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Deal with Independent Colleges Expands Online Course Sharing Options

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The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and College Consortium recently hammered out an online course-sharing initiative. The program is intended to help the private schools increase course access to students, with all kinds of benefits. The CIC has nearly 700 small, private colleges and universities among its members; the College Consortium produces technology that allows its members to share courses, credits and tuition.

The College Consortium already has agreements with a number of other institutional consortia; but, according to reporting by edscoop, the CIC deal brings in the largest number of potential member schools. An FAQ on CIC's website stated that during the College Consortium's first year of operation:

  • Participating pilot institutions in Texas saw improved graduation rates of 3 to 5 percent;
  • A pilot school in Illinois improved its first-year retention by 3 percent;
  • 300-plus students advanced their education by enrolling in courses over the summer over which their home institutions had no approval;
  • More than 75 students took back-up courses to replace their D/F/W grades;
  • College athletes were able to participate in their spring sports by taking winter term courses elsewhere that were only available in their home schools during the spring; and
  • Consortium member institutions generated an additional $2 million.

Under the new arrangement, named the "CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium," CIC will enable its members to address course availability issues, whether that's allowing students to take courses elsewhere when they're not available at the home campus; to fill in "last-minute" graduation gaps that might prevent a student from obtaining a degree; as a retention option for non-traditional students or those who are on the brink of withdrawing; to help support a specific combination of courses in a specialized academic program; or to test new program areas.

Currently, 18 schools are listed as participants, either making their classes available to others or allowing their students to take courses elsewhere, or both. To participate, a "home institution" pays an annual platform access fee of $1,000; the teaching institution pays that as well as a $2,000 teaching fee. Then the home school charges its normal tuition (an average of $1,300, according to an article on Inside Higher Ed), with the expectation that the teaching college will charge less than full tuition, since it's simply filling a seat that would otherwise be empty. The teaching college receives three-quarters of the fee it charges, and the rest of the fee goes to the College Consortium. The remainder is handed over to the home institution.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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