US online pioneer vows greater push to slash post-pandemic tuition – Times Higher Education (THE)

Posted: April 23, 2020 at 11:46 am

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Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), the massive not-for-profit online innovator, is taking the moment of thecoronavirus pandemicto permanently trim its in-person operations to a remotely delivered minimum.

Regardless of when its physical campus in Manchester is safe to reoccupy, SNHU said it plans to cut its base annual tuition charge there from $3,100 (2,500) to $1,000 and to find all available methods of teaching at that price.

SNHU had already been planning to move in that direction over time, its president, Paul LeBlanc, said in an interview. But the virus-driven economic downturn with US unemployment already triple the 8million of the 2009 recession demands that it happen right now, even if all details are not yet finalised, Dr LeBlanc said.

Our families are going to be reeling, he said, and weve got to be prepared with a better answer.

SNHU, with 3,000 on-campus students and more than 135,000 online, has long beencarving outa unique space in post-secondary education that competitors seem unsure whether toenvy or dismisspending moreperformance data.

While for-profit operators have given online teaching a reputation for short-changing students, Dr LeBlanc has emphasised the approachs potential to lower costs and deliver personalised instruction that credits skills gained outside formal class settings.

SNHUs future will retain that approach for its online population while waging an all-out assault on expenditures that are not absolutely necessary on the physical campus.

Easier examples, he said, could include using staff from the online operation, known as College for America, to provide non-academic services such as financial counselling; converting its campus health services to tele-medicine formats; and renting out sports facilities when not used by students.

More fundamentally, Dr LeBlanc envisages more on-campus students taking courses online, plus a rapid expansion of SNHUs Project Atlas, which moves faculty from traditional classrooms to mentor-facilitator roles in which they guide students who learn largely through individual projects or off-campus employment.

Faculty may even be relieved of grading, as SNHU is working with UK-based Pearson to implement assessment systemsdriven by artificial intelligence. Everything is up for debate and discussion, Dr LeBlanc said.

Yet all the computerisation will not mean campusesdevoid of the hum of traditional student activity, Dr LeBlanc said. There is a coming-of-age experience that a campus community offers, he said. You cant do it without the robust presence and interaction of humans.

Although a four-year institution, SNHUs academic programmes have skewed towards offerings regarded as vocational. Dr LeBlanc, however, has long seen demand rising for highly efficient, job-focused instruction.

The 2009 recession sparked a great migration from four-year to two-year schools, he said. That was a dress rehearsal, as bad as it was, for what were about toface.

If SNHUs Manchester campus can open this autumn, its admitted freshmen will have the option of taking their first-year courses there online,with no tuition charge, or getting their deposits refunded, Dr LeBlanc said. Existing students will get their promised traditional classes through graduation.

As SNHU outlined its plans, another leading non-profit provider of online education, Purdue University, alsoreiterated its commitmentto resuming and strengthening its physical campus presence once it can safely do so.

All the evidence reveals, Purdues president, Mitchell Daniels, wrote to the campus community, that students who live and spend more of their time on campus succeed academically at higher rates.

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US online pioneer vows greater push to slash post-pandemic tuition - Times Higher Education (THE)

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April 23rd, 2020 at 11:46 am

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