BBJ: UM Global Campus president: Online education could be key to making college affordable

Newsmaker Higher Education panelists

By Morgan Eichensehr
June 10, 2020

Javier Miyares doesn’t know if college-goers will be more inclined to stick with online learning models once the Covid-19 pandemic subsides.

But Miyares, president of University of Maryland Global Campus, knows online schools like his will play a big part in the debates around affordability in higher education that are starting to bubble up nationwide.

“As I look into the future of higher [education], I don’t think this will be an online versus onsite dichotomy, I think this will be an affordability issue,” Miyares said to a group of more than 100 businesspeople who attended a webinar hosted by the Greater Baltimore Committee this week.

Conversations about college affordability have long been circulating in the industry, but still every year seems to bring a new round of tuition increases and spiking student debt. Miyares pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic has placed significant financial and health burdens on many American families, especially those in minority and low-income communities, and have exacerbated previously existing cost concerns.

As universities in Maryland prepare to partially reopen for the 2020-2021 academic year, many are fielding questions from anxious families about how a return-to-campus will be structured, how much of the fall semester’s instruction will continue to be online and whether they will be expected to pay the same amount of tuition dollars for a college experience that will look and feel very different from the one they expected. Many universities and systems across the country, including the University System of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University, are also facing lawsuits from students and families who believe they did not get their money’s worth in the spring semester, when schools collectively transitioned to online-only learning models because of Covid-19, and are demanding partial tuition refunds.

To put pricing models into perspective: for the 2018-2019 academic year, University of Maryland Global Campus reported a tuition price of $7,416 per semester, and priced out-of-state tuition at $12,336. Comparatively, it’s fellow University System of Maryland member and the state’s flagship public school, University of Maryland, College Park, charged a reported $10,595 for in-state tuition and $35,216 for out-of-state tuition.

Presidents from several of Maryland’s residential universities, including Kim Schatzel from Towson University and David Wilson from Morgan State University, have said they do not believe the experience of gaining a degree online will ever truly replace the on-campus college experience. For many young people, it is their first opportunity to leave home, meet people from different backgrounds and gain exposure to different points of view or belief systems, they noted.

Schatzel said she expects most young college-goers will continue to want the experiences of living and going to classes on campus, interacting with classmates and professors in more tangible ways, even if it comes at a higher price.

Miyares agreed that an online degree is “not for everybody,” but he said UMGC is eager to seize the opportunity to serve those who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and resulting economic crisis. He noted that UMGC primarily serves working adults and U.S. military members, a significant portion of whom are minorities and first generation college-goers.

“Education truly is the great equalizer,” he said. “What we offer and will continue to offer is an affordable path.”

To read the complete story, visit the Baltimore Business Journal’s website.

Source: Baltimore Business Journal

Also see:


COVID-19: GBC Coverage and Response

COVID-19 Resources and Helpful Websites

Special Update on State and Federal Legislation Related to COVID-19

Coverage of GBC Member companies’ philanthropic responses to COVID-19