The First 1-Million Student University

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Brandon Busteed, President of University Partners and Global Head of Learn-Work Innovation at Kaplan, joined the podcast to postulate how higher ed gets to its first 1-million student university, and the perceived brand roadblocks in the way.

The elite universities are actually at morerisk than anybody thinks. They're at risk, one for ultimately being considered country clubsmore than institutions of higher education, and that's because they disproportionally serve studentsand families from the highest income levels in the United States. They do avery poor job enrolling from the bottom quintile. You're listening to enrollment growth university fromHelix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking togrow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growthtechniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place.Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proudnumber of the connect e Tou podcast network. I'm Eric Olsen with Helix Education andwe're here today with Brandon bustied, president of university partners and Global Headof learned work innovation at Kaplan. Brandon, welcome to the show. Please tobe with you. AM looking forward to our conversation. Thank you.Are Looking forward as well talking you today about how higher it gets to itsfirst one million student university. But before we dig in, can you givethe listeners a little bit of background on both Kaplan and your rule. They'resure. Most people, of course, know the Kaplan name and many situationsthat's because they went through some sort of a test prep or industry recognize credentialexam prep program that we've done. But we are a global and highly diversifiededucation organization that does substantial work with universities here in the US and around theglobe and large employers, and in fact about half of all of our operationsare dedicated to supporting university partners that we work with and across as things asdiverse as international student recruitment and other revenue and mission driven strategies such as onlinedegree and nondegree programs and various work readiness...

...initiatives that were supporting these universities withas well awesome branded to kick us off, I'm following up on a wonderful editorialyou wrote for Forbes recently that I really, really wanted to have youin the show to talk more about maybe start off this conversation with this foundation. Why don't we already have a one million student university in high read yet? Well, I would argue that we're on our way to that, orat least some institutions are, and those with the right ambition and drive andand, you know, kind of goal towards that could get there right.We also know that, although we're not exactly talking about universities, there areexamples out there of massively scaled educational entities. Moops are one of those examples.The massive open online courses course era, for example, which is getting readyto go public, has announced they have some seventy six million learners registeredon their platform. So I understand. Course, their is not a university, but there's, you know, an entity that's gotten the scale of someseventy six million learners. We've had to universities that have gotten, you know, substantially towards this kind of size. At its peak in two thousand andten, University of Phoenix, for example, boasted about four hundred and Sixtyzero students. And then, of course there's the public colleges and university systems thatare out there, some of which have well over a million students if youaggregate that across the system. So there's certainly example that are, you know, barking up the tree of a quote Unquote University of a million students.But in the context of the article I wrote about, if you take oneof our elite brand institutions, which are some of the most recognized and valuablebrands in the world, even more valuable than brands like coca cola or Google, they are institutions that have an opportunity to enroll in various forms, amillion students, for sure. Yeah, so you help paint a picture forus of what this looks like. Brandon...

...is someone who got their undergrad degreeand Grad degree from different subtenzerou student institutions. What does a one million student universitylook like? I mean, how big of a campus are we talkingabout here, Brandon? Yeah, so one of the obvious points. We'renot we're not talking about just a physical go campus. So take my AlmaModern Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. There's about six thousand undergraduate students whoactually live in Durham. Now I'm not talking about a Duke University ofa million students where all million of them are living in some physical capacity andDurham. Some percentage may continue too, obviously, and it might be asmall number like the six thousand that are there now. But, as youknow, a university of a million students in the future, especially coming outof covid in this pandemic disruption, is going to be a virtual university.So there may certainly be satellite and ground facilities and different locations either in thecountry or around the world, but primarily a million student university is going tolook like one that has a substantial virtual campus, meaning fully online programs,asynchronous, synchronous, hybrid options. So it'll be substantially filled out by studentswho are either entirely online learners or hybrid online learners in some form. That'sthat's how we get to a university of a million students in this day andage. Yeah, let's talk beyond modality. So with non traditional students in particular, wishing this growing, growing trend for, you know, not degreecentric programs in this one million student directically university. How many of these studentsdo you believe would be earning traditional degrees at this university versus other kinds ofcredentials? Yeah, if we take a step back and look at the trendsthe last ten con session gutive years, degree seeking enrollment in US colleges anduniversities has been on the decline. We've now lost more than two point fivemillion students enrolled in degree seeking program since its peaks. That's the that's theraw number, right, but it's ten...

...consecutive years of decline and there areforecasts, because of population, age demographics and other factors, that suggest itcould be another ten years of decline. So, from a degree seeking perspective, US higher education is in decline and could be in decline for another decade. What is growing in US higher education are enrollments in nondegree shorter term educationalopportunities, many of which are aligned to reskilling and upskilling initiatives for people whowant to improve their economic outcomes of life get a better job. Right.So, certainly, as we think about a university of a million students,there are a lot of ways to break that down. Sure, a certainpercentage of that million, let's just make it up, a third might bedegree seeking students that either an associate, bachelor, master's level or even more. And and certainly there's going to be a substantial percentage who are coming inand out of shorter form educational opportunities, some of which could be for justthe general purpose of lifelong learning. They just want the intellectual fulfillment and stimulation, but most of them are going to be about real accountability outcomes. AreLooking for. I want to make more money, I want to give thispromotion, I want to change careers, right. So those are all thingsthat could come in many different forms. Certificate program sure, industry recognize credentials. Definitely what I call new collar apprenticeship type programs where universities can play asignificant role there. So there's a lot of different ways to kind of piecestogether and include some of the other trends that we're seeing right now, largegrowth in boot camp type offering. So all of that right still qualifies inmy book as a student. Now some are degree seeking, some are,you know, students that you would qualify in different ways, but the fundamentalpoint here is how many learners are we serving right through our brand and andwhat is the value of that learning that we're providing? We could easily seeinstitutions get to a million student enrollments if...

...you take that broad view of it. For sure, let's talk about the brand fear of going open access enoughto be able to get to a million students. Let's take your Alma Mater, for example, Brandon so would your degree from Duke mean the same thingif some of Duke's students are getting their degree or other credential online through theCorsera platform for five thousand dollars? Well, so let's take a couple examples andI'll I'll answer your question about you know, my view of a Dukeors you know my own view of the value of my degree. Start withan Arizona State University. Right, Arizona State University has become, I wouldargue, one of the elite institutions of higher education, not because of theirselectivity, but many people have heard President Michael Crowadays who talk about this,that they define themselves not by how many students they turn away but by howmany students they serve, and that strategy, along with all of the various waysthat they've driven innovation within the assue system, has made them an eliteuniversity. Elite by way of how recognize their brand, or is you know, they've been named the most innovative university in the country for I don't knowhow many years running. So that strategy of growing the institution has made ita more prominent institution. There's no doubt in my mind that it's also madethe degree of somebody who holds an Arizona State University degree more valuable, notjust the ones who are getting them now but those who got it thirty yearsago before a issue became such a prominent brand, not just in the nationallandscape but internationally as well. You look at institutions like Western governors and southernNew Hampshire University. These are institutions that either didn't exist or were unheard oftwenty years ago and now they're among the most prominently known institutions in the country. Again, they're not thought of as elite from kind of a selectivity perspective, but they are among the most recognized brands and higher it because they havegrown, because they have tried to enroll...

...in serve or students and do soin different ways. So let's go back to a Duke University, Right.You know, I've made this distinction that I don't think the duke is evergoing to become a million students in Durham. Right. There is still going tobe a Duke University of a residential experience for traditionally aged eighteen to twentytwo year olds to value deeply beyond campus residential experience and all the things thatcome with it. Right. But you think about it, already there's Dukecourses on Corsara, just like there are Harvard courses and mit courses on boththe Corsara and ed x platforms, and some of those courses have been takenby tens of thousands and in some cases even millions of students. So we'realready at a place where, at least at a course level, there aremillions of students taking courses from these elite institutions. I'll ask a simple question. Does anybody think that the brand of a duke or a Harvard has beenhurt because they put some of their courses on an edex or a corse?Are Definitely not. If anything, it's improved and grown the brand visibility.Then, when it comes to getting a degree, think about it in asimple way. There's two ways I could get a bachelor's degree from Duke University. One is the traditional way that exists now on campus, and there's onlysix thousand seats for those students. Okay, that's very selective, it's very elite, but I could also choose because of various reasons, I don't wantto leave my country travel to go abroad to study. I don't have themoney to live physically on campus and Duke University. But if I could doa bachelor's degree in certain programs from Duke coniversity entirely online, if two wereto make those degrees much more affordable in terms of the price points, nowyou've got just an entirely different market of students. Right. These are notgoing to be the same students that overlap with the ones who desperately want theon campus residential experience. Oh but, by the way, you could stillhave the same exact criteria for admissions.

You know, people think, ohGeez, you know, you know, how could you serve a million students? The only way you do that is by lowering the academic standards of theseinstitutions. Let me take a step back and just give everybody the global numberhere. There's about seven billion people on the planet, give or take,and I looked this up. The average IQ of a Harvard student, forexample, people have actually done studies on that, is about one hundred andforty five. Right, one hundred and forty five about the average IQ ofa Harvard stude, which is considered genius level. Right in these ratings.Now there's only about one out of seven hundred and fifty people who have anIq of one hundred forty five. But if you multiply that across the sevenbillion global planet population, it means that about ten million people have an Iqto qualify at a Harvard level. IQ Ten million and people around the globe. That is a huge number, right. So. So do I think we'dactually have to lower academic standards to reach a Harvard or Duke of amillion? I do not. Beautiful Defense, friend, and I really, reallylike it, but because of this brand fear that you can so beautifullyrebell against and other reasons, do you think this is why, or we'reone of the reasons why Google, Amazon may likely be quicker to get toa million students, faster than Harvard does, faster than Duke or others to?Yeah, no, there's a real potential that you're starting to see italready. You know the Google certific text certificates that are being offered, andit's interesting. One of the other articles I wrote on forbs maybe a yearand a half ago now, was from some research that I there that waswas fascinating and that parents, when asked what they would prefer as a pathto a good job for their child, either, you know, a Harvarddegree or an internship at Google. The majority would take an internship at Googleover the Harvard degree. Now that tells you a couple fascinating things. Google'sbrand is as strong, or maybe slightly...

...stronger than Harvard, because you askyourself the question back this up. Why do I want my kid to goto Harvard? Why do I want them to go to an elite University PrecedesUniversity? Well, there's a few reasons, but one is to get a jobat an elite employer. Right. So I wanted to go to Harvardso that they can get a great job at Google or or we kinsy orwhatever, inserve your name of, you know, a top brand employer.So that the fashioning point about that data was that, yes, if Googlestarted to offer internships where parents had to pay to get their kid in internship, I bet it would be an incredible business for Google because there would bea lot of people who would pay for that. So took to your pointGoogle brands and Amazon brands, if they really become a pathway to get peopleeducated or prepared for really well paying jobs, they are going to become the equivalentof prestigious universities. They may circumnavigate the prestidious universities or start to dopartnerships with them, and I'm pretty sure, Scott Galloway, that the nyu professorwho's very provocative on these points, has talked about this, that youknow that you're going to see a Google University and it made partner with GoogleHarvard or google mit or Google dude. Right, we could see those kindsof things. But to answer your question, I think it's a very good one. You know, the elite universities are actually at more risk than anybodythinks. They're at risk, one for ultimately being considered country clubs more thaninstitutions of higher education, and that's because they disproportionately serve students and families fromthe highest income levels in the United States. They do a very poor job inrolling from the bottom quintile, for example, which across the Ivy League, only three point eight percent of the students in the entire Ivy League comefrom the bottom quintile socio economically right. So that's a real challenge. Theyrun the risk of being considered more of a country club than an elite institutionof Higher Ed. And then, you...

...know, you have the the ideahere that top employer brands right may start to create very effective pathways where,you know, eager beaber students who aren't interested in racking up debt, justwant to get into workplace faster, etc. They literally may take a different routethan the the traditional college route. So there's some interesting things out there, for sure. Some interesting things out there for sure, and you areone of them, Brandon. Love your thoughts on this. Any final nextsteps? Advice for institutions who are trying to figure out how do I scale? Who Do I partner with? How do I, you know, embracetechnologies of scale, but I'm scared about losing my brand. How do Inavigate that next step? Well, there's a couple things. Obviously, brandmatters and you want to protect a brand, you want to defend a brand.I mean those things I appreciate very much, but I think there's abig difference between thinking about, okay, is our brand simply about selectivity?And if it's selectivity, why can't we scale? What that selectivity? Goto my global data right there's ten million people who have an it to getinto a Harvard right now. They might not all be academically prepared, butso why should that be an issue? Why wouldn't even elite institutions start tooffer preparatory programs for those people who have the intellectual capability and horsepower to doit? That's not a down brand move. That is a mission expansion opportunity thatthe world would be thrill to see. Right. So I think it's moreabout thinking about mission impact and worrying about brand erosion. And I'll goback to an interesting personal story. You know, we used to live inthe Boston area and we had a no pair one year who was from Ukraine. We lived in Sherban Massachusetts, which was quite a whole from Cambridge righthe had to take a couple different you know, a train to the metro, switch Metros, etc. The tea is what it's called of Boston.But anyway, she instead of going to Framingham State, which had English languagecourses right down the street from us,...

...she chose to go to Harvard ExtensionSchool to take English language courses and she literally took an hour and twenty minutesto get to Harvard to do this. And Harvard Extension School. That's beenaround for ages, but like that's an example. Harvard Extension School hasn't denigratedto Harvard brand in any way, but this, you know, this youngperson from Ukraine would take an hour and fifteen minutes to get to in anotherhour fifteen minutes to get back just to take English language courses at a platecalled Harvard right even though she could have done it right down the street atFramingham State. That's ultimately what we're talking about here. Brandon. Thanks somuch your time today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with youif they have any follow up questions? Yeah, I mean happy to,you know, connect with folks. Spend a lot of time, you know, having dialog live, dialog on Linkedin, so certainly, you know, connectwith me on Linkedin and those who want to reach me directly, it'sBrandon Dot busteed busteed at Kaplancom and I'm happy to have folks reach out tome directly. Awesome. Thanks so much for joining us today, Brandon.Thanks are good plays to talk with the great questions. Attracting today's new posttraditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies, helix educations, data driven enterprise wideapproach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new educationlandscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbookwith fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollmentgrowth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Slash playbook. You'vebeen listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you nevermiss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or your favorite podcast player.Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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