Drive thru U? Colleges outsourcing classes to private companies

For a long time, colleges have been searching for ways to lower costs and bring in more students. Recently, Kansas' Fort Hays State University took the next step in blurring the line between higher education and big business when it announced that it will essentially subcontract part of its core curriculum to an online company. Under this arrangement, a company named StraighterLine would administer courses and grade students. Fort Hays, in turn, would list the classes on its transcripts, essentially giving its imprimatur to the company.

This move, while radical, is not unexpected. Numerous universities are exploring ways to lower costs by subcontracting core curriculum classes. Companies like StraighterLine and Higher Ed Holdings enable schools to attract students with low-cost offerings, while saving money on instructor salaries.