University of Vermont

University Communications

New Partnership Program Brings 28 Chinese Undergraduate Students to UVM

Release Date: 06-09-2010

Author: Jeffrey R. Wakefield
Phone: 802/656-2005 Fax: (802) 656-3203

Twenty-eight Chinese international students began their UVM undergraduate careers this week, part of an innovative program the University of Vermont is participating in called the U.S.-Sino Pathway Program (USPP).

USPP is a newly formed partnership between the Consortium of North American Universities, including Baylor University, Northeastern University, and the University of Utah, as well as UVM, and global education service provider Kaplan China.

The program is premised on the idea that most international students need more than English language skills to succeed in American higher education. Before enrolling at one of the partnership schools, the 179 Chinese students selected for the program spent a foundational year studying at one of eight Kaplan China centers, located in Beijing, Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Shanghai and Suzhou.

The curriculum covered not only academic subjects but provided an opportunity for students to practice English in an academic setting, become familiar with English language textbooks, and pick up skills like PowerPoint. Students were also encouraged to participate in class discussions and speak with professors after class.

The preparation culminates in a third term, the Summer Bridge, which students are beginning this week. University of Vermont USPP students are studying at UVM. Students from the three other universities are at Northeastern. The students arrived on Monday night.

After the three terms, USPP students enroll in the consortium universities as sophomores.

Broad-based effort

The USPP program is part of a broad based effort at UVM to increase its international enrollment.

"Enrolling more international students is one of our key strategic goals," said Chris Lucier, vice president for enrollment management. "All UVM students will benefit significantly from living and studying with students from other countries and cultures, especially those who aren't able to study abroad," he said.

The number of undergraduate degree-seeking international students at UVM will nearly double in the fall, from 60 to 110. That increase will "have a very positive impact on the UVM community and begins a transition that will fundamentally change the university in future years," he said.

International students currently make up .6 percent of undergraduate enrollment at UVM. The university's goal is to increase that percentage to above 3 percent within five years, with the USPP partnership contributing 40 to 60 students per year.

Acclimate and study

Summer Bridge is designed to acclimate USPP students to daily life in the United States and enable them to complete their first year of undergraduate studies. During the 10-week program, students will take two intermediate-level courses in their field of study, a core college writing course and two one-credit classes, a science lab and an Exploring America and Vermont course, consisting of seminars and regional field trips to cultural centers and historical sites.

Chinese students are admitted to a Kaplan China center based on their high school record, an English proficiency exam, and other factors such as a student interview. Once admitted, students who successfully complete the International Foundation Year are guaranteed admission to one of the consortium universities, based upon each of those institution's individual admissions standards.

Kaplan China currently has similar partnerships with more than 20 colleges and universities in the United Kingdom and Australia, providing academic preparation and transition support to Chinese students seeking to enter higher education in those countries. The retention rate of Chinese students in these programs -- from admission through university graduation -- is more than 90 percent. The USPP will be Kaplan China's first partnership with schools in the U.S.