- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Some teachers at the University of Kansas are questioning a decision to use a private company to help run a new program designed to attract hundreds of new international students to the school.

The KU Academic Accelerator Program, which will begin in the fall, is a 12-month, three-semester program that will provide academic, social and language help to international students. It will be jointly run by Shorelight Education, a Massachusetts-based company that will recruit the students and provide some auxiliary services, and the university, which will oversee the academics, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/1hkzaYs ).

The university has signed a 15-year contract with Shorelight but either party can withdraw if targets for enrollment and academics aren’t met, said Sara Rosen, vice provost for academic affairs. In March, Douglas County District Court issued an injunction sought by Shorelight that bars release of the contract, which was sought by the Journal-World.

Once administrative expenses are paid, the university and Shorelight will evenly split the tuition money, Rosen said at an April meeting of the University Senate. After a student finishes the KUAAP requirements, the university will retain 90 percent of tuition revenues and Shorelight 10 percent.


Currently, international students make up less than 10 percent of the university’s population. The goal of KUAAP is to increase those numbers to about 15 percent, Rosen said.

The idea of recruiting students for money is troubling, said Lisa Wolf-Wendel, an education professor, who suggested that only students whose parents could afford to pay nonresident tuition would be able to participate, reducing the economic diversity of the university.

She and others at the University Senate meeting also questioned using agents to recruit students. The National Association for College Admission Counseling has cited some abuse by recruiters, such as high-pressure sales tactics and problematic compensation formulas. But the association also said it recognized that agents are a widespread and accepted recruitment tool among U.S. universities.

Basil Cleveland, Shorelight’s co-founder and executive vice president, said agents are only one part of the company’s recruitment efforts and only those agents that have been approved by leading agencies are used.

“If a student identifies a problem, it will be very evident,” he said.

Qi Chen, a senior and student senator, said he wants to be sure students are consulted about the program.

“I think hearing from some current international students would be valuable,” he said. “I just want to make sure no students are harmed in this process.”

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com