We are in the midst of a transformational era in higher education. Technology is reshaping how we work and fundamentally redefining what it means to have a career, forcing us all to become lifelong learners.
In the face of this new reality, leaders across academia are confronting a clear challenge: how to fully embrace the digital era while preserving the best of what has defined their institution, often for centuries. This need to adapt represents a stark change from adhering to a proven model that, for generations, has enabled universities to become a singularly powerful force in creating upward mobility in our society.
We recognize that this can create fear - not necessarily of change, but of loss. One thing is undeniable, however; to preserve and build on their legacies in the digital era, institutional inertia is not an option.
2U, Inc. is a diverse collection of more than 2,000 individuals who share a common belief in the power of higher education to transform lives for the better. Every 2Ute — regardless of office, department, or tenure — is passionate about helping our university partners deliver life-changing outcomes for their students.
That purpose-driven mission and student-focused culture, combined with our scale and depth of investment in each partner, are what set our model apart. They are what make us more than just a vendor or another online program manager.
For a decade, 2U has been a trusted brand steward and the partner of choice to the world’s top universities in navigating the complexities of bringing the best of themselves into the digital age. At the foundation of our model is a genuine respect for what makes a university great: a strong and independent faculty, a commitment to academic rigor, and the critical interplay among students and faculty that comes from the intimacy of a live classroom.
We believe the best online education must be grounded in these core values — it is the reason why 2U partners have always maintained control over the accreditation process, the curriculum, faculty hiring, admission standards, and decisions about which students are accepted into their programs.
But delivering world-class digital education at scale is hard and expensive. It takes more than great faculty, administration, and teaching; it requires taking real capital risks upfront and investing over the long-term to:
- build a secure, accessible 24/7 learning and teaching platform that can reliably deliver intimate live classes and content to tens of thousands of students globally, regardless of their location;
- develop targeted, program-specific digital marketing campaigns using machine learning and AI that can reach and engage interested and qualified prospective students in a targeted, cost-effective manner;
- provide every partner and degree program with a dedicated team of highly-trained admissions and support counselors committed to delivering students with 24-hour personalized service;
- help partners identify and recruit qualified faculty and provide professors with training and support to enhance their online instruction in order to improve student outcomes;
- provide a comprehensive suite of services for faculty that enables effective digital education and transformative learning experiences for students: engaging accessible design, dynamic video, graphics, assessment and live session planning;
- operate an unparalleled nationwide network that facilitates in-time clinic, school, hospital, or other site-specific, real-world placements for students and supports their development through in-person experiences and events; and
- hire a team of experienced cyber and privacy experts to navigate and manage an increasingly complex global legal, regulatory, and security landscape.
Taken together, these are the bricks and mortar of the digital era — the new foundation upon which truly great online higher education is built. And 2U has an unmatched, ten-year track record of laying and reinforcing that foundation. It’s why we can deliver excellence and efficiency at scale.
Along the way to achieving that scale, we learned plenty of lessons — some the hard way — but three have stood out the most: trusted relationships matter; data matters; but institutional will matters above all.
We build and value trusted personal relationships with our partners because that human connection is essential to confronting and resolving difficult issues together. We rely heavily on data, and the ability to analyze it, because the insights that come from it are a powerful tool in making informed choices and preventing avoidable mistakes. But, most of all, we cherish and foster institutional will because, without it, real transformation is not possible.
Although the journey can be challenging at times, the positive outcomes that result from transformation are clear and undeniable for institutions, faculty, and students: enhanced teaching and learning experiences; best-in-class retention rates that rival or surpass campus-based programs; a larger and more diverse student body; greater domestic and global reach for your mission and brand; and the confidence and flexibility that comes from a steady and reliable surplus of revenue. Simply put, when students win, universities win, and 2U wins.
That clear alignment of interests among students, university partners, and 2U is ultimately what makes our purpose-driven business model so compelling and powerful. By coming together around one shared goal — delivering great student outcomes — not only are we improving lives, we are transforming the future of higher education for the better.