American Consumer Institute white paper finds Online Program Managers play an integral role in student enrollment and retention, institutional resilience and financial health, and student outcomes.

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA – A white paper released today by the American Consumer Institute (ACI) sheds new light on the role played by Online Program Managers (OPMs) in American higher education. The paper finds that Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) that partner with OPMs offer enhanced online programs, that more students are choosing to pursue online education, and – most importantly – that students enrolled in OPM-supported programs are excelling relative to peers in online programs that are not supported by OPMs.

These important findings arrive amid ongoing efforts by the United States Department of Education to advance sweeping new regulations that threaten to disrupt the partnership between universities and OPMs and therein undermine the effectiveness and accessibility of online learning, thus impacting consumers.

Nate Scherer, ACI policy analyst, and white paper co-author, described the importance of preserving OPM-IHE partnerships. “Now more than ever, OPMs have an important role to play in bringing IHEs into the digital era. Rapid advances in technology mean that consumers have more learning options than ever before and can now choose between in-person, online, and hybrid course options. OPM-IHE partnerships help make this possible.”

Kristen Walker, ACI policy analyst and white paper co-author, further outlines OPMs’ benefits to American higher education. “The growing trend towards online education is evident. Given this clear trajectory, our research sought to understand the impact of OPM-IHE partnerships on crucial measures of effectiveness including student enrollment and retention, institutional resilience and financial health, and student outcomes. Across all three metrics, evidence suggests that partnerships with OPMs have proven remarkably beneficial to consumers and institutions alike.”

According to Scherer, “the Department of Education under President Biden is working to re-write rules that were established by the Obama administration – and is doing so without providing any real evidence of why these rules need to be changed. The regulations appear to be a politically motivated effort to appease those who are opposed to OPMs for no other reason than the fact that they are private entities involved in higher education. Regulations should be built on sound data and a clear demonstration of need – not political gamesmanship.”

The growing body of evidence in support of OPM-IHE partnerships calls into further question the Biden administration’s effort to advance unnecessary and harmful regulations that would badly undermine these partnerships, thereby impacting consumers.

To learn more, read the white paper here.

The American Consumer Institute is a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information about the Institute, visit www.TheAmericanConsumer.Org or follow us on Twitter (X) @ConsumerPal.