University of Arkansas rolled online college into school it purchased

Trustees at University of Arkansas last month voted to scrap the system’s eight-year-old online college and merge it with the assets of Grantham University, a for-profit, online school it purchased last year.

The decision, which came during a May 26 board meeting, signaled the end of Arkansas’ eVersity program and the launch of UA Grantham, which will be the university system’s online option going forward.

Arkansas, like many other state university systems, attempted to launch an online college in the 2010s to serve a broader range of students, including non-traditional learners. But enrollment at the University of Arkansas eVersity, as the program was called, was weak — according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, there were only 120 students when the board voted.

By comparison, Grantham enrolled more than 5,500 students when the Arkansas system purchased it — including its liabilities — last year for $1. The school, which traces its origins to a radio-license school in Los Angeles circa 1951, evolved over the years into a for-profit online school, operating out of Kansas, that primarily served military and veterans. It’s now a public university.

According to the agenda for the University of Arkansas board meeting last month, eVersity classes will wrap up in July, and any remaining students will be transferred to UA Grantham, as will eVersity staff members.

The consolidation of Arkansas’ online program mirrors steps taken by other state university systems. The University of Arizona in 2020 purchased the for-profit Ashford University — also for $1 — and rebranded the 30,000-student online school as the University of Arizona Global Campus. And in 2017, Purdue University launched its “Global” school when it bought out the assets of Kaplan University from Graham Holdings, which also once owned the Washington Post.

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