By Max Brunt
After months of tension with university administration, the Faculty Senate voted unanimously on Monday, Feb. 12 to approve a new program for international students in partnership with Study Group, a privatized international student recruiting service.
The Global Pathway Program is a set of coursework for certain international students that is designed to combine English as a Second Language courses with other credit-bearing classes, all taught by Western faculty, according to Western Today.
The main concern raised over the Global Pathway Program involves its use of Study Group. Critics of Study Group say that the company prioritizes wealth in selection of international students.
Concerns with the service were previously raised in November when Western entered into a 10-year contract with Study Group without consulting with the Faculty Senate, The AS Review reported in November.
President Sabah Randhawa issued an apology in November for not discussing the contract with faculty. Plans to implement the program were delayed so that the senate could have time to review the current proposal, and the strategic planning committee halted their work in response.
Western history professor Ricardo Lopez said that while he doesn’t like some of the language used by Study Group, he is now supportive of the proposal because it would provide international students with a comprehensive ESL curriculum.
“When they actually see students as ‘customers’ or as ‘clients,’ I don’t like that,” Lopez said.
While critical of Study Group, Lopez said the Global Pathway Program itself could be a valuable opportunity for international students. He said and that Study Group should only be one component of Western’s internationalization.
Lopez was among a group of faculty members who visited James Madison University to see how their Global Pathway Program and Study Group programs have done. Their report said they saw increased diversity in the student body, and that the program hadn’t simply served to make money.
“The reports from JMU indicate that this is not a profit center for them,” said faculty senator and management professor Craig Dunn.
Proponents of Study Group and the Global Pathways Program say that it increases the international student population, despite its selectiveness.
“The MBA program is really excited about the opportunity to increase our international student population,” Mark Staton, director of the MBA program, said.
Staton also said other committees such as the Graduate Council had approved the MBA’s proposals unanimously.
The AS Review obtained the Study Group contract in November, which says that a Study Group will receive a little more than half of the first year’s tuition for students it recruits, and then decreasing portions the rest of their years at Western.
Faculty expressed concern that there would not be enough space and resources on campus for the students, and that Western was more concerned with revenue than diversity, The AS Review reported. President Sabah Randhawa addressed to some of these concerns in a post on Western Today in November.
The university told The AS Review that faculty was left out due to time constraints, and that the program is part of a goal to increase international students at Western from 1 to 5 percent.
The provost’s office will hold a public forum on the Global Pathway Program and Study Group on Thursday in Bond Hall 109 from 3-4 p.m. Other items discussed at the Faculty Senate meeting can be found at http://www.wwu.edu/facultysenate/