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Arnold Ventures Influence on ED Policy

Arnold Ventures Influence on ED Policy

Phil Hill & Associates

Phil Hill
May 8, 2023
On EdTech Newsletter by Phil Hill & Associates
What would lead the Department of Education (ED) to listen to and prioritize the advice given by a handful of think tanks and foundations advocating for removal of the bundled services exception and the expansion of the definition of third-party servicers (TPS) over the near-consensus feedback of the rest of the higher ed community? To develop regulatory guidance that ACEEducauseWICHE/WCETAACC, and a thousand other public commenters call misguided and likely to harm higher education institutions with no real benefit to students. To develop regulatory guidance Moody’s said increased credit risks to institutions as it “could lead to heavier administrative burdens and greater expenses.” All in an effort to rein in Online Program Management (OPM) companies.
Vocal Minority
I have shown in two different posts how fewer than 10% of public commenters (22 out of ~250) supported the removal of the bundled services exception and fewer than 1% (10 out of ~1100) support the expanded TPS guidance. Yet even after these comment periods ED refused to admit a mistake and simply rescind the TPS guidance.
Both actions – considering whether to remove the bundled services exception that underpins revenue-sharing agreements and the issued guidance expanding TPS definitions – were conflated by ED in the initial announcement and are clearly two approaches to the same issue. Leveraging our analysis and combining the two lists (while removing individuals) leads to a group of 16 organizations that supported either removing the bundled services exception or supported the expanded TPS definition or both.
Our role as market analysts is to understand and describe market trends and the explanation of why trends exist. As with nearly all organizations or markets, OPM contracts can be both good and bad in terms of helping higher education institutions and providing expanded educational opportunities for students. We have problems in US higher education such as high student debt loads and poor learning outcomes that the community needs to deal with, and the OPM market should not get a pass when looking for changes needed. Part of what is vexing about today’s anti-OPM movement is that the chosen regulatory methods will likely have no impact on these problems, but they will make life very difficult for institutions and also for students. See the linked public comments referenced above.
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