The international contract of mystery

The contract between UVM and Study Group, a private international student recruiting firm, is partially redacted under a public records exemption — something the Cynic believes the campus community should know about


A page from the Study Group contract. Click on this image to view the entire contract.
A page from the Study Group contract.

[dropcap style=”normal”]I[/dropcap]nternational students have been steadily flowing into UVM, from just 73 international undergraduates in 2009 to 268 last year. This steady increase is overall positive: International students bring a lot to a university.

On top of making the campus more diverse — a deeply important way to cultivate graduates who will be more capable and empathetic human beings — international students bring two other deep incentives to any college administration: money and prestige.


[btn type=”default or primary or success or info or warning or danger or link” link=””]Click here to view the entire contract[/btn]


International students pay the full price of a UVM education — $53,864 — but, unlike their American peers, they will be hard pressed to find employment in Burlington because of restrictions on their student visas.

The prestige factor stems from a core message a large international student population sends: people will travel from all over the world for a UVM degree. The incentive is so large, in fact, that UVM hired help in January 2013 from an Australian international student recruiting firm, Study Group USA.

The contract between UVM and Study Group is valid until 2018. Advantageously, UVM doesn’t directly pay for Study Group services, aside from providing and maintaining the space for the Global Gateway Program (the moniker for the international student program maintained by Study Group for UVM).

Rather, a cut of the international students’ tuition is given to Study Group as commission. But much like the rest of the arrangement between Study Group and UVM, exactly how much tuition is given per student is known only to administrators and the corporation.

Much like the rest of the arrangement between Study Group and UVM, exactly how much tuition is given to Study Group per student is known only to administrators and Study Group

Last semester, the Cynic requested the contract between Study Group USA and UVM. Much of the contract is redacted under one of the 40 exceptions to Vermont’s public records law, in this case the exemption for trade secrets. The contract, in full, is available on the website.

Some of the key exemptions in the contract: The GPA necessary to become a matriculated student, the amount Study Group receives for students not recruited by Study Group but still in their Pathway Program, and the amount Study Group will remit to UVM in tuition and room and board fees, and the tuition charge for Study Group’s “intensive English semester.”

All the details of any student support services Study Group provides, and conversely, details of student support services Study Group will not provide, 48 bullet points in total.

This program undoubtedly is responsible for bringing hundreds of students from across the globe to our community. It’s responsible for sparking lifelong relationships and for helping foreigners and Americans alike to gain one of the best educations available to anyone in the world.

Yet, what is strikingly odd about the contract between the two parties is that the most basic information within seems to have been redacted.

It remains to be seen why the minimum GPA for a prospective student or basic tuition rates would be information deemed so sensitive as to have been removed from public view; but it seemingly shrouds important aspects of the contract in needless mystery – especially of a group of people we should wholeheartedly, and publiclly,  welcome to UVM.