January 8, 2021
Billions of dollars are flowing to third parties to provide everything from dorms to online courses.
MEDFORD, Mass. — The Tufts University campus was a quiet place in the fall, where students were scolded to stay in their dorms, checked frequently for Covid-19 and — if they tested positive — quarantined in modular housing set up on the tennis courts.
As with much in higher education this academic year, the real activity was online, where the university was busy launching a new virtual master’s degree in data science and an online program in computer science for people who already have bachelor’s degrees.
Aimed at consumers needing to find new jobs or preparing for graduate school, the offerings seemed well timed to attract students.
What students won’t see in the promotional materials or when they register, however, is that the programs are being managed by a private, for-profit company called Noodle that is being paid $12,000 to $22,000 per month, per program, plus $88 per credit hour, per student, according to a list of fees disclosed by Noodle.