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Coursera to reduce service fees based on new tiered cost structure

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Colorado Boulder are among the first schools to take part in the new structure.
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Written by Jonathan Greig on

Coursera unveiled a new fee structure designed to help universities and colleges scale their online degree programs. 

In a new tiered structure, Coursera will offer universities a service fee that will be lowered progressively from 40% to 25% of total tuition as long as universities "grow their programs on Coursera."

In a statement, Coursera said the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Colorado Boulder will be among the first schools to take on the new fee structure. 

Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda said the pandemic has fundamentally changed how universities are thinking about online degrees.

"Students want the flexibility to learn online, and universities are scaling online degree programs to meet that demand," Maggioncalda said. "Our new fee structure better supports universities that want to offer more degrees online."

Coursera said it offers universities scaled teaching and grading, lessons from Coursera Labs and support for reusable content and stackable credentials. 

In recent months, Coursera has seen increased interest from universities to add their courses to the platform. As of June 30, there was a 55% growth in the number of degrees being offered by universities on Coursera. These courses now reach 81% more students than they did a year ago, according to Coursera, thanks to the platforms more than 87 million users. 

Betty Vandenbosch, chief content officer at Coursera, said many of the company's university partners asked how they can rapidly expand their online degree programs and serve more students around the world, prompting the change in fee structure. Vandenbosch said the new structure will allow schools to expand their available programs through Coursera. 

Jeffrey Brown, dean of Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explained that the university now offers four different degrees on Coursera's platform and has been able to reach 12,000 students across 90 countries through it. 

Brown lauded the move to a tiered system because it will help schools like the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provide additional flexibility. 

"This is especially important now because, as more universities unveil online offerings, their needs and goals are more unique than ever," Brown added. 

"We and Coursera are both innovative in how we scale education while maintaining high quality, and Coursera has been an excellent partner in our effort to serve a larger population of learners who seek a quality, affordable business education."

Other schools with degrees on Coursera lauded the switch as well, including the University of Colorado Boulder. 

Robert McDonald, senior vice provost for Online and Extended Education and dean of the University Libraries at the university, said the new fee system will allow them to reach more students through the kind of self-paced degree programs that students have gravitated toward since the onset of the pandemic. 

The University of Colorado Boulder has two performance-based degrees on the Coursera platform.

"We hope this news will encourage CU Boulder's schools and colleges to continue to invest in these high-quality, flexible programs for many years to come," McDonald said.

The new fee structure will be rolled out in Europe and North America first before coming out in other markets. 

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