by Daniel L. Bennett
Kevin Carey has an exceptional article in Washington Monthly discussing a topic that I've been thinking about quite a bit lately: the future of the multiversity/conglomerate higher education model.
In the article, Carey describes how universities essentially exploit introductory courses as cash cows to cross-subsidize many other services and activities that operate at a loss, such as museums, entertainment, athletics, research, etc. He tells the story of the emergence of Straighterline, a provider of 24/7 online tutoring and more recently, introductory college courses for $99 a month, and how technology that significantly reduces the cost of instruction will eventually change the institution of higher education as we now know it. Carey points out that the accreditation moat has served as a protectionist barrier and will buy it some time, but that a day in which the barrier erodes is coming, perhaps sooner than we think. When this day occurs, the conglomerate university model will become a memorable institution of the past.