The online program management (OPM) industry—which helps traditional universities create and compete with online learning offerings—is growing rapidly. Last fall, the industry brought in revenues of more than $1.1 billion, according to Eduventures.
Partnering with private providers is not new to higher education. Since the 1970s colleges and universities have partnered with outside firms to support their IT, finance and accounting, human resources, dormitories, food service, and financial aid and student loans operations.
But OPM providers are different in two critical respects. First, they directly support the delivery of an institution’s academics. And second, they take in a direct percentage—around 50 percent on average—of a program’s tuition revenue.
Both of these practices have raised the hackles of some onlookers.