State officials consider Purdue’s online education plans

An Indiana education commission will vote on Purdue University's plans to create a new online university.

University officials presented their plans for NewU to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education on Thursday, the Journal and Courier reported.

The online university would stem from Purdue's recent acquisition of for-profit Kaplan University.

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said he hopes the online option will help increase education access to those who didn't finish college.

"This is our duty," Daniels said. "It's a huge opportunity for the state, as the commission keeps reminding us. We do believe this is the one way that we can reach people who individually deserve a better chance in life and who Indiana and the nation need to have that chance."

Education officials raised questions about the online school's effect on Purdue's reputation, the quality of the online university and the financial risk involved with the venture.

Commission Vice Chair Chris LaMothe said the idea is bold and could become a model for higher education, but emphasized that quality should be a top priority.

Daniels said Purdue isn't asking for state funding for the online university. If it becomes popular, it could become a significant revenue stream for the university, he said.

If Purdue doesn't choose to renew its initial 30-year contract with Kaplan, it could potentially have to pay $600 million. The university has a buyout option after six years.

The commission will vote on NewU plans in August. The Higher Learning Commission and the U.S. Department of Education must also give approval for the online university.

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