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Report: Private Colleges, Universities Expand Online Learning Opportunities

Online education programs and courses are on the rise at private colleges and universities compared to three years ago, according to a new report from the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and Learning House.

In 2013, CIC and Learning House conducted a similar survey of chief academic officers at private colleges and universities, finding that about 15 percent have “extensive” online offerings (defined as five or more fully online programs). The latest survey, comprising responses from 169 chief academic officers of CIC member institutions, found that 25 percent now have extensive offerings.

Furthermore, the survey found that private colleges and universities are growing increasingly accepting of online instruction, with more private institutions overcoming barriers to offer online programs. In 2013, nine in 10 responding CIC member institutions said that they at one point encountered obstacles which “prevented them from growing the number of online courses or programs they were offering,” the report states. A lack of acceptance from faculty was seen as the greatest challenge (referenced by 86 percent of respondents), but now less than half of respondents (48 percent) said these barriers still exist at their institutions.  

Other key findings include:

  • 16 percent of smaller private institutions (fewer than 750 students) offer a “limited” number of hybrid or online courses, while 65 percent of larger institutions (more than 2,250 students) have limited programs, indicating a correlation between institutional size and number of online programs offered;
  • Offering online programs has allowed almost two-thirds of the private institutions (64 percent) to increase their revenue (up from 59 percent in 2013), with a quarter of respondents reporting online revenue greater than $1 million; and
  • Two-thirds of the institutions report increased online enrollment as well (compared to 60 percent in 2013), and more than half of the private institutions reached students “outside of what they would consider their traditional service area.”  

The full report can be downloaded on the Learning House site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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