The market for online higher education aimed at adults may be reaching maturity, according to a new report from Eduventures. And without a better-defined product, the report's author said online learning faces a risk of petering out and being little more than a back-up alternative to on-campus education for students.
“We feel this is the watershed moment,” said Richard Garrett, vice president and principal analyst for Eduventures and the report’s author. “After years of endless growth, we’re definitely coming to more of a plateau situation.”
Eduventures is a technology consulting firm that works with colleges and higher education-related businesses. The study (which is available here, for purchase) was based in part on the newly-released results of a survey of 1,500 U.S. adults on their attitudes about online education. Released today, the company has conducted a version of the survey (of 18- to 70-year-olds) sporadically since 2008.
Citing survey findings and market data, the report found that 38 percent of prospective adult students prefer to study fully or mostly online. That portion remains virtually unchanged since 2006, when 37 percent said they preferred online learning. Similarly, there was only a small bump over the last six years in the percentage of adult students who said online college is equal in quality to campus learning.