Michael Horn on the University of Southern New Hampshire Agreement with the Pennsylvania Community Colleges!


Dear Commons Community,

Michael Horn, a consultant who has published with me and was a close associate of  the late Clayton Christensen, had a good recap of the recent announcement by the University of Southern New Hampshire  on its articulation agreement with the Pennsylvania Community Colleges!  Below is his take on this development.  It is worth a read.



In January, Southern New Hampshire University–one of the world’s most innovative and largest universities with over 130,000 students enrolled–turned heads as it struck a noteworthy agreement with Pennsylvania’s community colleges.

Specifically, the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges announced [michaelbhorn.us17.list-manage.com]that graduates of its 14 community colleges could transfer up to 90 credits to Southern New Hampshire University and take courses at $288 per credit hour—a 10% discount on SNHU’s prices and much less costly than the vast majority of in-state public options.

What’s so striking is that the announcement comes at a time when Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education—the state’s four-year colleges and universities—has lost nearly 20% of its enrollment since 2010, which has created significant stress. It also signals that SNHU will continue to find ways to grow and serve more students [michaelbhorn.us17.list-manage.com] who need further education that is affordable.

As the chancellor of Pennsylvania’s State System, Dan Greenstein, has pointed out, this doesn’t mean that its colleges don’t have agreements with the state’s community colleges or that they don’t offer online-learning options. But the agreement with SNHU, a private, non-profit, is notable because it will seamlessly accept up to three-quarters of the credits required for a bachelor’s degree at a steep discount relative to many of those options.

Some commentators have been quick to call on Pennsylvania to boost public funding to create more affordable options for Pennsylvania’s residents. Why, after all, should community college students transfer to an out-of-state, private entity when its own state system seeks more students so that some of its campuses can remain viable?

It’s a good question, but in this piece for Forbes, “Why Disruption Is Stealing Pennsylvania’s Students [michaelbhorn.us17.list-manage.com],” I note that the long-term answer won’t be public financing. Aside from some research that suggests such funds cause universities to increase their expenditures, the problems are more structural than what funding alone will solve. The answer instead lies in heeding the lessons of disruptive innovation to create separate units with new business models that can offer a more affordable education.

OK, so perhaps the headline is a bit too strong—stealing?—but higher education leaders would do well to understand why universities like SNHU and Western Governors University (both enroll well over 100,000 students now) are growing as fast as they are and how they should respond. Yes, disruptive innovation is real. Have a read [michaelbhorn.us17.list-manage.com].

Also worth watching—according to recent data from the Chronicle for Higher Education,  [michaelbhorn.us17.list-manage.com]roughly 60% of public and private institutions missed their enrollment goals and 67% missed their net-revenue goals. Trouble is brewing for traditional colleges and universities that don’t innovate.


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