Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Purdue-Kaplan: Is Disruption Knocking?

Last month Purdue University announced they were going to acquire Kaplan University, an online for-profit institution. The NewU ...
... will be distinct from others in the Purdue system, relying only on tuition and fundraising to cover operating expenses. No state appropriations will be utilized. It will operate primarily online, but has 15 locations across the United States, including an existing facility in Indianapolis, with potential for growth throughout the state. Indiana resident students will receive a yet-to-be-determined tuition discount.
The deal has the potential to bring down tuition costs, enhance access, and provide Purdue's solid brand name. Here are some reactions to news:

1. Purdue's official statement is, of course, positive.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “I’ve always had great respect for Gov. Daniels, and I’m excited by this opportunity for a world-class university to expand its reach and help educate adult learners by acquiring a strong for-profit college. This is a first, and if successful, could help create a new model for what it means to be a land-grant institution.”
2. However, questions are being raised (NPR).
The deal is eye-catching, but also part of a trend. Over the past decade dozens of nonprofit universities have contracted with private companies to expand their online offerings. For example, Arizona State University works with Pearson, and the University of Southern California with a company called 2U. Florida A&M and South Carolina State, both historically black institutions, have partnered with the University of Phoenix. In an atmosphere of ever-skinnier state budgets, these programs enable universities to reach a global market, cater to working adults, and potentially increase revenue without expensive capital investment.
3.  The faculty at Purdue is not happy (InsideHigherEd)
No faculty input was sought before the acquisition decision was made, and no assessment of its impact on Purdue’s academic quality was completed, according to the resolution. The resolution proceeded to fault a lack of transparency and a lack of an impact study on how the acquisition will affect faculty, curriculum, students and staff at Purdue. The resolution also wondered what will happen to faculty governance and academic freedom at Purdue’s newly acquired university. And it said previously Purdue’s administration has gone through University Senate structures -- which include faculty input -- when pursuing program restructuring or creation.
4.  An interview with the seller, Donald Graham, chairman of Graham Holdings.

[Q:] I see what Purdue gets from the arrangement—a jumpstart into providing online courses. But what does Graham Holdings get out of this deal? 
Graham: [...] You asked about when Graham Holdings shareholders might be rewarded. The only way we would be rewarded, the only way we would get a growing stream of revenue, would be if Purdue continued over the years to add students. In other words if the university became a big success under Purdue's leadership, we'll be part of that success. But we will not be a participant in any profits. We're out of the for-profit education business here. We will be paid for our services, and the profits if any will go to Purdue, and hopefully back into the whole educational system.
5. Some older links to universities, MOOCs and online education

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