Domestic, Education Quality, For-Profit, Not-for-Profit, Required, Students, University & College - Written by on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 12:00 - 0 Comments

Online Enrollment in Higher Education: To Plateau or Grow?

via Flickr under Commons by the Nationaal Archief

Is enrollment in online courses in higher ed reaching a plateau? Perhaps, yes, suggests a 2011 online learning report Babson Survey Research Group and College Board. Enrollment is slower-growing compared to previous years with an increase of only 10.1% in the fall 2010 from the previous year. But there are notable strides in online learning- enrollment in courses and fully online programs are up, student satisfaction is thought to be on par with the in-class learning experience, perceptions of quality among education leaders who support online learning are still strong.

Of course there’s still a lot of work ahead such as standardizing training for online instruction and achieving widespread acceptance of online ed at household name universities. Taking one online course may be considered progressive while completing a degree online can be seen as inferior. There may be upswings in enrollment in the future when online degree programs achieve equality in among employers. Or enrollment growth for online degrees (due to other factors) will be the change-maker achieving respect by numbers.

Report findings show Health Professions has the fastest growth in program enrollment:

The Health professions discipline stands alone, as it appears to be the fastest growing.  It is the only program area showing a greater proportion of programs with enrollment growth, with a decrease in both the proportion with an enrollment decline and a decrease in the proportion with steady year-to-year enrollment.  

But when looking at the type of institution, private for-profits report the biggest program enrollment declines at 19 %, followed by private non-profits at 7% and public at 5%.  These declines are offset by program enrollment growth in other areas do not represent overall enrollment numbers.

2011 Report on Online Learning Key Findings:

  • Over 6.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2010 term, an increase of 560,000 students over the previous year.
  • The 10% growth rate for online enrolments far exceeds the 2% growth in the overall higher education student population.
  • Thirty-one percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.
  • Reported year-to-year enrollment changes for fully online programs by discipline show most are growing.
  • Academic leaders believe that the level of student satisfaction is equal for online and face-to-face courses.
  • 65% of higher education institutions now say that online learning is a critical part of their long-term strategy.
  • There continues to be a consistent minority of academic leaders concerned that the quality of online instruction is not equal to courses delivered face-to-face.
Access Full Report: Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011
The institutions included in the analysis represent 80.0 percent of higher education enrollment.
The sample universe contains 4,523 institutions; a total of 2,512 responses were included in the analysis, representing 55.5 percent of the sample universe.
Recommended Article:
Study: Online Education Continues Growth by Ryan Lytle for U.S. News


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