2022 U of Arkansas System is combining 2 online colleges to boost growth. Will it work?


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Final summer season, the College of Arkansas System made waves when it introduced plans to accumulate Grantham College, a for-profit on-line establishment catering to military-affiliated college students, for simply $1. 

On the time, the system already had an online-only faculty — eVersity, which was launched in 2015. The concept was to finally mix Grantham College with eVersity, a plan that is coming to fruition lower than a 12 months later. 

System trustees voted late final month to approve the shutdown of eVersity and switch its belongings to the acquired establishment, now known as the College of Arkansas Grantham, or UA Grantham. UA Grantham is now a public establishment. 

The system started the transition course of in January, when eVersity stopped accepting new candidates and communicated with current college students about their choices to complete their packages by the summer season time period or switch to Grantham on the similar tuition fee. About 200 college students have graduated because the transition started, and almost 300 college students have “engaged with and enrolled in” Grantham, Nate Hinkel, the system’s director of communications, mentioned in an e-mail. About 120 college students are in eVersity’s remaining session and can both graduate or switch. 

Altogether, the system is closing about two dozen diploma packages at eVersity, all of which have parallel packages at Grantham. 

The plan builds on efforts at eVersity by increasing the system’s on-line diploma choices, rising its footprint on the graduate stage and creating a bigger nationwide presence, Hinkel mentioned. 

“Briefly, it permits us to quickly speed up our development,” Hinkel mentioned. It additionally aligns with the system’s mission, he added. 

It additionally comes at a time when a number of different public methods or universities are shopping for on-line faculties to supercharge their digital choices. The University of Massachusetts and the College of Arizona are simply two different faculties which have lately acquired or affiliated with on-line faculties to serve extra grownup college students — a big market, however one that may be troublesome to interrupt into. 

The net market is way more aggressive than it was a number of years in the past, mentioned Michael Horn, who has written books on the way forward for training.

“And so the price of getting in is commonly vital,” Horn mentioned. “You do not see plenty of universities lately with the ability to do it themselves from a standing begin. You both want actual momentum behind it or an skilled companion.” 

Whereas shopping for on-line faculties can speed up development, these offers aren’t all the time slam dunks. Larger training consultants warn that patrons may battle to mesh the ethos of on-line faculties with the tradition of public universities. Schools might also face heightened public scrutiny in the event that they purchase a for-profit establishment. And they’ll nonetheless need to carve out a distinct segment for themselves in a aggressive on-line market. 

Merging for-profit and public establishments

School mergers and acquisitions are often difficult, with leaders navigating the complexities of mixing two completely different cultures and enterprise operations. Shopping for a for-profit can pose much more difficulties.

In 2017, Purdue College introduced plans to buy Kaplan College for $1, bringing roughly 32,000 college students and a pair of,500 instructors into its fold. Purdue used the acquisition to construct a web based faculty for grownup college students, known as Purdue College World. In the meantime, the previous father or mother firm, Kaplan, offers companies equivalent to advertising to the brand new on-line faculty in return for a share of its income. 

The College of Arizona closed on an identical deal in late 2020, buying the for-profit Ashford College and rebranding the college as the College of Arizona World Campus. The College of Arizona additionally retained Ashford’s father or mother firm, Zovio, as a companies supplier in trade for a reduce of the tutoring income. 


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