The Republican - UMass Web Effort Successful

The Republican - UMass Web Effort Successful

For the fourth year in a row, UMassOnline has increased its enrollments and revenues.

That's been the case since the University of Massachusetts' Web-based learning division was launched in 2001. Revenue and enrollments grew by 30 percent an d19 percent, respectively in fiscal year 2005. Revenue was $16 million, up from $12 million in fiscal 2004. Enrollments reached 17,554, up from 14,702 in fiscal 2004.

In fiscal 2001, there were 5,275 students enrolled and revenues amounted to $3.5 million.

"It's very gratifying to see the continued growth of the online initiative," said David J. Gray, chief executive officer of UMassOnline, which is based in Shrewsbury. "I think we're bringing to the market the right kinds of services our target audience is demanding."

The service offers students, many working professionals, courses that include class lectures, live chats with professors and students, and tests - all online. Currently, 45 graduate, undergraduate and non-credit degrees and certificates as well as 300 online courses are offered annually. For many, convenience is the reason they choose UMassOnline.

"It's certainly convenient," said Larissa A. Daigle of Bernardston, who will graduate in May with a bachelor's degree from the University Without Walls program at UMass-Amherst. "On Sunday morning in my bathrobe with my cup of tea I can do a lesson, instead of rushing to a class."

Daigle has taken six courses from UMassOnline. She said she recommends it.

"If the only thing that stands between you going back to college or taking a course is getting to campus, then the online world is where you need to be," she said.

UMassOnline includes all five campuses. More than 90 percent of the revenue is retained by the campuses to support education and research programs. Every year, new courses and programs are offered. This year, UMass-Worcester Medical School's continuing medical education program was added. Other new programs are expected this year, Gray said.

"It's an area that is just natural for universities to get into," Gray said. "We're continually looking for new areas of opportunity."

by Holly Angelo

Date: 04/17/05