Sep 162009
 
Authors: Vince Crespin

CSU officials confirmed this week that, while enrollment is lower than expected, CSU’s 1-year-old, exclusively online campus is on track for paying back a $12 million start-up loan from the university by 2012 and plans to become autonomous from the system pending accreditation.

Struggling through the economic downturn, CSU Global has enrolled just more than 1,100 students — about 400 fewer than the school initially projected.

Hunt Lambert, the interim CEO of Global, said targeted students — mostly non-traditional — were hesitant to enroll because of the program’s infancy in the context of the recession.

As a result of an unstable economy, Global administrators re-evaluated enrollment goals in March, Lambert said, putting Global back on track when it reported its more than 1,100 students.

And though enrollment figures at the start of the semester came in below initial goals, Lambert said he was pleased the online institution was still able to meet its loan repayment schedule. To date, Global has paid $2.9 million to the CSU Board of Governors, which provided the $12 million start-up loan.

Global was founded on the idea to give non-traditional students a chance to earn either a certificate, undergraduate or graduate degree through online courses.

Its undergraduate degrees are based on CSU-Pueblo curriculums, giving students the verification of a four-year university, and its graduate degree stems from the masters program at CSU-Fort Collins.

BOG spokesperson Michele McKinney, who was involved with Global in its beginning stages, said Global varies its programs to stay current with the current needs of the work force.

“We try to adjust based on the work force development,” she said. “Part of this is trying to get people who graduate with associate degrees from community colleges in Global to finish out an undergraduate degree so they’re better prepared,” McKinney said.

The degrees that are offered by Global have varying success, which is defined by the number of students enrolled. Global’s most successful programs, with 30 percent and 20 percent of Global’s total students enrolled respectively, are the bachelor’s of science in biology and leadership and organization.

Programs that have experienced moderate success are the graduate programs for organizational studies, management, social sciences and the bachelors program for science in public management. At least 100 students are enrolled in each of the programs.

Though Global administrators are pleased with the current financial situation, Lambert said the program has taken some minor steps back.

Those in charge of Global elected to discontinue the certificate program, which offered classes in organizational leadership. Lambert said it represented an effort to bring students in, but was not as successful as they hoped. From there they chose to focus on what they felt they did best, the actual degrees.

And CSU’s online university is facing competition from similar programs. Among them are Regis Online, which Lambert said is Global’s toughest competitor, Westwood College and University of Phoenix.

However, Lambert said what he feels will set them apart are current aspirations to improve each class. Still developing, the program has a chance to surpass the competition by analyzing how the courses are delivered and improve both the teachers and their teaching methods.

“There are dozens of other programs out there in just our region, we are focused on our market growth and offering very reasonable prices with better value,” Lambert said.

Global owes both the CSU-Fort Collins and CSU-Pueblo campuses royalties, totaling $8 million, for the use of their curriculum material. This money is slated to be repaid with Global revenues, by 2012.

Global recently submitted its application to be accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. This would mean that it would become its own university, no longer needing to pay such royalties.

Staff writer Vince Crespin can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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