UNDATED (WJON News) - The Minnesota Inter Faculty Organization is applauding a recent decision by Minnesota State to limit St. Cloud State University’s online programming expansion plans.

Earlier this year, SCSU requested permission to add 11 online, accelerated programs aimed primarily at nontraditional students.

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Students, faculty, and community members raised questions about the quality of the accelerated programs, and SCSU’s contract with Academic Partnerships, the online management company that will provide the programs in return for half the tuition.

Minnesota State officials agreed to a compromise with SCSU – the school can add three accelerated, online courses to their catalog, with benchmarks and annual reporting requirements that must be reached before they’re allowed to add more.

Jenna Chernega is the President of the Inter Faculty Organization. She says the agreement protects students and faculty.

I appreciate the system office's cautious approach, it does lay out a set of metrics that I think are appropriate. It is possible that these programs are going to be fantastic, and I think that the guidelines put into place the protections we need. We need to see that it is financially sustainable, (and) it is good and meaningful for students.

Chernega says online program management companies have been found to engage in predatory sales practices and focus on delivering low-quality programs.

Those for-profit entities, because they're driven by the money, and (do not) have a mission that is about student success, will do whatever it takes to lower the cost of providing the education while still gathering as much tuition as possible from students. It's a very different model than a traditional institution would have.

After three years of appropriate academic and financial progress, Minnesota State will agree to another three online courses at SCSU.



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