When large educational institutions make policy changes, it can be deceiving. We think it’s big news, or maybe because we care, we think it should be big news. Whether or not this is the case depends on both the news and the institution. We think and talk too much about what Harvard does, probably not nearly enough about what’s going on at the University of Central Florida, the largest school in the country.
With either measure, the decision Ohio State University leaders made this week should be big. The school is big – with around 60,000 students, depending on how you count, it’s number five or ten. The news, too, great. At least that’s how it should be.
According to local reportingThe university’s trustees voted to increase tuition fees. New students pay an additional 3.8% tuition fees. For freshmen outside the state, prices will increase by 5%. But that’s not the big deal. The prices increase. At most schools, the amount of scholarships and grants has exceeded these increases, so the real cost has been quite low for some time.
What’s a big deal is that the trustees have also charged fees for overseas students taking online courses. And by “raised” I mean a ton. Last year, overseas students who took all of their courses online paid a $ 5 surcharge. Next year, the online surcharge outside of the state is $ 19,493.
Local coverage of the change failed to state why the school decided to add nearly $ 20,000 to its annual tab for remote online students. But the result is pretty clear. With this change, remote online students will pay $ 34,717 per year to take online courses. Out of state students studying on Ohio state campus pay almost the same – $ 35,019.
The new pricing structure means that one of the largest schools in the country has raised prices for its online and in-person classes.
From a reputation and grade point of view, this is a good decision. The market is overflowing with cheap and simple online degrees of questionable quality – most are inundated by seedy, for-profit schools as well as a few mass-market assembly-line schools that are nominally “nonprofit”. Institutions interested in their brands do not want to wage price wars with these places. None of them, including the state of Ohio, are going to win a cost and price race to the bottom.
By making their in-person degrees and online degrees cost the same, they say, “This is what a degree costs in Ohio, and we think it’s worth it. There is no cheap version of an Ohio state degree. “If the school is equally behind an online degree and a personal degree, and if they say they are the same, the prices should be comparable.
It may not seem like it, but it’s good for students too. There are real, real, and important benefits to studying on a college campus. There are resources, relationships and experiences on campus that Zoom U simply cannot provide. While being on campus is hidden, when it costs a few hundred dollars more to be on campus than it costs to study at home, that’s an amazing deal. There should be no incentive for a student to give up the best parts of college.
But the reason this Ohio State decision is a big deal is definitely not good news for online learner evangelists and investors.
From the beginning, those who viewed online programs as the future of college, as the external dynamic that would transform colleges, based their arguments on three points: online programs would expand access, improve quality, and be less expensive than ” traditional “programs. College courses on campus.
The access part was easy – the online college is obviously more accessible than the campus options. The quality argument was questionable at best and is clearly not supported by the low-cost, low-quality programs that offer online degrees on every corner. And Ohio State’s decision to increase the prices of its online offerings really goes against the idea that online programs can or will be more cost effective. They have never been cheaper at many prestigious schools.
In reality, there is legitimate cost pressures on online courses that don’t exist on campus, making it very difficult to design and deploy good online programs inexpensively. Bad, sure. Good ones, like the kind the state of Ohio is sure to offer, remain a price challenge.
Perhaps the cost of the programs isn’t why the state of Ohio has moved its online pricing. Maybe they’re just looking for ways to get a few more dollars on their balance sheets, or something else. Whatever the reason, when a school the size of the state of Ohio adapts their remote online classes to their personal classes, that’s big news. Or at least it will be.