FAQs for Online Instruction


November 18, 2016

How many students does UNCP have enrolled in online courses?

As of Fall Semester 2016, there are 1,028 fully online students, which is 16.2 % of UNCP’s total enrollment. In 2008, the percentage of online enrollment was 10.2%, now the percentage is 17.3%. This semester, 42% of all students are taking at least one online course. This follows the national trend, which has seen online education as the largest growth area of higher education in the last ten years. Nationally over 28% of all students in higher education, took an online course with 14% percent enrolling solely online, and the others combining on-campus courses with online learning.

What are the predictions for the future of higher education?

By 2020, online education will be the largest growth area in higher education. Eduventures (2015) is projecting online education growth rates to continue to rise with projections of 7% to 16% from 2017 to 2020. This phenomenon is impressive, given that overall enrollment of higher education has been predicted to decrease during that same period. Online education has now surpassed being an institutional accessory

What are the predictors of quality programs?

U.S. News and World Reports has been publishing its Best Colleges list for many years. Since its inception, the range of categories has included those such as affordability, type of program offerings and services available to online students. Over time the sections have expanded to include student engagement, faculty credentials, and training. The need for increasing our efforts to develop these areas expeditiously is crucial.

How is UNCP planning to meet the increasing demands for online courses and degree completion programs?

Goal 3.3 of UNCP’s strategic plan calls for us to “Create a more durable and robust infrastructure for online classes.” In that spirit, we will team with other campus stakeholders and outside agencies to increase online course offerings to meet the needs of regional students.

How does online enrollment affect UNCP’s budget?

Students enrolled in online programs pay full UNCP tuition and a reduced fee structure. Online students also contribute to the university’s revenue derived from the UNC enrollment growth formula. Additionally, online students are factored when calculating performance measures, including academic program productivity.

What is the cost of developing online programs and will it meet the timeline of increased demands?

Developing courses and degree completion programs is calculated by varying factors such as faculty time, the designer, media support and approval process. The length of time for course development may range from six to nine months depending on the level of instructional design applied to the class, the number of people who work on the course and whether an outside development vendor subsidizes the process. Distance Education will explore all options to identify a solution that best meets our needs.

Why would UNCP consider partnering with a vendor to develop sustainable and scalable online programs?

In keeping with the university’s core values, UNCP is committed to seeking innovative opportunities to add value and maximize limited resources and student outcomes. Partnering with an external vendor that specializes in market research, student recruiting, and scaling academic programs will open doors for the university that we currently do not have the time or staffing to open ourselves. These types of partnerships have proven to be win-wins for some of our sister institutions and could be for us as well.  

How are outside Online Program Development Vendors chosen?

The state and the University of North Carolina system both require that Request for Proposal (RFP) notices are sent to vendors prior to a purchase order being issued. The vendors submit plans for the consideration and the university’s proposal evaluation process begins. UNCP considers RFPs based on their ability to closely match our goals.

As enrollment competition increases, what are the expectations of online students?

Online students’ expectations include shorter academic terms (five to eight weeks); reasonable credit transfer policies; informative websites; and speedy response times on admission decisions, transfer credit reviews and financial aid packaging. These online student-friendly practices are becoming minimum requirements for institutions that are thriving in this arena.

Does the expansion of online programs jeopardize the availability of our online programs for our regional students?

No, half of online students live within 50 miles of their campus, and 65% live within 100 miles. 

If UNCP chooses to use a third-party vendor to expand access to high-quality online programs, who has control of the programs?

All content decisions and intellectual property reside with the faculty and the university. UNCP will maintain our emphasis on program quality, we will continue to set our admission standards, and we control the admission decisions. UNCP confers the grades and degrees. Students enrolled in these programs are UNCP students.

Will all of our online programs convert to the accelerated format?

No, only a few high-demand programs will use the accelerated format.

Will the conversion of these programs result in the discontinuation of traditional face-to-face formats for those programs?

No, as an institution we know the importance of maintaining our current traditional face-to-face programs and we have not had conversations about eliminating those programs. Choosing to partner and create select accelerated online programs will provide us with a model to offer affordable, quality programs that will reach a target market and will allow us to build scalable programs that will allow for sustainable university growth.