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Why 2U Believes Greater Transparency Matters in Online Higher Ed

Written by David Sutphen on Nov 18, 2020

Related content: Higher Education, Outcomes, Digital Education

For adults of all ages, deciding to “go back to school” is an important and very personal decision. Some people choose to further their post-secondary education as an adult simply because they have a personal passion for learning. Others do so to advance in their profession or just to stay relevant in an ever-changing economy. Regardless of motivation, lifelong learning is a new norm and necessity, and, because of its flexibility and convenience, online education has become the preferred path for millions of adult learners returning to school.

According to a November 2020 Public Viewpoint survey conducted by Strada Education Network, 44% of Americans surveyed say that if they were to enroll in education or training in the next six months, they would opt for an online education or training program. Even after the COVID-19 threat subsides, 30% of Americans surveyed say they would prefer online only. With so many adult learners choosing to pursue their education online, we believe it is important to provide greater transparency about our partnerships with non-profit universities, the nature and quality of the offerings we power, and the great student outcomes we deliver together.

With that in mind, last year, 2U became the first edtech company to commit to the release of an annual Transparency Report. Our inaugural 2019 Transparency Report, which we released today, is grounded in six core pillars: University Oversight and Accountability; Marketplace Openness; Access; Affordability; Quality; and Outcomes. Taken together, we believe these pillars provide parents, students, and policymakers with important data and information about our business and partnerships with non-profit universities.

Here are some of the key highlights from our 2019 Transparency Report:

  • 2U has invested $1.3 billion in our non-profit partners’ degree programs since inception;¹
  • 34% of students in our partners’ degree programs were Black/African American or Hispanic in 2019;²
  • 30% of students in our partners’ boot camps did not have a college degree³ and our Career Services team made over 7,300 employment referrals for graduates in 2019;
  • 18% of students who enrolled in a 2U-powered degree program did not have an equivalent degree program within 50 miles from where they live;⁴
  • 2U-powered degree programs have a 72% graduation rate and the 2019 Term 1 to Term 2 retention rate is 86%.⁵

At a time when delivering high-quality online education has never been more in demand and critical to meeting the needs of society, we believe greater transparency about quality and outcomes matters. And the release of our inaugural 2019 Transparency Report demonstrates that 2U is committed to leading the way in fostering that transparency. We hope our report will inspire more companies to follow in our footsteps.

Although transparency and data matter in helping adult learners make informed choices about their education—whether they’re going back to school to further their career or pursue a personal goal—the quality and value of an educational experience cannot be captured in numbers only. So we invite you to learn more about 2U’s programs, partners, and faculty, as well as the personal stories and experiences of students here on The Latest.




¹ Defined as the all-time (2008-2019) marketing and sales, servicing and support, and technology and content development expenses plus capitalized content development costs.

² Demographic data are self-reported by students. Figures above are based on the total number of students that reported demographic data through December 31, 2019 for those programs and students to which 2U has access to the information. This includes race/ethnicity data for 72 percent of students.

³ Demographic data are self-reported by students. Figures above are based on the total number of students that reported demographic data through December 31, 2019 for those programs and students to which 2U has access to the information. 89 percent of students provided level of education data.

⁴ Data is self-reported, inception to December 31, 2019.

⁵ Term 1 to Term 2 retention rate is defined as the percent of students who enroll in a program and remain through the add/drop period in 2019 who also enroll in the subsequent second term of the program and remain through the add/drop period, excluding students on leaves of absence. Graduation rate is defined as the number of students that have graduated from our programs, as a percentage of the total number of students that enrolled in our programs (and remain through the add/drop period). Includes all students in programs that started at least 3 years ago.

Learn more about us.

At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help universities thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.