Giving Compass' Take:

• Allison Dulin Salisbury argues that mega-universities should lead the way on quality assurance to prove their value.

• How can funders help this type of organization improve quality assurance? 

• Learn about the impact of accreditation on higher education innovation

Mega-universities are on the rise. Institutions like Southern New Hampshire University, Western Governors University, Liberty University, Grand Canyon University and Arizona State University are aiming to reshape higher education through massive investments in technology, new approaches to teaching and credentialing, and an appetite for growth.

Their enrollments—driven by online students—are skyrocketing, even as colleges and universities on the whole see a decline. SNHU now serves 130,000 students, and WGU’s enrollment is clocking in at around 110,000 students.

Today’s mega-universities, which serve a growing population of nontraditional students, should be leading the charge on quality assurance. They should be eager to prove—with clear and verified accounting—that they are a truly different model, not just the for-profit playbook remade under a non-profit brand. Such transparency would also help safeguard and advance the higher education field more broadly.

Mega-universities are, arguably, currently operating under a federal outcomes structure that is better suited to institutions serving a non-traditional population. When the Department of Education fully updatesthe College Scorecard, it will be possible to track completion and earnings outcomes of students who use federal financial aid down to the programmatic level—and not just for first-time, full-time students. That will be a welcome advance.

But the Scorecard will still be incomplete, as it will count only those students who receive federal financial aid. Many still pay out of pocket. And mega-universities are increasingly developing direct partnerships with companies and employers that cover tuition and fees for their employees.

Read the full article about mega-universities by Allison Dulin Salisbury and Michael B. Horn at EdSurge