A group of Chinese students in desks in a classroom watch Khalid Ibrahim instruct
Khalid Ibrahim, President of ON Language, explains an assignment to a group of education majors from Brenau's 2+2 program with Anhui Normal University during an ON Language class at Brenau University. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

ON Language changes how Brenau can admit international students

Feb 7, 2020
Kristen Bowman
Khalid Ibrahim holds papers in front of a marker board
Khalid Ibrahim, President of ON Language, explains an assignment to a group of education majors from Brenau’s 2+2 program with Anhui Normal University during an ON Language class at Brenau University. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Brenau University’s partner language school ON Language, which offers English instruction on the university’s campus in Gainesville, Georgia, recently received official, initial approval to admit international students from the federal Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP).

This not only changes the way the immersive language school admits international students, but changes the way Brenau international students can receive admittance to the university.

According to ON Language founders, CEO Lenore Morales and President Khalid Ibrahim, this “opens the world to ON Language and introduces ON Language to the world.”

“We’re really excited about achieving this step,” Morales said. “Schools like ours — intensive English programs — must be approved by the U.S. government in order to recruit their own international students. It’s a long process. Now that we’re approved, we can recruit our own international students to be admitted to our program.”

Prior to the approval — which specifically authorizes ON Language to issue Form I-20 to nonimmigrant international students seeking student visas for study in the intensive English language program at its main branch on the Brenau Gainesville campus — ON Language could only recruit and educate locally. Its students have primarily been Brenau students in international programs and international working adults from Gainesville’s manufacturing industry.

Morales said she expects the school’s new recruits to be young individuals who do hope to advance to a college or university in the United States, but who want to start with an immersive language program in the country, first.

While these recruits would not be Brenau students, the approval also changes the future for international Brenau students, according to Ibrahim.

“By having ON Language able to admit international students as full-time language students, Brenau prospective international students are no longer required to obtain a minimum English language proficiency score on a standardized test such as TOEFL and IELTS in order to be eligible to be admitted into Brenau,” Ibrahim explained. “Rather, those prospective students can be conditionally admitted into Brenau and enroll with ON Language to study English. They would be admitted into Brenau on the condition that they complete their English language studies at ON language first.”

Prior to the approval, international students who did not meet the required language proficiency simply were not admitted to Brenau. Ibrahim said this new development will vastly expand Brenau’s international student market and will make Brenau far more accessible to such students.

ON Language teaches and serves international students, as well as Gainesville area English language learners, at its main branch on the historic Brenau University campus. The ON Language mission is to facilitate learners’ acquisition and development of English language and global leadership skills.

“Any additional language support that we can give our students is crucial to their success, which is our priority,” said Jordan Anderson, Brenau director of international initiatives. “It’s been great to work with ON Language and Khalid specifically on the Gainesville campus over the past few years, and I’m looking forward to seeing the opportunities that this will bring us as we continue our collaboration between ON Language and Brenau University.”

Ibrahim and Morales created ON Language in Columbia, South Carolina in 2015. They opened the Georgia branch in 2016, when their company first partnered with Brenau University to provide English language instruction for Brenau international students.

Ibrahim said he’s thrilled with the official approval and “happy for what this means for our partnership with Brenau and the great people working there.”

Morales called the partnership serendipitous for all parties.

“We’re going through our strategic plan and have goals of increasing our enrollment, engaging in this international student recruiting and engaging with institutions overseas in addition to our partnership with Brenau,” she said. “We don’t have that cap anymore, and we can go forward to achieve our mission. Now we can finally offer our program to anyone who is eligible to come to the U.S.”