I've written before (posts too numerous to list here, search under the "higher education" label) about the for-profit higher ed sector and its woes. When online education first became a thing some ten years ago, enthusiastic boosters predicted that the University of Phoenix would put traditional "brick and mortar" institutions out of business. Turns out that maybe that model isn't so robust:
I could speculate as to why things have gone this way, but I would do so largely without data. It's tempting, from the point of view of traditional higher ed, to say that this is a failure of Phoenix and its brethren to manage to produce a quality product. There's some truth to that - by all known measures of quality and productivity (publications, grants, stature and reputation of faculty, patents, etc.) online "universities" can't begin to compete with even middle-tier traditional institutions, whose faculties are filled with PhDs from eminent institutions who don't just teach, but expand the frontiers of knowledge on a daily basis. Possibly that edge in quality of faculty - who are, in essence, the "product" that universities sell - has persuaded the market.
Whatever the underlying causes, I expect to see more news items like this one in coming months and years. Online universities won't disappear overnight - they may find a market niche and hang on for a very long time. But the chances of their dominating the higher education landscape in the future look increasingly remote.