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May 11. 2014 4:07PM

SNHU’s pressure: Changing higher education in NH

Saturday was Graduation Day for 2,775 Southern New Hampshire University students. All of them could easily fit into the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. That cannot be said of all SNHU students. Though there are only a few thousand at the Manchester campus, the university has about another 25,000 online students. That is roughly 4,000 more people than live in Portsmouth.

SNHU has built a model for higher education that has proven tremendously popular.

Its College For America was the first institution in America to offer fully accredited online courses on a competency-based model, meaning students get their degrees based on their ability to demonstrate core knowledge, not on seat time. Last week College for America announced two $10,000 bachelor’s degrees, one in communications and one in health care management.

New Hampshire college graduates average the highest student debt in the nation. The University System of New Hampshire’s answer was to ask for more state subsidies and freeze tuition for two years. Yet things might be changing. The state university and community college systems have just announced that they have partnered to expand the community colleges’ nursing courses and cut costs for next year, partly through increased use of online courses.

Students all across New Hampshire will benefit if SNHU keeps up the competitive pressure.

If every university administrator felt motivated to compete on price and quality, prices and student debt loads would fall.


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