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Higher Ed Roundup....... for November 10, 1997

Small colleges falling behind in distance learning
As large universities increasingly commit themselves to the distance education movement, small colleges are slow to follow in their steps, according to a recent Department of Education survey of 1,200 nationally representative institutions.

By the start of the 1998-99 school year, 90 percent of institutions with more than 10,000 students expect to be offering at least some distance education courses, according to the survey. Eighty-five percent of the institutions with enrollments of 3,000 to 10,000 expect the same. However, among institutions with fewer than 3,000 students, only 43 percent anticipate offering distance learning courses. This is up from 16 percent in 1995. Among all of the colleges and universities surveyed, 58 percent said they would be offering distance learning courses in the fall of 1998.

According to Academe Today, the number of colleges that offer courses and degrees through television, the Internet and other distance education technologies has increased sharply since the fall of 1995, so the survey's findings may be out of date. The Department of Education is working on a second survey that it hopes to release next fall.

(Source: Academe Today, 10/7/97.)

Private institutions form pre-paid tuition consortium
Six private institutions are working together to create a tuition "mutual fund" similar to pre-paid tuition plans adopted in 16 states. The institutions - Furman, Rhodes College, Southern Methodist, Trinity (Texas), the University of Richmond, and Vanderbilt - want to allow parents to make payments over a period of years to lock in tuition rates for their children.

The payments, along with the interest accrued, could be used at any of the member institutions as long as the student is accepted. The consortium is hopeful that a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate exempting payments to the mutual fund from taxation will pass. Investors in state-run pre-paid tuition plans already receive a tax exemption.

(Source: Vanderbilt Register, 9/22-28/97.)

Reprinted, with permission, from CASE Flash Points.