Online programs to pull in extra $12 million

Correction appended

A new crop of online programs would produce about $12 million in revenue for the University, the biggest single revenue-producing initiative in the Innovation Task Force’s three-year history.

The ITF initiatives announced Tuesday make up the fourth round of new program pitches and cost-cutting strategies to feed more funds into academics and research.

    New Innovation Task Force initiatives

  • 1. Online programs for graduate students, high schools students and service members
  • 2. Post-baccalaureate pre-health professional certificate
  • 3. Moving research on campus
  • 4. International gap year
  • 5. Winter enrichment program
  • 6. Global experience degree

The University now counts more than $50 million that can be invested starting in fiscal year 2015.

The money from the online programs will nearly double the funding executive education programs and strategic sourcing are each projected to bring in, Senior Associate Vice President for Finance and ITF co-chair David Lawlor said.

The additional revenue can be used as early as fiscal year 2017.

The four online programs include college credit courses for high school students, undergraduate programs for military and service personnel, expansion of the GW School of Business’ online MBA and overall expansion of online graduate courses.

The six initiatives were whittled down from 12 proposals discussed in April. The ideas were signed off by University President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman this summer.

Administrators will also develop a global undergraduate degree, an international gap year program, a winter enrichment offering, a post-baccalaureate, pre-health professional certificate and a plan to move off-campus research back to campus.

As the plans come to fruition, the University will see about $15 million in extra revenue.

Craig Linebaugh, senior associate provost for academic operations and ITF co-chair, said the latest round of ideas will make strides in growing academics.

“Those programs are generating dollars that help grow the academic enterprise, but every bit as important is that they are in fact expanding the curriculum of the University and making many more opportunities available to prospective students, or even students who are already enrolled,” he said.

The University is counting a global bachelor’s degree that would give students two study abroad years in the ITF – a program like that one being planned by the GW School of Business and Columbian College of Arts and Sciences that would span three continents in countries like China and Brazil.

A winter enrichment program will also be developed to help college students get their footing in new fields and adjust to a harder level of academics, Linebaugh said. It would enroll students in online or on-campus non-credit courses during winter break. “There are students out there who say, ‘I really would love to be a mechanical engineer, but I’m not going anywhere near advanced calculus.’ Well, maybe with a little warm-up between the fall or spring semester, they’re ready to tackle it.”

The University would also see added revenue by bringing off-campus research laboratories to campus. That would allow GW to reap funds from indirect cost recoveries, or the overhead costs that the University would earn on federal grants researchers earn. GW is counting on a net increase of $55 million in indirect cost recoveries to help fund the $275 million Science and Engineering Hall over the next 10 years.

To capitalize on the swell of foreign students looking toward American higher education, GW would also look to launch a gap year program for foreign students who are not GW students. They would take English and enrichment classes on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus, Linebaugh said.

“They would spend a year getting ready to really dive in rigorous academic programs in the States,” Linebaugh said. “Whether it be on a language basis or cultural basis, it’d really help them prepare for academic pursuits.”

About $11 million in ITF savings have been invested last fiscal year into research start-ups, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences faculty hires and campus-wide advising programs.

The University started expanding graduate online programs and its online MBA offerings over the last few years, but its plans to develop college-credit courses for high school students and an online undergraduate degree for military and service members are brand new.

The University’s graduate programs in business, education and nursing landed top spots in U.S. News & World Report’s inaugural rankings of online programs in January. The business school added four new online MBA programs this summer.

He added that the University needed to dive deeper into online education, because for-profit colleges like University of Phoenix are ahead in the market. But GW could provide a more solid educational foundation to online programs, he said.

The University plans to release six of these ideas every six months for six years, but Linebaugh and Lawlor said the University would keep the initiative going even if some ideas don’t pan out as projected. The ITF aims to create $60 million of new funds, through revenue boosts or cost savings, to be funneled back into the University each year – an important backstop to GW’s finances as its endowment growth slows.

Past ideas, like expanding telecommuting and converting to a cloud storage system have also helped carve excess costs out of GW’s budget.

Linebaugh said he could not put a timeline on when each program would be released, adding that administrators would work for about a year to put them into action.

This article was updated Sept. 6, 2012 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the Innovation Task Force would pitch six ideas every year. In fact, they’ll present six ideas every six months. The Hatchet also incorrectly reported that additional revenue earned from a new slate of online programs can be used as early as fiscal year 2017. In fact, the revenue can be used before then, but it will come to maturity as early as 2017.

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