Six years ago, going online created major advantages – and often record program enrollments -- for non-profit public universities. Those days are over. Now, demand for online programs in the U.S. is being met by more than 1,000 degree-granting institutions, creating a saturation point for supply and transitioning online degree programs into more of a defensive strategy than a growth opportunity for schools.
The initial surge in enrollments and revenue that rewarded early movers came from a pent-up demand for higher education among working adults in corporations, public schools and healthcare facilities. At the time, these people had only a few online providers to choose from, predominately expensive for-profit, proprietary schools.
Higher education’s economic model is pressured by an oversupply of more than 4,000 post-secondary institutions, high delivery costs, tuition discounting and declining public subsidies. It seems clear that public universities must continue to evolve, and do so more rapidly than before.
Future success most definitely will include a global component, as more and more universities come to realize that the geographical boundaries of the old-school approach are giving way – and that “going global” offers a means to offset the continuing march of budget cuts and resource limitations. Public universities still have a historical responsibility to educate their home state. But with the advent of sophisticated online communications, higher education has the possibility to move out into the wider world. Indeed, true globalization is about more than just importing foreign students to campus or arranging fleeting semesters overseas. Now, it can mean exporting American knowledge to the rest of the world.Read More
Self-sufficiency is a ubiquitous aspiration for individuals as well as institutions, to achieve self-reliance and exist beholden to none. For public universities, however, self-sufficiency is less of an aspiration and more of a mandate, given the current environment of declining and unreliable state funding for higher education.
Growth is central to institutional self-sufficiency, because in the near future, only two types of universities will exist: those with growing enrollment, and those with declining enrollment. Remaining static is not an option in today’s highly competitive environment. Universities that are growing will be adding programs and faculty, while schools with declining enrollments will be cutting programs and staff.Read More
In trying to boost enrollment, large numbers of American universities are discounting tuition, many up to 50 percent, through scholarships, grants and other forms of aid. While the practice may draw more students at the outset, the flow will stop when the price-cutting inevitably ends. Deep discounting can jeopardize the long-term financial health of an institution.
At a time when colleges and universities face unprecedented competition, uncertain state funding and creeping public doubts about the net value of higher education, the most certain path for public universities is to intentionally generate enrollment growth by investing in smart marketing -- a proven strategy that has helped many universities grow and thrive, even in today’s challenging macro-environment.Read More