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Monday, April 21, 10:14 a.m.
Opinion

Editorial: Study Group, UMaine partnership has chance to fill real need

Hopefully the University of Maine System’s new partnership with international student recruitment organization Study Group USA Higher Education LLC will be a proactive move, firstly to promote the university as one that embraces and indeed actively seeks international student enrollment, and secondly to actually enrich and broaden the cultural diversity, noticeably lacking across both campus and statewide communities. It could also potentially generate some ever-needed cash flow — provided its proceeds are put to proper use.

The recruitment dimension of this new partnership serves as a gesture to any interested international students that UMaine and the University of Southern Maine are interested to enroll, in addition to reaching out particularly to high-caliber students who want to continue in their field of study while advancing their English language proficiency.

If the program is successful, a welcome result of this influx of international students, will be Maine students’ increased exposure to and awareness of other cultural traditions and practices. It is a brilliant opportunity that provides students the platform to become active participants in the international community, with education as the adhesive, binding together a more diverse population than our regional placement has historically afforded us.

The cost of this program is yet to be determined by UMS. However, UMS intends to balance the total from the recruited students’ tuition, which will hopefully yield a transparent account of the profits generated by the partnership with Study Group. This of course begs questions as to the application of these tuition dollars, and to what end? UMS administrators have suggested the revenue generated will be used to “strengthen the core academic programs” and “broaden the array of programs” at the university. This seems a highly supportable and endorsable notion, if only it were a little more specific. In the meantime, however, some of the fees UMS will be liable to pay for the program will be used to provide study centers intended to enhance the experience for international students — this would inarguably be a worthwhile expenditure.

This certainly would appear to have several benefits in the immediate future, even a notable few that aren’t part of the initial calculus behind the decision to partner with Study Group — one possibility is that UMaine students could one day utilize their services in the same way. All that remains to be seen is whether everything goes according to plan, which is intended to begin at the fall 2013 semester.