The Northern Star Editorial Board commends NIU for partnering with Wiley Education Services for the expansion of online programming and hopes the programs will be closely monitored to ensure the investment is worth it.
NIU approved the partnership with Wiley Education Services pending Jan. 10, pending contract negotiations Feb. 1, to increase enrollment and accommodate online-only students, according to a Jan. 16 Northern Star article. The partnership will cost the university $20,210,972 over the next three years and is projected to bring in as much as $11.4 million in revenue in the third year.
Jason Rhode, executive director of extended learning, said these programs are mostly master’s level or higher courses and are geared to those who may be older or those in the workforce who cannot attend on-campus courses.
“Our focus is not to convert on-campus students to online students,” Rhode said. “The goal is to provide access to students who are never going to come to campus. Our goal is to serve those students and provide them the same quality our current on-campus students have access to.”
Rhode said 30 to 33 percent of students use online courses. This partnership will hopefully increase these numbers and further expand NIU’s enrollment.
“One of the university’s goals is to increase online student enrollment by 1,000 students over the next five years,” Rhode said.
The Northern Star Editorial Board believes this partnership is helpful in expanding opportunities for non-traditional students and can help enrollment numbers increase over the years.
It is key to be mindful of the cost of the partnership, and the program’s progress must be monitored closely to make sure the money being spent is not wasted.
“We will be reporting regularly [on] how our enrollment is doing and what the cost is,” Rhode said.
The university is monitoring and reporting on the progress of the partnership as part of the new Strategic Enrollment Management Plan released Jan. 15. He also said if the enrollment does not meet the goal, the cost to the university will decrease.
We hope the revenue projections given by Wiley Education Services live up to what they are estimated, and if they don’t, the university should considers adjusting the partnership once the three-year contract is up. This is to ensure no money is wasted.