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Grand Canyon Education is on the hunt for new university partners

SOURCE: Tom Gainor/Unsplash
Grand Canyon Education (GCE) is seeking university partners to increase the number of students benefitting from GCE online adult learning programmes.


By U2B Staff 

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Educational support services company, Grand Canyon Education (GCE), has shrugged off a shaky few months to announce plans it is expanding and is seeking university partners to grow its market and increase the number of students benefitting from GCE online adult learning programmes.

In a call with analysts last week, GCE Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Brian Mueller shared the company’s second-quarter earnings and enlightened investors on plans to grow the business in the coming months.

After breaking with its founding institution, Grand Canyon University (GCU), last year, the online programme manager (OPM) has been open to pursue other partnerships with colleges.

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GCE still provides services to GCU – and receives 60 percent of tuition in return – but is now on the hunt for three or four new college partners with the aim of growing by about 5,000 to 7,000 students in a five- to seven-year period. It’s expected these will be private colleges in the Midwest or Northeast of the US, with plans to launch in autumn 2020.

Mueller made his strategy clear, saying GCE were not looking for lots of partners to just offer small programmes with. Instead, they want to limit the partners to a select few and scale-up on valuable programme offerings over time.

Trying to assuage investors, Mueller distanced themselves from other leaders in the OPM space who have reported losses during a particularly tumultuous 2019.

Competitor 2U’s stocks were slashed by 65 percent in just 24 hours after it told investors the company was not growing as well as hoped in an increasingly competitive market.

Mueller believes GCE has the upper-hand, offering “twice as many services including operational services that most OPMs don’t offer.” These include:

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“Programme and curriculum design, the learning management system, faculty services, including recruitment training and assessment, admissions intake including transcript evaluation, comprehensive financial aid services, automated class scheduling, fully develop academic and counseling services including course reminder calls, practitioner or licensure follow-ups, schedules built or changed in technical support.”

It plans to move into the online adult learning space – the fastest growing sector of higher education.

GCE will take academic programmes designed for the traditional campus-based learning experience and adapt it to suit online learning. This, Mueller says, is by far the most cost-effective way to enter the new space.

GCE reported US$174.8 million in net revenue for the quarter, a 23 percent year-over-year increase when adjusted to account for its shift from recording all of GCU’s revenue to claiming just a 60 percent cut as its services provider. The company is projecting US$777.7 million in net revenue for the year.