U of Illinois plans to take online education global

But local campus is concerned the move will hurt its current online degree programs.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

The decision by the University of Illinois board of trustees to create a for-profit, digital campus has raised concerns that the change could threaten UI Springfield's existing digital programs, reports the Journal-Register.

Targeting students who are looking to return to college or earn an advanced degree while working a full-time job, the Global Campus, if approved, would open its virtual doors in 2008. UI hopes to enroll 9,000 students in 31 online degree and certificate programs by 2012, said Chet Gardner, vice president of academic affairs at UI.

Gardner said Global Campus would allow the U of I "to extend a quality University of Illinois education to many more people than we can currently do today, in a flexible and convenient manner, and at an affordable price."

The concerns, especially among U of I faculty, is that a new online-only campus would compete with UI Springfield's current online degree programs. Currently, over 20 percent of UIS students are enrolled in online-only degree programs, according to a report released Feb. 23 by the UIS Campus Senate.

Such competition, the report said, "has the potential to seriously harm the UIS campus."

Online enrollment "is not a zero-sum game for the University of Illinois," Gardner added. "Potential students will not restrict their attention to just the online programs that are offered by one of our campuses, such as UIS, or to the Global campus. Their options are going to include every institution that offers similar online programs."
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