Jones International University, the first completely online university in the world, has recently announced it will be closing its doors next year as a result of declining enrollment and increased competition.
Students and faculty members were notified this week of the impending closure. The school has promised not to close fully until all students have graduated or transferred to a new school. The majority of students are expected to transfer to Trident University International, while students in their final year will have the option to transfer or complete their program at Jones. The school could remain open for another 12 to 15 months until this process is completed.
“Our commitment to our students and their education has always been, and will continue to be, our top priority, and we will not close until we have helped all JIU students to either transfer or graduate,” Wallace said. “JIU and TUI have put together a dedicated team to support all JIU students during this transition period.
Competition came from startup schools as well as traditional schools who have begun to place more course offerings online. Enrollment at the school decreased by 55% between 2011 and 2014.
There are currently 2,000 students enrolled at Jones International University, the majority of which are working toward business or education degrees. The school employs 115 people full time, along with an additional 90 adjunct members.
The school built a partnership with Trident University International, an online school out of Cypress, California, which offers a number of the same courses as Jones. Jones is looking into partnering with other online schools that could offer education tracks they don’t offer.
Trident offers a similar approach to student well-being and courses. In addition, it is more affordable, offering graduate courses for $475 per credit compared to $800 per credit at Jones. Undergraduate credits come at a price of $350 at Trident compared to $530 at Jones.
Founded by cable pioneer Glenn R. Jones, the school originally opened online in 1993 as Jones University, becoming the first accredited online university in 1999 by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Jones was responsible for the creation of the cable television network Mind Extension University in 1987. The network offered 30,000 students the ability to take courses from over 30 colleges and universities through the television.
Trident has plans to rename its business school the Glenn R. Jones College of Business Administration.
“It was important to Glenn that there be a mission to democratize education and create educational opportunities for students all around the world,” Wallace said. “Looking back, we’re happy to have achieved that mission and see what we’ve accomplished in 22 years.”