The Private Side of Public Higher Education
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Helping institutions initiate and expand their online programming has become a$1.5 billion industry that is expected to grow at an estimated annual rate of 35 percent in the coming years. In many cases, there seems little downside for schools to work with OPMs to serve and expand their population of online students—already over a quarter of the 20 million students enrolled in higher education—since most of the upfront costs associated with online learning (i.e. technology development) are shouldered by the outside company in these deals. As a result, schools get the opportunity to launch online programs that they would otherwise never be able to afford. Particularly in light of decreased state spending on higher education, the potential revenue stream online education represents is simply too attractive for many public institutions to pass up.The Century Foundation (TCF) has collected over one hundred of these agreements and communicated with over two hundred institutions regarding their relationships with OPMs. In analyzing these agreements, this report seeks to reveal the extent to which schools have come to rely on private companies to adapt to and adopt new technologies.