Digital learning is slowly but steadily changing the business model for higher education. Researchers at Arizona State University and the Boston Consulting Group found that online courses can improve retention and graduation rates, all while saving students time and money. And, online courses attract a more diverse pool of students, including more older students, women, and Pell Grant recipients. Of the 20 million individuals enrolled in higher education courses in the United States last year, six million enrolled in online courses.
As the demand for digital learning environments continues to grow, colleges and universities need to adapt to boost enrollment numbers, increase revenue, and boost full-time equivalency (FTE) and student credit hours (SCH). From enrollment, to course credits, to finding the right faculty, you have a lot to think about. How can you ensure your department meets FTE and SCH while offering a robust digital learning package? Here’s how digital learning can help higher learning institutions optimize FTE and SCH.
How Digital Learning Helps Colleges & Universities Optimize FTE
According to a 2018 study of six major universities, digital learning helps institutions reduce costs and optimize FTE by raising student-to-instructor ratios, employing a broad network of adjunct faculty or graduate teaching assistants, and avoiding high operational costs—when done right.
However, many institutions underestimate what it takes to develop the infrastructure and wraparound support necessary for strong online programs. At Caduceus, we provide institutions with the resources they need to increase enrollment and revenue, boost FTE, and offer instructors more course credits in the health sciences. Read on to learn how digital learning helps colleges and universities optimize full-time equivalency and student credit hours, and succeed in the digital age.
Increase Enrollment, Revenue, and Your Budget
High enrollment generates tuition revenue for specific departments, which in turn generates cash flow that can be used to create new faculty lines, or FTE. A 2018 market analysis prepared for the University of Massachusetts, or UMass, found that 55% of Massachusetts residents who were already studying online elsewhere said they’d be very or extremely likely to enroll at UMass instead, if it had an online program comparable in price and quality to the one they were already enrolled in.
With online courses, universities can begin attracting more students to their departments, increasing enrollment numbers and, therefore, increasing department revenue and university support.
How to Get Current Faculty on Board
Faculty members are often hesitant to try online teaching, but the market analysis found that the most successful institutions were able to allay faculty fears by engaging senior professors early, taking a collaborative approach to decision-making, supporting strong professional development programs, and providing faculty with incentives, like additional pay or course release. Working with a team of specialists can also help provide a hesitant faculty member with the expertise they need to successfully move forward designing and executing a digital course.
The additional cost of these incentives is quickly offset by reduced overhead required for digital learning. Larger class sizes, fewer physical facilities required, and greater use of adjunct faculty means more budget for the planning and implementation of digital learning.
Boost FTE and Offer Instructors More Course Credits
The term full-time equivalency is used throughout various industries, but FTE operates a little differently at most universities. Typically, college instructors work two semesters, or four quarters, working “full time” as determined by the number of credit hours they’re teaching.
Increasing the number of digital learning opportunities at your institution simultaneously increases FTE and SCH. With more classes open for enrollment, more faculty is required to fill the additional instructor roles. Having more faculty line offers more course credits. So, the more instructors within a department means more courses and course credits to offer for the year.
Here’s a simple way to estimate FTE needed at your institution. Suppose you need 1 FTE, or the equivalent of one full-time position. You can fill the position with one, full-time faculty member, or you could hire for multiple roles and split the time accordingly. Let’s say you need 1.3 adjunct faculty members, and 0.7 system administrators. If your work week is 40 hours a week—2,000 hours a year—your 0.7 system administrators will work 1,400 hours a year.
Use Online Courses to Optimize FTE
By increasing the number of courses offered online, digital learning can increase the amount of FTE needed at your institution. With more instructors available to take on more work, your online courses will thrive, enrolling high numbers of students and further optimizing your institution’s FTE.
When it comes to developing digital learning experiences and finding the right faculty to teach online courses, the right vendor plays a key role. Look for vendors that offer a complete turnkey solution, including:
- Course customization
- Easy student registration online or in your school’s bookstore
- Roster reports
- Analytics on student exams
- Student-automated quiz and exam reminders and alerts
- Test deadlines and course end dates
- 24/7 support for faculty and students
- Proctoring services
Caduceus provides top-quality, interactive health science curriculum to colleges, universities, and institutions wherever they are needed. Our comprehensive courses advance digital learning while increasing enrollment, revenue, budget, FTE and SCH.
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