apply any less to the U.S. If anything they should apply to the U.S. in that the U.S. continues to be the No. 1 destination for international students looking to study abroad, but there haven’t historically been the same level of offerings. Many students have gone via a community college route, which is not obviously a pathway but perhaps offers a small piece — something akin to a pathway. What we believe is what you will see over the medium term is the U.S. pathway market being extremely attractive in the same way that the U.K. and Australia markets are attractive.”

“We’re nowhere close to saturation,” said Dretler of Shorelight. He pointed out that the proportion of international students in U.S. higher education sits at just 5 percent, whereas, by comparison, it’s 15 percent in Canada, 21 percent in the United Kingdom and 24 percent in Australia (see figures from Project Atlas here). Dretler said he co-founded Shorelight in 2013 in response to a finding that U.S. colleges had capacity for international students combined with increasing international demand, but that there was a “suboptimization” preventing them from reaching that population that private capital could help solve.

“We think that the main reason for that is that U.S. universities, even being the welcoming, wonderful places that they are, have unintentionally shut out the market by really only being able to market to one kind of student, and that’s the student who doesn’t need support with language and culture,” Dretler said. “Our target student is a highly motivated, talented student who does need support with language and culture — and then we meet them with a program.”

Global
Foreign Students
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 
Trending: 

The growth of third-party pathway providers -- and of the private capital behind many of them -- has helped to create a more competitive and commercialized recruiting landscape.

The third-party pathway phenomenon is far from the only factor contributing to the commodification of international student recruitment, but it's among them. As the number of programs has grown and competition between corporate pathway providers has increased, some professionals in the international education field have begun raising questions about the firms' recruitment practices, in particular the payment of commissions to recruiting agents that can reach as high as $9,000 per student enrollment after bonuses are factored in.

The growth of third-party pathway programs has been entwined with growth in the adoption of commission-based agency recruitment, in which agents are paid a per capita commission for each student recruited to an institution or program. Federal law prohibits U.S. universities from paying commissions for the recruitment of domestic American students, but there is no such statutory prohibition when it comes to international students.

After extensive debate, members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling voted in 2013 to remove a ban on commission-based international recruitment provided institutions using the practice ensure accountability, integrity and transparency. The number of institutions using international recruiting agents has grown since then. NACAC's surveys have found that 38.5 percent of institutions reported using agents in 2017, compared to 37 percent in 2015 and 30 percent in 2010.

The loosening of prohibitions and taboos on agents has freed up institutions to work with pathway providers, which generally rely on a combination of their own recruiting staff and relationships with agents who are paid on commission.

Ron Cushing, the director of international services at the University of Cincinnati, is no stranger to agent-based recruitment: his institution was an early adopter of the practice. But he said what he hears about some of the recruiting practices of the third-party pathway companies concerns him and makes it hard for institutions like his that don't have a corporate partner to compete. Cincinnati is starting a new pathway program this fall that it developed and will recruit for by itself.

“What we hear is they are paying a disproportionately high commission rate compared to what a typical school would pay,” Cushing said. “On average we pay about $2,200 a student for commission. We’re hearing in some cases $6,000, $7,000 commissions on pathway students.”

“When you’re trying to then recruit against somebody who’s paying double or triple that, it puts us at a competitive disadvantage for sure,” Cushing said. “It’s hard to compete with third-party providers that are backed by investment capital and not the actual revenue for the programs.”

“Some of it isn’t the actual commission per student, but there’s a lot of incentives being offered out there,” Cushing continued. “Some of the things we hear -- from trips to beach resorts to iPads to direct cash bonuses -- that’s concerning. Those kinds of things lend to the concern that NACAC and a lot of institutions had when this whole agent thing started. Which is -- are these agencies going to be pushing students to the right academic fit or are they going to be pushing them where they’re getting the right benefit? Obviously we have no way of knowing if that’s really happening. My hope is that it’s not, but from a perception standpoint that becomes a concern and a consideration when there is a pretty substantial gap in what people are paying.”

Commissions and Incentives

As Cushing suggested, when it comes to agent compensation, it is not just a matter of the base commission rate but other bonus incentives as well.

Flyer text says, "INTO Conference or 2,000 USD Extra Commission, 2018 - Thailand," with further text in Chinese characters.Fliers and emails seen by Inside Higher Ed detail some of the promotional bonuses available to agents, including limited-time bonuses of $1,000 or $2,000 for each new student enrollment at a particular partner university or group of partner universities.

A Chinese-language flyer from INTO invites agent partners to attend the company's Chinese Partners Conference in Thailand upon confirmed enrollment of one new pathway student; agents unable to participate can elect to receive an extra $2,000 in commission instead.

INTO confirmed that the Thailand flier, at left, “is part of an incentive and awards program offered to Chinese education counselors who meet recruitment targets on behalf of our partners. To be clear, the trip to Thailand is to participate in an annual partner development program which INTO hosts throughout the region to promote a better understanding and awareness of the multiple international study options open to talented students from across China.

“Thailand is a major regional business hub in East Asia -- directly accessible from most cities in China and the United States,” the statement continued. ”The program itself is a training event, ensuring counselors have the most up to date and appropriate information about major US study destinations which they in turn will use to provide up to date and accurate guidance to their clients and their families.”

Asked about their commission and bonus structures, the companies tend to be tight-lipped, viewing their incentive structures as proprietary. Inside Higher Ed asked representatives of pathway providers to share data on commissions. Most -- INTO, Navitas and Study Group -- declined to disclose their commission rates.

Tom Dretler, the CEO of Shorelight, said what the company pays agents is “what everybody pays in the industry.” A spokesman for the company said its commission practices are "in line" with the industry norm of 10 to 15 percent of first-year tuition. A list of Shorelight commissions and other agent communications seen by Inside Higher Ed shows that this is technically true, at least for credit-bearing programs: Shorelight's commission rate is set at 15 percent for pathway or direct entry recruitment, and 20 percent for intensive English programs.

However, the promotional bonus programs can push the agent compensation well north of the 15 percent threshold. Documents viewed by Inside Higher Ed show, for example, that after a $1,000 bonus, an agent could earn around $9,000 for sending a single student to a three-semester Shorelight pathway program at American University; by comparison, 15 percent of the $53,675 tuition would be closer to $8,000. Shorelight is also offering an extra $2,000 bonus for new fall undergraduate enrollments at Louisiana State University and the University of Kansas, two institutions that have reported lower-than-expected enrollments in their programs.

To be sure, pathway programs aren't the only entities paying bonuses to agents over and above commissions: a recent survey conducted by the American International Recruitment Council and the marketing and recruiting company Intead found that more than a quarter (26 percent) of the 163 institutions that responded to the survey said they pay a bonus to agents that exceed enrollment targets.

And it's worth noting that pathway companies aren't competing with universities only in terms of commissions or bonuses: they also compete in terms of the number of in-country recruitment staff they have and the service and outreach those staff members can provide to agents. Few individual institutions have significant numbers of in-country recruitment staff, if any.

Dretler said Shorelight has a 175-person recruiting staff. "We have a team, and that team is going direct and representing our universities. We work with agencies, too, and we’ll always work with agencies. We find that a lot of agencies do really important work. Increasingly, we find that agencies do not determine where the student goes to school because the student has more information walking in," Dretler said.

“We’re not going to talk about specific rates of commission,” said John Latham, the CEO of INTO. “But what I can say is that people have got to understand that for the student who's thinking about coming to the U.S., agents and counselors pay an absolutely invaluable role in helping them to work out how to make the best decisions.”

“The ultimate arbiter of all of this is the students,” added Tim O’Brien, INTO’s vice president for global partner development. O’Brien said a survey of 1,800 students at its U.S. pathway programs this spring found that 90 percent were satisfied, over all. Ninety-one percent were satisfied with their learning experience, and 95 percent with student support.

O'Brien added that for 2016-17, the last full year for which data were available, the average cumulative GPA for students who completed pathway programs is 3.11 at the undergraduate level and 3.52 at the graduate level.

“If the students are speaking, then they are speaking positively about their experiences with us and their partner universities. It sort of indicates that things must be OK -- better than OK from their perspective, and when you look at their progression rates and GPA that they achieve,” O’Brien said.

Yet even in the event that 90-plus percent of students in INTO programs are satisfied with their programs, the fine print suggests there are few good options for those students who might be steered wrong -- or who might, for whatever reason, show up on the first day of classes and find the program to be a poor fit. Here's an example of where the for-profit and nonprofit cultures can clash: whereas it’s typical for universities to have progressive refund schemes, in which students are eligible for a certain percentage refund of their tuition depending on how far into the semester they are, the terms and conditions for INTO programs in the U.S. typically state that fees must be paid four weeks in advance of the program start date and that no refunds of pathway program tuition or fees will be granted after that start date.

For example, the published terms of agreement for the Oregon State program state that "there will be no refund of program fees, tuition, or deposits for students who cancel, withdraw, transfer early to an OSU degree seeking program or are suspended or dismissed from any INTO Oregon State University program after the published start date."

Disruption

Third-party pathway providers pose new competition to two other types of programs or institutions that can serve as entry points for international students into U.S. higher education, including intensive English programs and community colleges.

While the number of third-party pathway programs has grown, enrollments in intensive English programs have been falling. The most substantial drops have been in the number of students coming from Saudi Arabia -- a change attributable to changes in the Saudi government's scholarship program -- but the drops are not just limited to Saudi students: a recent survey of intensive English program enrollments conducted by the Institute of International Education found that the number of intensive English students dropped for nine of the top 10 sending countries from 2016 to 2017. Over all, the number of students in intensive English programs fell by 20 percent from 2016 to 2017, following on an 18.7 percent drop the year before that.

In a recent survey of international enrollment managers conducted by a subgroup of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, some respondents identified pathway programs as disruptive forces in the field. In presenting the survey results last month at the annual NAFSA conference, David DiMaria, the associate vice provost for international education at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said that pathway programs “are being seen almost as vacuums taking away from traditional intensive English program enrollments."

“The pathway programs are just one more challenge among many in our field,” said Patricia Juza, the past president of a consortium of university- and college-governed intensive English programs known as UCIEP and director of the International English Center at the University of Colorado Boulder. Others she cited include difficulties for students in obtaining visas, the political climate, the strength of the dollar, the collapse of oil prices, and mass shootings in the U.S.

Juza is skeptical of the third-party pathway model. "It's important to keep an open mind, but I think as an educator there are certain values that we hold: transparency, what’s in the best interest of the student," she said. "I think where my skepticism lies is campuses could sometimes do a more thorough job of not only vetting individual third-party providers but do a more thorough job of evaluating whether it’s valuable to have a third party on a campus."

Ross Jennings, the senior director of international education at Green River College, a Seattle-area community college that has been actively involved in recruiting international students for many years, said pathway programs also pose serious competition for community colleges looking to recruit international students.

Jennings said the third-party pathway programs are especially attractive options in China, where rankings are hugely important and where, Jennings said, the lower cost of community colleges can be seen as a minus because cheaper means lower quality in many parents’ minds. Pathways are attractive for that segment of students who need extra help before they can secure admission in a university of their choice -- the kinds of students a community college might otherwise attract -- but who also have the ability to pay higher tuition rates, and who presumably don't mind paying a premium for the kind of hand-holding and extra support services they get with the third-party pathway programs.

Jennings said Green River has a track record of helping students transfer after two years into top 50 or top 100-ranked universities. Generally speaking -- and with a couple notable exceptions -- universities with rankings in this elite range generally don’t have third-party pathway programs. They don’t need them: they attract plenty of international students on their own by virtue of their ranking and reputation.

But Jennings said it’s hard for a community college with its 2+2 proposition to compete against the proposition pathways offer: conditional admission via a pathway program into a solid university -- what he calls a “midmajor” -- with a national ranking in the 100 to 200 range, as in the case of an Auburn University (No. 103 in the U.S. News ranking of national universities) or an Oregon State (No. 145).

“To get a student into the midmajor [university] and having a letter from midmajor in hand, and the agents get paid three times or more in commission than we can pay; because we have a low tuition, we don’t have the funding base to pay more commission than that -- it’s very compelling,” Jennings said.

‘The Great Unknowns’

As competition for students is increasing, and the total pie of international students coming to the U.S. is not -- at least for the moment -- growing, is the space getting toward saturation? Will increasing difficulties in recruiting international students push yet more colleges toward corporate pathway partners, or will declining enrollments lead some institutions to decide they might do better going it alone and keeping what tuition revenue they earn to themselves?

"From the institutional side, there is clearly an effect of 'what’s the alternative?' That’s the question, really, to answer if the pressure is on enrollment and there are no resources to build capacity quickly," said Rahul Choudaha, the author of a two-part report on pathway programs commissioned by NAFSA. "If an institution doesn’t have enough cachet, but still wants to have a quick ramp-up of international students, then they will need something like this that will reach out to that segment of students who need help but also have the ability to pay."

​Choudaha said the downsides of the corporate model are what he descried as "the great unknowns," including questions about demand. “The majority of the models are tied to one or two source countries," he said, in reference to China and Saudi Arabia. "What’s the next source country that has the ability to pay and the need for these kinds of services?"

"The changes which are happening in the political climate are affecting everyone barring the top few, and now pathways are not immune to it," Choudaha added. "The financial models were based on a rapid ramp-up. Now factoring in these risks of the external changes or even the changes in the competitive environment -- the number of players coming in and at what pace -- all those risks need to be factored in. They are the great unknowns, which can completely throw off a very long-term partnership that is expected to play out over 10 years or so."

Ian Little, the owner of CDB Solutions, a company that consults with colleges on international recruitment and other areas, said that he would recommend institutions considering a partnership with a third-party pathway provider ask questions like whether they will have access to the company's contracts with other partner institutions and whether there are incentives to drive students to any one institution over another. And at least some institutions, he suggested, would be better off investing in recruiting infrastructure on the front end rather than partnering with pathway providers for immediate access to their recruitment resources in exchange for a cut of tuition revenue on the back end.

“Not for all schools, but those comprehensive, doctorate, high research-activity schools, I believe they have the resources to do this successfully without compromising their ability to see returns immediately,” Little said. “Especially now if you’ve signed a contract recently during this period of contraction, depending on what the clauses in those contracts look like, you might not be able to go back on that or examine that for another three to five years -- and a lot can happen.”

"The pool arguably is on a downward slope and there really isn’t reason to believe that the pool will get larger or the competition will minimize," Little continued. "China has been a sustaining driver of this area, but who knows how that’s going to go. As Canada enters this game, with regional competition in Asia, with more English language programs … a shrinking pool and more competition isn’t the best formula."

“The biggest market for pathways in the last few years has been China," said Alexandra Zilovic, executive vice president of global operations and business affairs for the intensive English provider ELS Educational Services, which announced its first two pathway programs this spring, at California Lutheran University and the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

"What I would say about China, the pie hasn’t shrunk, but it hasn’t grown, and there’s so much competition that the pie is being sliced into smaller slices," Zilovic said. "I think at one point regarding the China market there will be saturation, and I don’t think there will be sufficient demand for dozens and dozens of new pathways to be opening up. Yet nevertheless there are new markets that are being developed. Africa is emerging as a very, very interesting market; certain countries in Africa, specifically, that have shown great interest, and we expect fully that this will be a growing market. Latin America as well."

Leaders of some of the major pathway companies say they see ample room to grow. International enrollments can go up and down in various countries, and just because they're down in the U.S. for now doesn't necessarily mean they'll be down for long.

“I think you have to think about that question [of saturation] in the context of where pathway is as a space in the United States relative to where it is outside of the United States,” David Leigh, the CEO of Study Group, said. “It’s still nascent compared to the two most mature markets, the U.K. and Australia. The pathway sector started in Australia and then moved to the U.K., and frankly it’s still, in terms of its size and maturity in the U.S., way behind the U.K. and Australia with huge room to grow.

“Our belief is that the macrotrends that help us understand why the U.K. and Australia have reached the sizes that they are don’t apply any less to the U.S. If anything they should apply to the U.S. in that the U.S. continues to be the No. 1 destination for international students looking to study abroad, but there haven’t historically been the same level of offerings. Many students have gone via a community college route, which is not obviously a pathway but perhaps offers a small piece -- something akin to a pathway. What we believe is what you will see over the medium term is the U.S. pathway market being extremely attractive in the same way that the U.K. and Australia markets are attractive.”

"We're nowhere close to saturation," said Dretler of Shorelight. He pointed out that the proportion of international students in U.S. higher education sits at just 5 percent, whereas, by comparison, it's 15 percent in Canada, 21 percent in the United Kingdom and 24 percent in Australia (see figures from Project Atlas here). Dretler said he co-founded Shorelight in 2013 in response to a finding that U.S. colleges had capacity for international students combined with increasing international demand, but that there was a "suboptimization" preventing them from reaching that population that private capital could help solve.

“We think that the main reason for that is that U.S. universities, even being the welcoming, wonderful places that they are, have unintentionally shut out the market by really only being able to market to one kind of student, and that’s the student who doesn’t need support with language and culture,” Dretler said. “Our target student is a highly motivated, talented student who does need support with language and culture -- and then we meet them with a program.”

Global
Foreign Students
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 

Public Remarks By Delegates On Censure Of University of Nebraska-Lincoln

These are public remarks made by delegates at the 104th Annual Meeting of the AAUP on the issue of adding University of Nebraska-Lincoln to the list of censored administrations. The remarks are reprinted with permission.

These are public remarks made by delegates at the 104th Annual Meeting of the AAUP on the issue of adding University of Nebraska-Lincoln to the list of censored administrations. The remarks are reprinted with permission.

Lumina Foundation moves beyond college completion with grants to improve campus racial climates

Since its creation in 2000, the Lumina Foundation has focused almost entirely on college completion. But the foundation has now added racial justice and equity as a priority.

Indianapolis-based Lumina announced June 12 that it will provide $625,000 in grants to 19 colleges and universities with the goal of improving race relations on campus. The grants, part of Lumina’s recently created Fund for Racial Justice and Equity, are unlike much of Lumina’s past work. But Danette Howard, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Lumina, believes they fall directly in line with Lumina’s goals of increasing degree attainment and closing achievement gaps for minority students.

“Issues of campus climate often play into whether or not students are successful in their academic pursuits, and therefore whether or not those same students are successful in earning their credentials,” Howard said.

She said Lumina wanted to do more than “simply issue another statement” after the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., last August.

“We decided to develop and support the Racial Justice and Equity Fund after the really devastating incidents in Charlottesville last year,” Howard said, “in part because those incidents occurred on, near and around the University of Virginia, a college campus.”

Virginia is among the 19 grant recipients, which include two- and four-year colleges and both public and private institutions. Each college will receive $25,000 to $50,000 to fund campus climate projects that are already in the works. Lumina was selective with its grants — over 312 colleges applied, but the foundation tried to pick institutions that have begun initiatives to better their campus climate.

“We did not want to support institutions that felt that they couldn’t do anything unless they had our support, but that they felt as if they could use our support to leverage what they had already started,” Howard said.

For example, Bard College, another grant recipient, plans to focus on art and creativity as a means to tell stories that have historically been silenced. Through monuments, signage and art installations, the predominantly white college hopes that its community will learn more about the histories of local indigenous and minority groups.

“Storytelling and aesthetics are powerful ways to move people, especially towards racial equity,” said Ariana Stokas, dean of inclusive excellence at Bard.

Illinois Central College will use its Lumina grant for a project that focuses on the Peoria community, where most of its African-American student reside. Peoria recently was named by 24/7 Wall Street as the worst city for African-Americans.

“High pockets of poverty, employment gaps, lack of affordable housing, criminal and social justice concerns contribute to disparities between blacks and whites in Peoria,” Rita Ali, vice president of diversity and community impact at Illinois Central, said via email. “These issues, coupled with two recent police killings of African-American males, have brought about protests and demands by community groups demanding solutions to issues of racial justice and equity.”

The college is planning to co-host a two-day summit on racial justice and equity with Peoria Public Schools in February.

The University of California, Los Angeles, is using the Lumina funds to support the development of a mobile app that will allow students to crowdsource information about the campus climate in real time. The app, which asks students to answer a few questions about their feelings on campus every two weeks, will create a database of incidents and experiences that will help the university better understand student attitudes on campus.

Other grant recipients include:

  • Iḷisaġvik College, which will work with the First Alaskans Initiative to integrate cultural understanding into its curriculum.
  • Skagit Valley College, which will focus on Latino student achievement by holding an educational justice conference and implementing racially just teaching strategies for faculty and staff members.
  • Temple University, which plans to host “interactive community conversations” that help participants reflect on their roles in a racist culture.
  • The University of New Mexico, which will develop racial justice and bias strategies to be integrated into the curriculum.

A full list of recipients can be found on Lumina’s website.

Diversity
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 
Trending: 

Since its creation in 2000, the Lumina Foundation has focused almost entirely on college completion. But the foundation has now added racial justice and equity as a priority.

Indianapolis-based Lumina announced June 12 that it will provide $625,000 in grants to 19 colleges and universities with the goal of improving race relations on campus. The grants, part of Lumina's recently created Fund for Racial Justice and Equity, are unlike much of Lumina's past work. But Danette Howard, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Lumina, believes they fall directly in line with Lumina's goals of increasing degree attainment and closing achievement gaps for minority students.

"Issues of campus climate often play into whether or not students are successful in their academic pursuits, and therefore whether or not those same students are successful in earning their credentials," Howard said.

She said Lumina wanted to do more than "simply issue another statement" after the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., last August.

“We decided to develop and support the Racial Justice and Equity Fund after the really devastating incidents in Charlottesville last year," Howard said, "in part because those incidents occurred on, near and around the University of Virginia, a college campus."

Virginia is among the 19 grant recipients, which include two- and four-year colleges and both public and private institutions. Each college will receive $25,000 to $50,000 to fund campus climate projects that are already in the works. Lumina was selective with its grants -- over 312 colleges applied, but the foundation tried to pick institutions that have begun initiatives to better their campus climate.

"We did not want to support institutions that felt that they couldn't do anything unless they had our support, but that they felt as if they could use our support to leverage what they had already started," Howard said.

For example, Bard College, another grant recipient, plans to focus on art and creativity as a means to tell stories that have historically been silenced. Through monuments, signage and art installations, the predominantly white college hopes that its community will learn more about the histories of local indigenous and minority groups.

“Storytelling and aesthetics are powerful ways to move people, especially towards racial equity,” said Ariana Stokas, dean of inclusive excellence at Bard.

Illinois Central College will use its Lumina grant for a project that focuses on the Peoria community, where most of its African-American student reside. Peoria recently was named by 24/7 Wall Street as the worst city for African-Americans.

“High pockets of poverty, employment gaps, lack of affordable housing, criminal and social justice concerns contribute to disparities between blacks and whites in Peoria,” Rita Ali, vice president of diversity and community impact at Illinois Central, said via email. “These issues, coupled with two recent police killings of African-American males, have brought about protests and demands by community groups demanding solutions to issues of racial justice and equity.”

The college is planning to co-host a two-day summit on racial justice and equity with Peoria Public Schools in February.

The University of California, Los Angeles, is using the Lumina funds to support the development of a mobile app that will allow students to crowdsource information about the campus climate in real time. The app, which asks students to answer a few questions about their feelings on campus every two weeks, will create a database of incidents and experiences that will help the university better understand student attitudes on campus.

Other grant recipients include:

  • Iḷisaġvik College, which will work with the First Alaskans Initiative to integrate cultural understanding into its curriculum.
  • Skagit Valley College, which will focus on Latino student achievement by holding an educational justice conference and implementing racially just teaching strategies for faculty and staff members.
  • Temple University, which plans to host "interactive community conversations" that help participants reflect on their roles in a racist culture.
  • The University of New Mexico, which will develop racial justice and bias strategies to be integrated into the curriculum.

A full list of recipients can be found on Lumina’s website.

Diversity
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 

Colleges award tenure

Arkansas State University

Claire Abernathy, theater
Rejoice Addae, social work
Than J. Boves, wildlife ecology
Michael Bowman, media
J. Justin Castro, history
Jacob N. Caton, philosophy
Kristi Murray Costello, English
Kimberley Davis, special…

Arkansas State University

  • Claire Abernathy, theater
  • Rejoice Addae, social work
  • Than J. Boves, wildlife ecology
  • Michael Bowman, media
  • J. Justin Castro, history
  • Jacob N. Caton, philosophy
  • Kristi Murray Costello, English
  • Kimberley Davis, special education
  • Joy Good, communication disorders
  • Zahid Hossain, civil engineering
  • Anahita Izadyar, chemistry
  • Mark A. McJunkin, teacher education
  • Michele Merritt, philosophy
  • Jonathan Merten, chemistry
  • Vicent Moreno, Spanish
  • Christopher S. Peters, psychology
  • Cristy Phillips, physical therapy
  • Rajesh Sharma, renewable energy technology
  • Pam Towery, nutritional science
  • Susan Whiteland, art education
  • Amber Wooten, diagnostic medical sonography

Central College, in Iowa

  • Ashley Garr, chemistry
  • George Nwaogu, economics, accounting and management
  • Ashley Scolaro, psychology

Middlebury College

  • Tara Affolter, education studies
  • Ata Anzali, religion
  • Luis Castaneda, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Kemi Fuentes-George, political science
  • Jamie McCallum, sociology-anthropology
  • Andrea Robbett, economics
  • Marcos Rohena-Madrazo, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Max Ward, history

Muhlenberg College

  • Michael Allocca, mathematics and computer science
  • Jessica Cooperman, religion studies and Jewish studies
  • Paul Murphy, music
  • Jeffrey Peterson, theater and dance
  • Kammie Takahashi, religion studies and Asian studies

Northeastern Illinois University

  • Sara Aliabadi, accounting, business law and finance
  • Amina Chaudhri, teacher education
  • Nathan Mathews, art
  • Adam Messinger, justice studies
  • Christopher Owen, music
  • Milka Ramirez, social work
  • Melinda Storie, geography and environmental studies
  • Jing Su, chemistry
  • Cindy Voisine, biology
  • Xiaohong (Sara) Wang, accounting, business law and finance
  • Shubin (Kevin) Xu, management and marketing

Sacred Heart University

  • Bernadette Boyle, mathematics
  • Colleen Butler-Sweet, sociology
  • Walker K. Hughen, finance
  • Cara Erdheim Kilgallen, English
  • Gordon Purves, philosophy
  • Tuvana Rua, management
  • William Yousman, communication and media studies

Widener University

  • Normajean Colby, nursing 
  • Bruce Grohsgal, law
  • Stephanie Jeffers, nursing
  • Yufeng Mao, arts and sciences 
  • Suzanne Mannes, arts and sciences
  • Mariah Schug, arts and sciences
  • Courtney Slater, human service professions
Editorial Tags: 
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 

A pathway model that differs from the rest

One of the more unusual providers in the pathway space is Kings Education.

Kings Education primarily contracts with small private colleges, though it recently signed its first partnership agreement with a public institution, a two-year community college in the University of Wisconsin System, which Kings is promoting as a pathway into the University of Wisconsin at Madison by virtue of the community college’s guaranteed transfer agreement. Kings’ other partners in the U.S. are Concordia College New York, Pine Manor College and Marymount California and Rider Universities.

Kings Education has a different model than other pathway providers: Kings recruits students to its partner university on the premise that they will stay one to two years and transfer to another institution. Unlike in the case of other pathway programs, students in the Kings pathway programs do not take a mix of intensive English and academic course work in their first year but instead enroll in a regular course of study.

Third-Party Pathways: a Series


Elsewhere today:

Coming tomorrow:

  • The Pathway Impact on Commissions and Incentives
  • Parting Ways: Programs That Have Ended

“The reason that we call it pathway and the service we provide is we recognize that sometimes students don’t have the credentials to get into a top 100 university, but every market that we visit is incredibly ranking oriented,” said Jose Flores, a co-founder of the company and managing director of its North American operations. Kings’ model, he said, is for those students to start at a small, less selective college where Kings has advising staff, then transfer to a higher-ranked institution.

At some of Kings’ partners, the students the company recruits make up a substantial proportion of their enrollment.

At Pine Manor College, near Boston, Diane Mello-Goldner, the dean of the college and chief academic officer, said the 166 Kings pathway students made up about 39 percent of the 422 undergraduate students on campus last fall. The Kings-recruited students are predominantly men and have helped, Mello-Goldner said, with the college’s transition from a women-only to a coeducational education.

“The Kings pathway students were the first male students we had in our classes,” she said. Mello-Goldner said the largest percentage of Kings-recruited students at Pine Manor — she estimated about 75 percent — come from China.

At Concordia New York, a Christian liberal arts institution, Jim Burkee, the college’s executive vice president, estimated that about 25 percent of next year’s incoming freshman class — about 70 to 80 out of a total of 280 to 300 students — will be recruited by Kings. Burkee is a proponent of the Kings partnership, which he says extends Concordia’s reach.

“A lot of schools our size, their international recruiting strategy tends to be driven by something like this: our vice president is married to someone who’s Korean, and he visited Korea and he’s got a couple of friends over there. Or somebody who was employed here six years ago knew someone in China, so that’s why we have an agent in China,” Burkee said. “A school of this size doesn’t have the resources in what continues to be an increasingly competitive recruiting market to be effective in recruiting from abroad.”

“What we’ve found is Kings is bringing in for us students who are a good cultural fit for the institution; they perform on average better academically than our average student,” Burkee said. “And they’re coming in at an overall lower discount rate than our traditional students. What we’re netting in terms of net tuition revenue is higher for a Kings-recruited student than for students in many other of our recruiting channels.”

On the other hand, a visiting accrediting team for another of Kings’ partners, Marymount California University, raised concerns about the financial arrangements between Kings and Marymount and recommended that the agreement either be restructured or discontinued. Marymount California’s tax filings show that the institution paid Kings $1.4 million for student recruitment in 2016 and almost $1.7 million in 2015, when it was the college’s highest-paid independent contractor.

“While international students have been a source of revenue, they are also increasingly a part of the budget problems, in part due to deep discounts negotiated by the contract with Kings College,” a visiting accrediting team from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission found during a September 2015 visit (Kings Colleges is a former name for Kings Education).

Elsewhere the WASC team wrote, “MCU is a tuition-driven institution and relies heavily on a mix of local and international students. The institution possesses skills in recruiting and catering to international students. However it needs to develop better processes for engaging in collaborative efforts with international recruitment agencies to make sure they are aligned with its mission and financially viable. MCU must prepare to deal with world events and a possible drop in its international student pipeline due to political, economic, and social changes that may occur globally. The institution may want to better align or discontinue its current international collaboration with Kings College to ensure it supports MCU’s mission and maximizes return on investment.”

An assistant to the president at Marymount California, which recently underwent an abrupt and mysterious presidential transition, declined an interview request. Flores, of Kings, questioned whether the data the accrediting team relied upon was accurate. He said the Kings partnership at Marymount California has generated $24.2 million in tuition, housing and fee revenue since the contract started in 2013.

Admissions
Global
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: 
Trending: 

One of the more unusual providers in the pathway space is Kings Education.

Kings Education primarily contracts with small private colleges, though it recently signed its first partnership agreement with a public institution, a two-year community college in the University of Wisconsin System, which Kings is promoting as a pathway into the University of Wisconsin at Madison by virtue of the community college's guaranteed transfer agreement. Kings' other partners in the U.S. are Concordia College New York, Pine Manor College and Marymount California and Rider Universities.

Kings Education has a different model than other pathway providers: Kings recruits students to its partner university on the premise that they will stay one to two years and transfer to another institution. Unlike in the case of other pathway programs, students in the Kings pathway programs do not take a mix of intensive English and academic course work in their first year but instead enroll in a regular course of study.

Third-Party Pathways: a Series


Elsewhere today:

Coming tomorrow:

  • The Pathway Impact on Commissions and Incentives
  • Parting Ways: Programs That Have Ended

“The reason that we call it pathway and the service we provide is we recognize that sometimes students don’t have the credentials to get into a top 100 university, but every market that we visit is incredibly ranking oriented,” said Jose Flores, a co-founder of the company and managing director of its North American operations. Kings' model, he said, is for those students to start at a small, less selective college where Kings has advising staff, then transfer to a higher-ranked institution.

At some of Kings' partners, the students the company recruits make up a substantial proportion of their enrollment.

At Pine Manor College, near Boston, Diane Mello-Goldner, the dean of the college and chief academic officer, said the 166 Kings pathway students made up about 39 percent of the 422 undergraduate students on campus last fall. The Kings-recruited students are predominantly men and have helped, Mello-Goldner said, with the college's transition from a women-only to a coeducational education.

"The Kings pathway students were the first male students we had in our classes," she said. Mello-Goldner said the largest percentage of Kings-recruited students at Pine Manor -- she estimated about 75 percent -- come from China.

At Concordia New York, a Christian liberal arts institution, Jim Burkee, the college's executive vice president, estimated that about 25 percent of next year's incoming freshman class -- about 70 to 80 out of a total of 280 to 300 students -- will be recruited by Kings. Burkee is a proponent of the Kings partnership, which he says extends Concordia’s reach.

“A lot of schools our size, their international recruiting strategy tends to be driven by something like this: our vice president is married to someone who's Korean, and he visited Korea and he’s got a couple of friends over there. Or somebody who was employed here six years ago knew someone in China, so that’s why we have an agent in China,” Burkee said. “A school of this size doesn’t have the resources in what continues to be an increasingly competitive recruiting market to be effective in recruiting from abroad.”

“What we’ve found is Kings is bringing in for us students who are a good cultural fit for the institution; they perform on average better academically than our average student,” Burkee said. “And they’re coming in at an overall lower discount rate than our traditional students. What we’re netting in terms of net tuition revenue is higher for a Kings-recruited student than for students in many other of our recruiting channels.”

On the other hand, a visiting accrediting team for another of Kings’ partners, Marymount California University, raised concerns about the financial arrangements between Kings and Marymount and recommended that the agreement either be restructured or discontinued. Marymount California’s tax filings show that the institution paid Kings $1.4 million for student recruitment in 2016 and almost $1.7 million in 2015, when it was the college’s highest-paid independent contractor.

“While international students have been a source of revenue, they are also increasingly a part of the budget problems, in part due to deep discounts negotiated by the contract with Kings College,” a visiting accrediting team from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission found during a September 2015 visit (Kings Colleges is a former name for Kings Education).

Elsewhere the WASC team wrote, “MCU is a tuition-driven institution and relies heavily on a mix of local and international students. The institution possesses skills in recruiting and catering to international students. However it needs to develop better processes for engaging in collaborative efforts with international recruitment agencies to make sure they are aligned with its mission and financially viable. MCU must prepare to deal with world events and a possible drop in its international student pipeline due to political, economic, and social changes that may occur globally. The institution may want to better align or discontinue its current international collaboration with Kings College to ensure it supports MCU’s mission and maximizes return on investment.”

An assistant to the president at Marymount California, which recently underwent an abrupt and mysterious presidential transition, declined an interview request. Flores, of Kings, questioned whether the data the accrediting team relied upon was accurate. He said the Kings partnership at Marymount California has generated $24.2 million in tuition, housing and fee revenue since the contract started in 2013.

Admissions
Global
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Newsletter Order: 
0
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
Magazine treatment: