LEE, Maine — Seeking to benefit from Lee Academy’s burgeoning Asian recruitment, University of Maine at Fort Kent officials signed an agreement to automatically accept the academy’s international students if they meet certain standards, officials said Wednesday.
UMFK President Richard Cost and Lee Academy Headmaster Bruce Lindberg signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday facilitating the university enrollment. For the university, the agreement hedges against slightly declining populations and should boost the school’s coffers, Cost said.
“Our primary market is and will always be the St. John Valley,” Cost said Wednesday, “but we improve the quality of the education we provide everyone as we increase the diversity of our students, both the U.S. population and students from South Africa, Asia, all over the globe.
The university has a small percentage of international students, Cost said — counting Canadians, about 150 out of about 1,100. The school’s enrollment peaked at about 1,200 two years ago.
Tuition fees and room and board for in-state students living in dormitories is $13,002 annually, Cost said. Out-of-state and international students pay $21,612. Cost expects that from three to 10 Lee Academy Asian students will enroll next fall, with as many as 30 eventually enrolling.
The agreement adds to Lee Academy’s attractiveness in the international student market, Lindberg said.
“Obviously the first thing they [international students] are looking for when they come here is to go to a university,” Lindberg said Wednesday. “Whether they wind up at Fort Kent or the University of Indiana, they have a target to shoot at. They know if they reach this, college is a guarantee.”
To qualify to attend the Fort Kent campus, the international students must earn at least a 1,350 on the SATs and score well on the Test of English as a Foreign Language, Cost said.
As of September, 86 national and international students are enrolled at Lee and living in dorms, including 33 Chinese students. That’s up from 68 last year. That student enrollment will increase by as many as 10 students in January, Lindberg has said.
Lindberg signed agreements in July with Chinese authorities to create three Lee Academy high school campuses in three Chinese cities in September 2009. The private academy’s contract to create the first American high school on the Chinese mainland, in Wuhan, was signed in April.
Lindberg is negotiating similar college deals with University of Maine at Presque Isle and Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, he said.