Public Private Partnership growth in Higher Education slowed in 1H 2022. Meanwhile Universities and Colleges now collectively hold over 2,627 academic partnerships with OPMs, Bootcamps and Pathways.
That’s not 2,627 individual programs, that’s 2,627 unique relationship between a University and a private OPM, Bootcamp or Pathways partner, from which 15,000+ programs (courses) are developed and delivered.
Higher Education is in long term transition. Digital transformation, demographic enrolment declines, degree unbundling, hyper-competition (online and offline) and reduced funding are among some of the biggest challenges facing colleges and universities around the world, some markets and institutions more impacted than others.
A post-COVID rebound does not appear to be occurring, neither is the long thought of economic ‘counter cyclicality’. Meanwhile, a generation of students may be weighing the value of college versus its cost, reflected in our 2020 ‘downgrade’ driven by an outlook of long-term global ‘tuition deflation’ and demand slowly but progressively diverting towards micro-credentials and professional certifications.
As Universities move through this transition, as are their private partners. Last quarter’s report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of US Congress) acknowledged that as enrollment in online education continues to grow, colleges are increasingly looking to private partners to help them develop and deliver their online programs. Both of the study’s major recommendations seek to improve clarity, reporting and transparency from colleges on their public-private partnership arrangements.
Most major OPMs around the world have released their own transparency initiatives and reports over the last few years, with many in the sector now hoping their national regulators and Universities themselves will follow up and close the transparency loop. While the focus of late, specifically in the US, has been on the nature of the relationship between Universities and their private partners, we hope and expect more sophisticated and contemporary reporting and transparency will be developed and in turn required of all post-secondary and higher education institutions. More, better quality data on post-secondary learning access, costs and outcomes is critical to informing innovation and a key step for governments and regulators around the world to unleash the potential of their people and economy.