Enrollments are up and rising, profits are often uncertain, and organizational arrangements are in transition according to a new national survey of senior campus officials responsible for managing online and distance education programs conducted by WCET and The Campus Computing Project. Additionally, the new survey data suggest that students enrolled in online programs may pay higher fees than their on-campus counterparts, that many campuses have mandatory training on their faculty before sending them â€œinto the webâ€ to teach online courses, and that quality still looms as a large question for online education programs.
Three questions about enrollments indicate that campuses participating in the survey have experienced healthy gains in good economic times and bad â€“ and that campus officials expect enrollments in their online programs to continue to rise in the coming years. Fully 94 percent of the survey respondents â€“ typically the senior campus officer responsible for online or distance education programs â€“ report enrollment gains in their online programs between 2006 and 2009; almost half (48 percent) report online enrollments rose by 15 percent or more during this period.Â Similarly, asked about past year numbers (fall 2008 vs. fall 2009), 95 percent report rising enrollment in their online programs; almost two-fifths (38 percent) report a one-year gain in online enrollments of 15 percent or better. Finally, when asked to project enrollments in their online programs over the next three years (2009-2011), 98 percent of the institutions participating in the survey affirm enrollment gains: almost half (47 percent) expect online enrollments grow by 15 percent or more over the next three years.Â