The University of Florida on Wednesday announced that it is terminating a huge 11-year deal for Pearson to build and manage the university's online programs. The announcement came in an internal email obtained and published by Politico Florida. The email says the university will be better able to serve online students by including them in general university operations and obtaining some new specialized help for some areas, such as marketing.
The size of the deal (Pearson could have earned $186 million if it met all goals) has made it a target of criticism from some on campus. The agreement included a provision stating that Florida could withdraw or renegotiate if certain goals weren't met. And out-of-state enrollment goals weren't met, giving the university the option it is now exercising. A month ago, both sides said they were in discussions that could have led to the agreement being modified, not ended.
Pearson released the following statement: "In November 2013, Pearson and the University of Florida signed a landmark agreement to deliver UF Online. In that time, Pearson made a significant up-front investment in this program, shouldering much of the risk, including building a Florida-based staff and developing the marketing effort around the program. We are disappointed that the university has decided not to move forward with this partnership. There are always challenges when launching innovative, multifaceted programs such as this, especially at highly competitive institutions and on such a tight timeline. It is important to note there have been successes. UF saw an 84 percent increase in UF Online student enrollment this fall when compared to fall 2014 and continues to expand the number of online undergraduate programs with a total of 19 majors from six colleges slated to be offered by next fall. Due to the reduced in-state tuition offered through UF Online, Florida students have saved over $3.5 million in tuition since the inception of the program. Pearson is proud to offer programs that make higher education more accessible and affordable for students. Pearson's online program management services have been successful at a number of colleges and universities across the U.S. We have learned a great deal from the UF partnership that can be applied to helping both Pearson and other university customers improve their delivery of online options for students."