More Students Enrolling in Online Classes

The Babson Survey Research Group recently released it’s “Grade Increase” report showing that enrollment in online courses increased for the fourteenth straight year. The researchers also found that enrollment in online courses rose at a faster pace between fall 2015 and 2016 compared with the previous three years.

According to the report, federal data from more than 4,700 colleges and universities shows that in 2016, 6.34 million students were enrolled in at least one online course, compared with 5.99 million students in 2015. 

The report also found that:

  • Between 2012 and 2016, the total number of students studying strictly on a physical campus dropped by more than 1 million, or 6.4 percent.
  • Public institutions had the largest growth in online course enrollment between 2015 and 2016 and command the largest portion of distance education students (67.8 percent).
  • Online class enrollment at private nonprofit schools rose 7.1 percent but continued to drop at for-profits.
  • Students are increasingly choosing local, in-state, online programs, compared to out-of-state online degree programs.
    • The selection of local programs may have to do with the ability of the student to study on-campus as well as online through a local institution. Almost 53 percent of students who took an online course in 2016 also were enrolled in an on-campus class.

“The growth of distance enrollments has been relentless,” said study co-author Julia E. Seaman, research director of the Babson Survey Research Group. “They have gone up when the economy was expanding, when the economy was shrinking, when overall enrollments were growing, and now when overall enrollments are shrinking.”

These findings are exciting, as, according to Education Dive, there are “31 million adult learners who need affordable, flexible and easily accessible education.”

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