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Thursday, May 28, 2020

International programs discussed at Provost forum

By Emily Stout

The Provost’s Office hosted a public forum to discuss Western’s new Global Pathway Program and a recent partnership with Study Group, a private corporation that assists universities with international programs.

Western has partnered with Study Group to start the Global Pathway Program, which aims to merge English as a Second Language courses with for-credit courses for international students. Study Group has partnerships with schools across the world and will assist in recruiting students to the program, set to begin in fall 2018.

Western announced a 10-year contract with Study Group in November. After the announcement, some faculty members raised concerns, saying they disagree with the Study Group business model and felt they were left out of the decision. Study Group will also be taking a percentage of tuition from students in the program.

At a meeting on Feb. 12, the Faculty Senate unanimously voted to approve the Global Pathway Program, with some saying they see value in the program and not necessarily the partnership with Study Group.

At the forum on Thursday, Feb. 15, Provost Brent Carbajal said he believes the partnership with Study Group will be beneficial to the university.

“Study Group aligns with the mission of Western,” he said.

Representatives from several work groups assigned to prepare the Global Pathway Program spoke about what they have completed. The work groups include topics such as admissions, marketing, finance, technology and academics.

Maggie Barklind, senior director of administration and services at Extended Education, said the work groups are made up of people from across the university who offer expertise on a subject.

Vicky Hamblin, executive director of the Center for Global Engagement and head of the academic work group, presented an academic proposal at the meeting. This proposal outlines the pathways for international students who are accepted into the program.

The current ESL program in place at Western, the Intensive English Program, will assist international students in reaching English language proficiency. Once they reach a certain level, students can begin to take select classes for credit.

Hamblin said they are still working out the specific learning environment that would be ideal for international students who may be taking classes with limited English language skills. She said more will be decided in the coming months.

“There’s still a lot to learn,” Hamblin said.

A pre-MBA option will also be available through the Global Pathway Program. Mark Staton, director of graduate programs for the College of Business and Economics, expressed his excitement to welcome new international students into the program.

“We’ve been wanting to internationalize our program for a long time,” he said at the meeting.

Barklind said it is estimated that 75 students will begin the undergraduate pathway fall 2018 and 23-25 students will begin the pre-MBA pathway at the beginning of the 2019-2020 academic year.

Although work groups will continue to meet and plan the program, there may not be another public forum, Barklind said.

At the meeting, there were few questions from the small group of faculty and no concerns were voiced. Barklind said another public forum was scheduled, but maybe cancelled because of lack of interest in this forum. The last meeting was more controversial, Barklind said.

“You’re a lot easier than the last group,” she said to the audience.

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