UW-Whitewater: Survey: Traditional Universities Top Choices For Online Degrees

Donald Zahn, (262) 472-1945, [email protected]

Surveys conducted by Online University Consortium, the nation’s leading standards-bearer for online degrees, indicate that traditional universities remain the preferred choice for online education and degree programs.

These findings were confirmed in a recent report by Eduventures, prompting the Consortium to help clarify the market by making its industry checklist available for public download at www.onlineuc.net. The list features seven important factors for choosing online education, and includes buyer preferences and recommendations for what to look for in quality degree programs.

Results from the consortium’s surveys of corporate decision-makers at industry events, such as the Society of Human Resources Management conference, suggest that when hiring and promoting, employers prefer candidates with degrees from traditional universities two-to-one over for-profit providers such as University of Phoenix.

Eduventures’ recent market update reinforces the findings of the Consortium, emphasizing that, as the market matures, brand strength will increasingly favor non-profit institutions. According to the report, traditional universities command significant brand equity, and will threaten market share of for-profit businesses, because students identify them as a familiar provider and will choose an online program for traditional reasons.

Traditional universities that provide online degree programs, such as the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, must pass a seven-point qualification standard to become a participating member of the Online University Consortium. Following evaluation of quality online degree programs from education providers, the Consortium then conducts research with organizational and individual learners to determine size and demand in the market.

“For-profit providers enjoyed an initial surge in popularity partly because of convenience,” notes Greg Eisenbarth, the consortium’s executive director. “However, the market has shifted dramatically with the country’s most respected universities now offering quality online degree programs for greater choice and flexibility.”

The finding is confirmed by Donald Zahn, associate dean of UW-Whitewater’s College of Business and Economics. According to Zahn, “The interest in our online courses continues to grow. Students and companies recognize the quality of Whitewater’s AACSB accredited program. We continue to believe that our online classes are as good as or better than our on campus offerings. And our students confirm this.”

“Industry reports, including our own studies, continue to confirm that traditional universities such as the UW-Whitewater remain the trusted and valued choice,” adds Eisenbarth. “They provide a balanced education backed by a reputation and quality that remain unattainable by for-profits. For most individuals and corporations choosing an online degree program, this is critical to making a successful decision.”

Results from Online UC’s initial preference studies can be reviewed at http://www.onlineuc.net/shrmstudy.html. The Eduventures report, “Online Distance Education Market Update: A Nascent Market Begins to Mature,” is at http://www.eduventures.com/research/industry_research_resources/onlinede.cfm

Online University Consortium uses the industry’s highest quality education standards and most accepted learning practices to evaluate online degree programs from education providers. To date, 28 of the world’s largest corporate learning departments, representing more than 2.5 million employees, now employ these standards of education. For more information, call (435) 649-2190 or visit www.onlineuc.net.

Eduventures, based in Boston, is a worldwide authority on the education industry and supports the growth of organizations operating in the K-12, postsecondary, and corporate learning markets.

Students can complete a UW-Whitewater MBA using all online classes or a combination of on-campus and online classes. Visit the university’s MBA web site to learn more at www.uww.edu/onlinemba. Zahn can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or telephone at (262) 472-1945, or toll free at (888) 622-5506.