Tag Archives: IEP

IEPs and the Rise of Pathway Programs

This week my colleague from the University of Kansas, Deborah Osborne and I led a discussion on the future of

Deborah Osborne and Alan at the TESOL Convention, Seattle

university intensive English programs at the TESOL Convention in Seattle. Many university IEPs reported enrollment declines of between 10% and 70% last fall, and some are really struggling at this point. Meanwhile, pathway programs resulting from partnerships between universities (such as American University, Oregon State University, and George Mason University) and corporate partners (such as INTO, Navitas, and Shorelight) continue to proliferate, suggesting that English language and academic preparation for international students is undergoing a major shift.

For prospective students, the major attraction of a pathway program is the word ‘guaranteed.’ If they complete the program successfully, they will matriculate into the partner university. Many university IEPs can offer college advising and assistance with applications, but are not able to offer that guarantee. For universities, pathway programs can offer a fast track to increasing international student enrollments with little upfront investment or the need to build their own international student recruiting capacity.

There are two main choices for university IEPs. First, they can try to compete on the pathway providers’ territory by setting up their own pathway programs. The challenge here is that they generally don’t have the recruitment network to make that happen quickly, and there are very few instances of a university recruiting significant numbers of students via a home-grown pathway. Second, they can adapt to provide programming that pathway programs can’t. Examples include shorter programs, custom programs, specialized programs, and programs to support admitted or matriculated international students on their campus. This will require flexibility and an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.

These are challenging times for IEPs, and it remains to be seen whether they can adapt to the challenge of the pathway model.

Where most IEPs trip up in CEA accreditation

The CEA Planning, Development, and Review standards have proven tricky for many intensive English programs to get right at the first attempt. The seriousness of failing to measure up has been mitigated in recent years by CEA’s decision to collapse what were four planning and review standards into two – meaning that a program will have fewer standards of concern if it is having difficulty in this area. Nonetheless, the challenge for many programs is that they have never had a plan for regular review of their academic and administrative areas in place. Even knowing what such a plan would look like can be an obstacle to developing one effectively.

I’ve created development and review plans for a rolling-intake proprietary IEP and a semester-based university IEP. They were very different plans, each one tailored to the needs of its program, but both worked well and met CEA standards. If this is an area your IEP is having difficulty with, why not contact me to find out how I can help?

Have a great week!