When John Katzman created 2U in 2008, he built an online program manager model that made a lot of sense–at that time. But the world of online education has changed dramatically in 10 years: not just the technology, but our understanding of recruiting, instructional design, student services and how online programs can–and probably should–integrate with on-campus programs. The risks are different, the economics are different, and the competitive challenges are different. That’s why Noodle Partners has created a new type of OPM.
OPMs typically finance the costs of launching a new program, which can commonly exceed $2 million. In exchange for that investment, an OPM siphons off as much as 65% of your online tuition revenue for up to a decade. When online education was new, risky and expensive, this made a certain amount of sense. Today, there’s little risk involved, and universities shouldn’t be paying for an OPM’s sunk costs.
Noodle Partners, by contrast, charges universities a small fee as the general manager of the program, and hires best-in-class providers to deliver only the services you need at lower cost and higher quality. Compared to the traditional OPM model, we will save you and your students $15,000 to $30,000 per student, while limiting your cash investment to near zero.
Noodle Partners is far more flexible than traditional OPMs. First, we don’t insist on doing everything ourselves — we’re happy to leverage your internal strengths. For example, if you’ve got great instructional design or IT folks, we’ll advise and support them.
Second, we’re sensitive to the many possibilities for integrating your online and on-campus programs. The goal is to eliminate internal and external confusion — and sometimes even competition — among programs. You want to allow today’s peripatetic students to mix-and-match online and on-campus offerings.
Finally, flexibility means enabling the university to respond quickly to changes in the competitive environment. The Noodle Partners model, for example, works for both undergraduate and graduate, degree and certificate programs.
Traditional OPMs often claim that their interests are well aligned to those of the university. They’re not.
OPMs typically manage several competing programs. Their most profitable strategy is to direct prospects to the program that delivers the highest profit margin (this generally involves steering students to either a less selective, more expensive, or regional program). Similarly, some OPMs have invested heavily in their own technologies, and require the university to use that technology. The university must adapt to the OPM, rather than the other way around.
The Noodle Partners model was designed to align our interests closely with our schools. Talk to us; we’d be glad to explain how…and why it matters.
Shocking as it may seem, traditional OPMs really don’t want you to know what goes on behind the curtain. Two examples of what OPMs don’t want you to know is how they market to prospective students and how much they spend to convert qualified applicants from different channels into enrolled students. Noodle Partners shares this data with you on a real-time basis. That insight enables you to better control costs and enhance profitability.