Underscoring the Value of a School of Record Partnership

Underscoring the Value of a School of Record Partnership
jeremy geller

Back in the days when I was promoting student and scholar international mobility (and particularly undergraduate education abroad) through U.S. college and university posts, I enjoyed close working relationships with numerous organizations abroad. Most were formally affiliated with my institution and approved by faculty members or departments on campus, which enabled students to gain credit upon successful completion of courses taken abroad. This, I’m sure, is a familiar scenario to most readers of Gateway Voices. When things went well, we were all proud, and students had high-impact and meaningful learning experiences.

The problem, of course, was that faculty or departmental approvals could be rescinded for any number of reasons (and through no fault of the organization or the education abroad office), thus leaving organizations—especially small ones—in precarious positions, not to mention leaving students and/or the education abroad office in the lurch. I was sometimes able to intercede and assure continuity or resumption of programs and could build or sustain agreements with other institutions to supplement the flow of students from mine. While my interventions resulted in continued enrollment, the precariousness of the partnerships remained unchanged.

Precarity seems to be a constant for organizations that provide education abroad programming for U.S. students but lack accreditation from regional or national authorities to grant tertiary credit. The inability to grant transferrable credit thus becomes a key impediment to the enrollment growth of such organizations. Moreover, students’ inability to rally advocacy on their campus to ensure that one-off, unofficial grade reports are sufficient to receive credit, limits their choice of programs.

Establishing a School of Record partnership, however, can ease that element of precarity. It can increase the organization’s enrollment, visibility, and stature, and it can offer new curricular breadth and revenue to a recording institution. And for students, it removes the obstacle posed by the lack of legible credits for their studies at non-university organizations abroad. Gateway International Group offers a unique service to broker School of Record partnerships.

As a case in point, the Spanish Institute for Global Education has been providing instruction and student services in Seville for forty years, and has been sustaining enrollments based on institutional agreements. But the shifting seas and fortunes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic underscored to the Spanish Institute that it was time for change. They decided to seek a School of Record partnership and, after exhaustive review of its curriculum, recently partnered with the University of Montana. U.S. students at the Spanish Institute can now return to their home campus with an official transcript from the University of Montana, legible indeed to any college or university registrar’s office.

This bodes well not only for the prospect of recruiting individual students, but also for establishing new institutional affiliations (and this is already the case for the Spanish Institute). The recording institution’s willingness to stand behind the organization’s curriculum is, of course, a vote of confidence. But the ability to transfer credit from another U.S. institution can offer a more cost-effective financial model for students, for example, at an affiliated institution that would otherwise charge its own (potentially high) tuition and fees per credit.

As such, School of Record partnerships offer an antidote to precarity for education abroad organizations and foster growth on both sides of the partnership, while offering students more choice in programs, a win-win-win proposition.

About the author: Jeremy Geller is a senior leader in international education and experiential learning with broad college- and university-based expertise. At his most recent university post he managed a successful School of Record partnership, assuring mutually fair and beneficial structures and practices. He is a Gateway Affiliate based in Connecticut and New York.

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Mark Beirn


An experienced global researcher and administrator, Mark Beirn brings a critical approach to risk management, factoring structural racism and identity-based violence into his rubric for supporting equitable global mobility.

Specialization Areas:

– Global Risk Management
– Education Abroad
– Diversity, Equity, Inclusion in International Education
– Health and Safety
– Curriculum Development


Stephen Appiah-Padi​


Stephen Appiah-Padi is an international educator with several years of teaching and administrative experience in both 4 and 2-year HEIs. An experienced global education practitioner-scholar, with a demonstrated history of success in the field.

Dr. Appiah-Padi has a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada in Educational Policy & Administration with a specialization in International/Intercultural Education.

At Northwestern College, he provided oversight in the administration of education abroad and international student services. In Lansing, Michigan, he first oversaw diversity and intercultural education at Lansing Community College, and later created the Center for International and Intercultural Education (CIIE) which merged intercultural engagement and international education programs of the institution, and he became its first director. Additionally, Dr. Appiah-Padi taught a course, “Diversity in the American Workplace”, to undergraduate management students of the College. In his current position, he provides leadership and vision in advancing strategic internationalization initiatives, including international partnerships and study abroad programs at Bucknell University.

Dr Appiah-Padi has created and facilitated several workshops for faculty and staff development in higher education and in business organizations. He has presented at several national and international conferences. In NAFSA, among several volunteer leadership positions, he has served as Dean of the Fundamentals of Intercultural Communication Workshop, the Leadership Development Committee member, Chair of the Africa Special Interest Group, and a Fellow of the Global Fellowship Program for mentoring emerging leaders of internationalization in African HEIs. He currently serves as a member of the NAFSA Board of Directors.

Specialization Areas:

– Education Abroad
– International education leadership development
– Intercultural education and engagement
– International partnerships and linkages

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Rosa Almoguera


Dr. Rosa Almoguera has worked as an international educator for over twenty years. She was trained as a Hispanic Philologist at the Universidad Complutense, in Madrid, and did her M.A. at the University of Pennsylvania. Her Ph.D., from Universidad Complutense included a field study and edition of written balladry “Romancero”. During many years Rosa combined teaching and her role as a senior administrator at the Fundación Ortega-Marañón in Toledo, Spain. At the Foundation, Rosa directed and, in many cases created, programs for the University of Minnesota, Notre Dame, Princeton, Ohio State, Arcadia, and the University of Chicago. She has also been a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, University of Portland, and Interamericana de Puerto Rico.

Beginning in 2016, Rosa works as an international education consultant for both public and private European and US higher education institutions. Rosa has been successful in developing new partnerships and programs, as well as helping improve already existing ones.

Rosa is a member of Forum and NAFSA and has presented with higher education professionals on innovative academic and research programming, STEM in study abroad and Nationalism in Europe. Rosa is currently completing the final Professional Certification from the Forum on Education Abroad.

Specialization Areas:

– Student services
– Education abroad programming
– Institutional partnerships
– Education and training

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