Private universities are lagging, sometimes drastically, behind public universities when it comes to online learning, a new report said.

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About one in four schools earn between $1 and $5 million in annual revenue from online courses.

There are an estimated 3 million American students who take online courses. That’s 14 percent of the entire student population. Nearly half of those students take online courses at public non-profit universities, according a survey conducted by Learning House Inc. and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

Only two out of 10 students take online courses at private non-profit universities. The remaining 35 percent choose for-profit online colleges.

“Public universities have been quick to adapt to the new technology and develop online programs true to their mission to provide public access to higher education,” the report’s authors wrote.

Private universities have been slower to embrace online learning than their public counterparts.

When the private historically black college Howard University announced a new online initiative earlier this year, it became the largest online learning project of its kind ever attempted by a historically black college or university (HBCU), in part because of so many HBCUs being private institutions.

See Page 2 for details on the financial upside to embracing online learning.


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