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National University System Buys UniversityNow's Platform

July 10, 2018

The National University System has purchased technology from UniversityNow, a venture that had worked to create online, competency-based programs and that operates Patten University. The California-based system, a nonprofit that enrolls roughly 35,000 students, will use UniversityNow's platform to create self-paced (but not strictly competency-based) online degree programs with annual tuition rates of $8,500. The system did not disclose the purchase price of the deal with UNow.

Dubbed FlexCourse, the system's new platform will offer several degrees -- an M.B.A., bachelor's degrees, an associate of arts in general studies -- through its John F. Kennedy University.

Michael Cunningham, chancellor of the National University System, said in an interview that JFK University plans eventually to use FlexCourse in all of its offerings. And he anticipates that it will be able to bring tuition in those programs down farther, perhaps to $5,000 per year, in part because the platform is designed to recruit and assess students at relatively low cost.

National is conducting a $20 million project to design general education courses for adult students that combine adaptive courseware, predictive analytics and competency-based learning. Through its Precision Institute, the university is sharing what it learns and develops in the experiment.

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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