Garrett, R. (2009) Online Higher Education Market Update Boston MA: Eduventures Inc.
This post is an expansion of an earlier post ‘For-profits increase market share of online learning‘, now I’ve had a chance to read the original report in full. I am grateful to Eduventures for sharing a copy with me, as the report is not publicly available over the Internet. There is however an excellent short video by the author available from http://www.eduventures.com/resources/video?vid=ohe1.flv
The focus of this report is on the impact of the recession on the online market, but the report also provides some interesting data about competition between for-profit and public institutions for the higher education online market. For instance the for-profit sector has a much higher proportion of the total online market (around 32%) compared with its share of the overall higher education market (about 7%), and seven of the top ten institutions in terms of the number of online enrolments are for-profits. The report goes into the reasons why (mainly better marketing and more ability to respond to demand in the for-profit sector), and the video gives some useful pointers to the public institutions with regard to how they can compete better with the for-profits.
Enrolments in fully online courses are around the 11% mark of all enrolments, and this is expected to increase to 20% by 2014 (about 4 million enrolments). Still more than half (55%) of all US degree-granting institutions offer no fully online courses (down from 69% in 2005). However, Eduventures estimates that of the adult market (25+), 24% are currently in online programs and this is expected to increase to 35-40% by 2014.
Master’s programs are the big growth area in online teaching. The report stated that:
master’s programs offer the best combination of student maturity, short length, career focus and institutional comfort with experimentation-hence often very high online penetration.
The two most popular online master’s subjects in terms of enrolments were business and education, although there was a ‘long tail’ of subjects at this level.
The main message appears to be that for-profit institutions offering 100% online programs such as University pf Phoenix Online and Kaplan are much better placed to expand over the future than public and private universities, who, partly because of faculty resistance and partly because of a wish to exploit the benefits of a physical campus, have neither the desire nor the capacity to expand rapidly into fully online learning. However the demand for online learning is there and is likely to grow, while at the same time campus-based enrolments from high schools are likely to decline over the next few years, due to demographics. Lastly, online enrolments have benefited from the recession in the USA and therefore could act as a stabilizing factor for student enrolment in both for-profit and public universities.