Thursday, August 31, 2006

Univ of ILL to start for profit online "campus"


"All three (exisiting) campuses have some distance education programs, but the university system is now getting ready to launch a whole new campus, creating an online division that could eventually rival the individual campuses in enrollment levels, operating in a very different environment. The University of Illinois Global Campus would be operated as a separate for-profit entity, have almost entirely part-time faculty members (and none with tenure), and focus on a relatively small number of degree programs.

The idea, according to Illinois officials, is to learn from a variety of models out there that are growing rapidly (UMass Online, University of Maryland University College, and the University of Phoenix), while also learning from some of the failed attempts of the dot-com boom, when many colleges started online, for-profit spinoffs with much hype — only to see them go nowhere.

“This could be extremely significant in the online landscape,” said Trace Urdan, who tracks education ventures for the Signal Hill Capital Group. The Illinois effort reflects a number of key trends, he said: the continued growing popularity of online education, the desire of many adults to study not only online but with an institution they know well, and the realization of many public universities that they need different types of models to compete for these students — while not promising the moon overnight, as some institutions did 10 years ago."