OHIO — For the first time, two universities in the U.S. are letting go of the idea of elitism and competition for students. Instead, they’re collaborating to build an independent university system made up of schools all across the country. 

What You Need To Know

  • The goal is for the national university collaboration to be fully operational in the fall of 2023 
  • The new independent system will serve adult learners

  • Short term certificates will be given in partnership with employers that can be stacked into degrees over time

President John Comerford of Otterbein University said they, along with Antioch University, pursued this avenue because Otterbein is very traditional, meaning it isn’t set up well for adult learners.

“So the partnership with Antioch University is taking advantage of their great work in that adult learning space," said Comerford. "The idea is there'll be lots of schools like Otterbein that want to serve adult learners, but we'll need to collaborate in that space.”

While adult learners are a target, so are underserved students who struggle with affordability and accessibility.

"The idea is to tap into that population, not just because it's the right thing to do, but because we need the talent, we need them in the workforce," said Comerford. "And so here's a national mechanism to be able to tap into that for all of our good."

Serving a wider population will allow students to be admitted into both schools, which could shorten the time in which people get degrees and give them the chance to “Get a bachelor's and a master's in a five-year period, and that's one less year of tuition and that's one more year on the workforce,” he said. 

Currently, both Otterbein and Antioch Universities are in talks with other universities around the country about connecting to the new initiative. In the meantime, both will go through the federal and state regulatory process.