As a form of outsourcing in higher education, online program management (OPM) is not remarkable. Universities regularly, and with little fanfare, outsource many functions that used to be done in-house. Bookstores, dining halls, housing facilities, parking garages, and housekeeping are all part of the outsourcing model in American higher education.
This brief is intended to explain why the “OPM” phenomenon is looked at differently and propose some policy options that may productively guide current and future regulation. It is premised on the notion that OPMs are an unanticipated development in higher education. The phenomenon currently exists in a liminal state, with regulatory oversight having little direct involvement. Policymakers and accreditation agencies need to consider if the present laissez-faire approach is appropriate, or if a more focused regulatory agenda is needed.
By Kevin Kinser, Sarah Zipf, John Cheslock | Pennsylvania State University.