What can online education learn from March Madness

America is increasingly a nation of haves and have-nots, and higher education is no exception. The endowments of the top 30 institutions exceed the endowments of every other college and university combined. And in college basketball—which culminates this month—money is perhaps the dominant factor setting apart winner and losers. A big budget doesn’t guarantee a ticket to the Big Dance, but few teams make it there without one. In the coming years, we expect to see a similar pattern in the world of online education, with large budgets and well-known brands taking the lion’s share of the market. Already, the 10 institutions with the largest online programs enroll one in every five online students. A growing number of universities have launched online degree programs (in many cases with the assistance of online program managers like 2U or Wiley), and the market will continue to get more crowded. According to Eduventures, 95 percent of universities plan to launch online degree programs by 2020. And Coventry University in the UK has announced a plan to launch not one but 50 online degree programs in the next five years.

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