University of Maryland University College got the go-ahead on Thursday to pursue changes to its business model after a committee of the Board of Regents voted unanimously to advance the matter to the full board.
The committee vote is a relatively mundane piece of a long process that began over the summer — when UMUC first announced it was reexamining its operations — and will likely continue for at least a few more months.
UMUC, which is part of the University System of Maryland, offers primarily online education for nontraditional students. But competition in the online education space has grown fiercer as for-profit schools flood the market and other universities launch more online classes.
In response, UMUC initiated a comprehensive review of its mission and place in the market. With help from outside advisers and internal stakeholders, UMUC evaluated several possible options for restructuring its business model.
Ultimately, the school decided to remain a nonprofit institution that’s part of the USM but has more autonomy, by seeking certain exemptions from state rules governing human resources/personnel issues, procurement procedures and policies regarding protections for proprietary and competitive information.
To implement those changes, UMUC needs approval from the Board of Regents, and in some cases, the Maryland General Assembly.
The Board of Regents Finance committee approved the overall concept of the new business model on Thursday. UMUC President Javier Miyares and USM Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan will now hash out more details and present an even more comprehensive proposal to the full Board.
“We’re happy we made it through this particular part of the process,” said UMUC spokesman Bob Ludwig. “I heard nothing but support [from committee members]. They were obviously interested in what the details will be, but that’s the next part of the process.”