Otterbein and Antioch Universities are combining forces—but not merging—to develop an affiliation that aims to make a nationwide university process targeted on graduate education and adult learners.

Mergers and acquisitions across increased instruction have designed countrywide headlines in the latest several years as colleges make these kinds of moves to stay afloat. But the affiliation, announced Thursday, in between Otterbein and Antioch features a various strategy, 1 far more similar to a business enterprise alliance.

The two universities hope to officially launch shared courses by slide 2023. But they never strategy to prevent there, as leaders for the two institutions tell Inside of Bigger Ed that they intend to convey more faculties under the affiliation umbrella to make the however-to-be-named method certainly nationwide.

The Plan

Facts emerging on the effort at Otterbein and Antioch—which is independent of the improved-acknowledged Antioch College—are basically a rough sketch. Officers take note they will will need acceptance from their existing accreditors, which they anticipate will consider about a year. As they hold out, leaders intend to sharpen their small business program and develop early courses. Though they’ve identified regions for collaboration, particular systems haven’t been declared.

The concentrate will be on graduate instruction, degree completion and workforce enhancement.

Nevertheless suggestions for the partnership are still using condition, leaders visualize a technique in which just about every higher education maintains its personal exclusive identity, governing board and accreditation even though remaining aspect of a countrywide process that can present collaborative courses, shared solutions and other pros. Otterbein and other colleges joining the technique that have undergraduates will continue to keep their athletics courses individual.

Antioch president William Groves famous that a selection of faculties have approached the university—which has multiple campuses across the U.S. and on the web offerings—in modern several years about an affiliation. And though none of individuals partnerships were workable, it got the ball rolling on the notion, so Antioch introduced in a guide and formulated a list of likely companions.

Out of all around 60 establishments that have been considered, Groves stated, Otterbein rose to the leading.

“Our target was to recognize the modify in the larger education and learning landscape and the consolidation in the market. We desired to be at the starting of this cycle, not at the conclude of it,” he stated. “We needed to pick out a companion that was appropriate for Antioch, 1 that was centered on a similar mission and price-centered instruction that Antioch is centered on and has been because its inception. Mission was essential, financial viability was significant and complementary packages have been essential.”

With the primary campuses for each colleges located in Ohio, the partnership makes feeling geographically. But far more importantly, Groves explained, it will make perception from a mission standpoint.

John Comerford, president of Otterbein, mentioned that phone calls to produce partnerships commenced coming during the pandemic. Marketplace difficulties, these kinds of as a shrinking pool of traditional undergraduate learners, also factored into Otterbein’s conclusion to associate with Antioch to broaden its choices.

“When we’re principally reliant on 18- to 22-year-aged standard undergraduates, we fully grasp the issues of that market place. How do you assume in new ways about capability to provide new college students?” Comerford reported.

Signing up for forces with Antioch delivers an speedy enlargement to a new market place of students. Although Otterbein presently delivers constrained graduate selections, this will let the university to acquire far more.

“It’s a way to sustain, at least from Otterbein’s seat, the distinctiveness of our traditional undergraduate system, which is not properly set up structurally for good results in the adult place,” Comerford reported. “But Antioch is, so we can have the best of equally worlds in a design like this.”

And though Otterbein and Antioch are in search of extra partners to be a part of the national process they envision, Comerford explained they’ll be picky. They are trying to get a mission in shape as well as financial viability, and future associates shouldn’t view membership as a Hail Mary for failing schools.

“I would just say that you have to do this from a position of power,” Comerford reported. “This is not the way to save a school that is on death’s doorway. That is not what this is about.”

The however-creating system bears some similarities to other formal larger education and learning partnerships involving private nonprofit faculties. (Community faculties and universities, of program, are more obviously identified in programs and other groupings.) For example, the 3-member National University Program delivers alongside one another Countrywide University, Town University of Seattle and Northcentral University beneath just one umbrella. Likewise, the TCS Instruction Procedure, which has 5 faculty partners, is a further comparative product.

Greater Ed Affiliations

David King, a management professor at Florida State College who research mergers and acquisitions, explained affiliations across higher education have been trending up in latest many years. Although such affiliations are not unheard of, he notes they are witnessed extra in the small business planet.

Affiliations offer particular benefits, these kinds of as jointly taking care of and marketing programs.

“That can then lower charges. It is a way of primarily escalating the revenues that both of those would see, and ideally, they’ll be in a position to catch the attention of extra persons to it,” King explained. “Then it lowers their fees, since they have fewer services, instructors, employees and other factors.”

Some academic packages are ripe for affiliation, these as those that are costly to present. King factors to FSU’s joint engineering application with Florida A&M College as one these instance.

But King notes that there can be difficulties in addition to advantages.

“The difficulty is that you no longer have as a lot management more than your model. You are supplying courses that are going to be taught by a person you didn’t employ, and the high-quality of what fundamentally is delivered is only partly below your control—and which is typically where alliances are unsuccessful,” King reported.

Some experts notice that partnering with proven universities to immediately accessibility present courses is a more quickly and more inexpensive way of growing choices than developing them from scratch. For instance, pending acceptance of its partnership, Otterbein could see a radical growth of graduate courses in a short time period of time relatively than setting up those people about decades.

“Clearly, establishments are intrigued by the prospective benefits of coming jointly,” explained John MacIntosh, taking care of lover of SeaChange Money Companions, which manages the Transformational Partnerships Fund established by a number of philanthropic foundations to help colleges take a look at possible collaboration possibilities.

There are also rewards of scale—ways to mix forces throughout spouse campuses to decrease personnel workloads in selected areas—but MacIntosh thinks individuals expense price savings are significantly less vital to colleges than the blended marketing and advertising electric power and visibility that will entice learners.

But the major concern schools need to identify when contemplating partnerships is what is required.

“Do we need to have to try out to turn out to be a lot more productive and efficient in the back office environment? Do we have to have to come across ways to increase our recruitment and enrollment and retention? Do we need to in some way broaden our tutorial method to be additional steady with what the college students we’re serving want? Or do we want all of the over?” MacIntosh claimed. “I believe it is hazardous to type of seem for just a single detail in an affiliation, and I think the much better dilemma is, how could this deal with our desires in excess of all?”

MacIntosh also proposed that there is area for optimism about these types of partnerships. He expects accreditors to be open up-minded about new structures provided a have to have for innovation in better ed.

He believes this sort of partnerships are cause for celebration—particularly when leaders are hunting for methods to innovate instead than chasing desperate suggestions to maintain failing colleges alive.

“Of system, there are heaps of issues about how this is likely to perform,” MacIntosh mentioned. “But we should be celebrating these kinds of new concepts, especially from two institutions that have said—and I feel that it is true—that they’re not below any sort of fast money force.”