Dear Commons Community,
This was sent to me by my colleague, Peter Shea, at SUNY Albany. As reported in The Gainseville Sun:
“The University of Florida (UF) will pay Pearson Embanet an estimated $186 million over the life of its 11-year contract — a combination of direct payments and a share of tuition revenue — to help launch and manage the state’s first fully online, four-year degree program.
How UF evaluates how well Pearson does its job is unknown — the standards by which the contractor is measured are still being withheld from the public, such as minimum enrollment figures and total tuition levels.
UF officials maintained that those criteria are “trade secrets” exempt from state public records law.
“Per the General Counsel’s Office, the redacted information is confidential as a trade secret of Pearson, deriving independent economic value from not being generally known to, or readily ascertainable by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use,” Janine Sikes, the UF assistant vice president for media relations, said in an email to The Sun.
The Gainesville Sun pieced together what UF could wind up paying Pearson based on a business plan presented to the Florida Board of Governors in September, two months before UF Provost Joe Glover and Chief Financial Officer Matt Fajack signed a contract with Pearson Embanet CEO and President David Daniels.”
…Pearson Learning is part of an international publishing and media conglomerate that includes The Financial Times and Penguin Publishing. It entered the e-learning support field for public universities in 2010, starting with Arizona State University and the California State University System, according to Inside Higher Education.
It bought Embanet Compass in 2012 for $650 million — leapfrogging from fifth to first in providing online learning support for public colleges and universities, according to Inside Higher Education. UF had a prior relationship with Embanet supporting eight online graduate programs.
Under its new contract with UF, Pearson is responsible for creating “proprietary digital content,” providing admission and enrollment support, generating leads and signing new students, tracking retention rates, engaging in joint research and development, and providing on-demand student support.”
UF’s relationship with Pearson Embanet will be watched closely by the higher education community.
Joel Hartman (University of Central Florida) provides the following additional details on the University of Florida/Pearson Embanet relationship.
As the article hints, details of the contractual relationship between Pearson (Embanet) and UF Online are being closely held. However, the UF Online business plan can be found at the url below.. The budget appendix runs from pages 82 through 85. The document contains several references to a “public/private partnership—‘P3’,” which is a reference to UF Online’s business relationship with Pearson.
Pearson Embanet is providing UF services that are typical of many outsourcing arrangements. UF is facing many challenges in launching their program in such a short time period and under such a public microscope. For example,see http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/03/14/director-u-florida-online-resigns