NAFSA Launches New Research on Pathway Partnerships in the United States


Study Examines Emerging Trend in International Student Enrollment


Rebecca Morgan, 202.737.3699 x4449,

 DENVER, Colo., May 31, 2016 – NAFSA: Association of International Educators, launches new research, The Landscape of Pathway Partnerships in the United States, to deepen the understanding of an emerging trend in international student enrollment management.

International educators encounter changes triggered by pathway partnerships, while evaluating the impact and navigating the outcomes. The process of considering and implementing pathway partnerships has implications for campus stakeholders in different roles, including recruitment and admissions, academic services, and related support services.

“There is a need to better understand this emerging trend so that our members from diverse higher education institutions can make informed choices and enhance the impact of their international enrollment strategies,” says Joann Ng Hartmann, Senior Director, IEM-ISS Services, NAFSA and manager of the research project. “With this research, our intention is to identify current models and key factors in decision-making to advance the field of knowledge for the benefit of our members. This research does not make comparisons amongst providers.”

In the first phase, the research analyzed publicly available data of 45 higher education institutions partnering with eight pathway providers. For the purpose of this research, pathway providers “are private third-party entities partnering with institutions to recruit international students and offer English-language preparation with academic coursework applicable toward graduation requirements.” The research examined key characteristics of institutions engaged in pathway relationships.

“More than half of the institutions partnering with pathway providers do not have national rankings. Given that many international students consider rankings in their decision-making process, some of these institutions struggle to attract international students,” explained Rahul Choudaha, Ph.D., principal researcher and CEO of DrEducation, LLC, global higher education research and consulting firm. “It seems that by partnering with pathway providers, institutions aim to expand the applicant pool to international students who are not ranking-conscious and at the same time require additional English preparation to meet admissions requirements.”

The next phase of the research will examine the complexity and diversity of decision-making processes related to pathway partnerships by taking a deeper dive into rationales, considerations and experiences of international educators. It aims to not only examine why institutions considered pathway partnerships, but also the key factors that go into making the decisions and the institutional experiences with pathway partnerships.

The final report of this first phase of research will be released in Fall 2016.


Sample tweet: New @NAFSA Pathways for Partnerships research, examines options for #highered institutions to recruit and retain international students  #NAFSA16

About NAFSA: With more than 10,000 members, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world's largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education. Visit us at To learn more about our advocacy efforts on behalf of international education, visit and @ConnectOurWorld on Twitter.