Stars and Stripes stripes.com 11 Jan, 2021 22:30 am

Outsourcing of services by colleges is on the rise

Outsourcing of services by colleges is on the rise
Colleges and universities are paying billions of dollars a year to for-profit corporations to create and administer online courses; recruit and enroll students; advise and tutor those students once they start school; oversee research; manage information technology and utilities; and build or manage dorms, classrooms, labs, parking and student unions.

As with much in higher education, the real activity was online, where the university was busy launching a virtual master's degree in data science and an online program in computer science for people who already have bachelor's degrees.Some of these functions are outside the institutions' educational missions, advocates of such partnerships point out, though what's new is that "more and more are cutting closer to the academic core," said Dennis Gephardt, vice president and senior credit officer on the higher education and not-for-profit team at the Moody's bond-rating agency."The benefit to institutions seems fairly clear," said Clare McCann, deputy director for federal higher education policy at the think tank New America."What we're seeing is a real blurring of the lines between nonprofit and for-profit higher education," said Michelle Dimino, education senior policy adviser at the think tank Third Way.

Such cases "raise serious questions about the nature of these partnerships and the private sector influences" on higher education, Sen.The speed at which so many services are being outsourced worries William Tierney, founding director and professor emeritus of the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California and the author of "Get Real: 49 Challenges Confronting Higher Education.

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