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Purdue seeks new revenue with online-education initiative

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Purdue University on Friday formally kicked off a new online education initiative that it hopes extends the Purdue brand globally and even pulls in additional revenue down the road.

PurdueHUB-U will offer courses via an Internet portal that offers video lectures, online interaction with other students and electronic submission of homework and tests.

Purdue’s initiative, which will be funded with $2 million over its first four years, is similar to an initiative announced May 2 by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Those schools pledged a combined $60 million to launch edX, which will offer online courses and give students a certificate of completion at the end. Such a certificate from a well-regarded institution could—proponents of online education predict—become valuable among employers.

Purdue hopes demand for its HUB-U initiative becomes self-sustaining in five years.

Purdue offered a certificate of completion recently for a HUB course in nanotechnology. The course was taken by 900 students from 27 countries, most of whom paid $30 each.

"Online education is transforming higher education, flipping classroom dynamics and reaching into the farthest corners of the world," Purdue President France Cordova told the university’s board of trustees, according to a statement released by Purdue. "The winners will be those who have the platform, can be cost competitive and capture the imagination of the learner.”

The HUB-U technology also will be used to transform on-campus courses at Purdue, according to Provost Tim Sands. In those courses, students would watch lectures online outside of class and spend class time for what used to be homework—problem-solving and group activities—with the aid of professors.

PurdueHUB-U is one of several revenue-boosting initiatives Cordova has launched in her final year as Purdue’s president. The university is expected to name her replacement this summer.

With state support not keeping up with inflation—and actually declining in recent years—Purdue is turning to out-of-state and international students to help. During Cordova’s tenure, the percentage of out-of-state students at Purdue has risen from 40 percent to 50 percent. That’s significant because out-of-state tuition is $27,000—nearly three times as much as for in-state students.

 

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