Why State Universities Are Buying Up Online Colleges

EdSurge Podcast

Why State Universities Are Buying Up Online Colleges

By Jeffrey R. Young     Sep 6, 2022

Why State Universities Are Buying Up Online Colleges

This article is part of the guide The EdSurge Podcast.

Even before the pandemic, big-name colleges and universities were getting serious about online education. And that already-growing interest has ballooned since COVID-19 forced pretty much every institution to teach temporarily online.

But we’ve seen an interesting trend in how some state universities have decided to get into online learning—with a big splash. Here’s the emerging approach: buy an existing online college that already has thousands or even tens of thousands of students.

Purdue University did it in 2017 when it purchased the for-profit Kaplan University, which boasted about 32,000 students, most of them online. The University of Arizona followed the same playbook in 2020 when it bought for-profit Ashford University, which had 35,000 online students at the time. And more recently, the University of Massachusetts announced that it would essentially buy control of Brandman University, a nonprofit institution with roughly 10,000 online students.

Why don’t these well-known universities just build their own online campuses instead of buying institutions with a very different faculty and model? And what does it say about the future of online education, both at colleges and schools?

We’re digging into those questions for this week's EdSurge Podcast.

To help do that, EdSurge talked with the new chancellor of UMass Global, David Andrews. UMass Global is still adjusting to its fusion last year with Brandman University. Brandman was created as a spinoff by Chapman University in 1958 to serve students in the military and other nontraditional-age students.

Andrews has been at the helm for only a few months, and he brings an interesting perspective as someone who has long worked to use technology to better tailor education to individual students. He was most recently president of National University, and before that was dean of education at Johns Hopkins University.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts, or use the player on this page.

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