OXFORD, Miss. and BOSTON – The University of Mississippi and Shorelight Education have launched a joint program, Ole Miss International, to broaden global access to UM’s highly regarded undergraduate and graduate programs for international students.

Ole Miss International will welcome its first cohort starting in fall 2019.

UM and Boston-based Shorelight created this personalized program to enrich the university’s campus community and enhance its educational experience with unparalleled international student support services. Shorelight uses a proprietary database that identifies the strongest areas of international demand for a U.S. higher education experience.

With a distribution network in more than 150 countries, Shorelight operates across multiple channels, including digital marketing, high school promotion, sponsorship agencies and a network of counselors.

Despite overall declines in international student enrollment numbers nationwide, Shorelight’s partner university enrollments are up more than 40 percent nationally.

“This strategic initiative advances our university’s priority of educating and engaging global citizens,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “We look forward to expanding our international footprint and extending educational opportunities to even more students across the world.”

In January, the university and Shorelight agreed on a partnership that will support the recruitment, retention and success of international students at UM, as well as elevate the global presence of the university. Shorelight Education partners with top-ranked, nonprofit American universities to build comprehensive programs and services that are both high-touch and technology-driven to help talented students succeed on campus and become globally minded alumni.

With the first students of the program set to arrive next fall, Vitter emphasized the importance of providing robust learning environments with a rich diversity of talents, cultures and contributions.

“I believe that excellence and diversity go hand in hand,” he said. “Diversity makes our ideas better, our approaches more effective, our results stronger and our relationships deeper.

“Not only will this partnership expand the diversity of our global outreach, but it also will enhance the academic and social experience for all of us in the Ole Miss community.”

Shorelight Education CEO and co-founder Tom Dretler signs a contract partnering with the University of Mississippi to attract more international students to the university. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging ServicesShorelight has seen a 92 percent progression rate for its students across all its partnerships – well above the national average.

Shorelight CEO Tom Dretler attributed continued enrollment growth in the company’s programs to the quality of its partners, its multichannel approach to identifying talented students and its industry-leading support services to ensure academic success.

“There is extraordinary international student demand for undergraduate and graduate degrees from top U.S. universities like Ole Miss,” Dretler said. “Our approach is to tap into that demand in over 150 counties and use our technology platforms and best-in-class support services to deliver an outstanding experience.

“Our programs would not be thriving as they are today without our partnerships with top-tier universities like Ole Miss that provide international students with access to high-demand degree programs.”

Through this new partnership, UM and Shorelight share a common mission centered on student success.

“It’s not just about recruiting the right students for the university,” Dretler said. “Our focus is on equipping students with the tools and resources needed to succeed and become globally minded alumni.”

For the current academic semester, UM has 875 international students enrolled, not including students enrolled in Optional Practical Training, a temporary employment that is directly related to an international student’s major area of study.

“The accelerator programs offered by the University of Mississippi with Ole Miss International will provide a comprehensive path for international students in their cultural adjustment, career development and academic success at the University of Mississippi,” said Blair McElroy, UM senior international officer and director of the Study Abroad Office.

According to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators, international students in Mississippi contributed $87.1 million to the state’s economy in 2016, supporting 907 jobs.