Distance learning enrollment ticks up, though for-profits see declines

Dive Brief:

  • Distance learning continues to grow, with more than six million higher ed students taking at least one distance education course in 2015, according to a report from Digital Learning Compass.
  • The report found growth at non-profit institutions occurred at a rate of 11.4%, while private for-profit institutions, on the other hand, saw their distance enrollment numbers decline at a rate of 9.4%.
  • Year-over-year, the number of students enrolled in a distance education class grew by 3.9%, and more than one in four students enrolled in higher ed took at least one distance education class.

Dive Insight:

The 2015 drop in enrollment at for-profit distance learning universities could be due in large part to the trouble of big-name institutions like the University of Phoenix. The Federal Trade Commission announced it had opened an investigation into potentially unscrupulous marketing tactics in April of that year, while the for-profit giant reported massive drops in enrollment.

Increases in the number of students at non-profit institutions enrolled in one distance education class are likely due to the increase of availability of online options at these schools. Colleges and universities around the country are considering incorporating online learning, as it could be a potential revenue boost at a comparatively lower cost, in comparison to expanding and maintaining new physical facilities.

Filed Under: Higher Ed Technology Online Learning
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