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November 12, 2008, 01:44 PM ET

Universities See Double-Digit Increase in Online Enrollment, Study Finds

Online enrollment at universities nationwide increased more than 12 percent in 2007 over the previous year, and the majority of college officials agree that competition for online students is increasing, according to the 2008 Sloan Survey of Online Learning.

According to the report, which included responses from more than 2,500 colleges, approximately 3.94-million students, a little more than 20 percent of the total student population in higher education, enrolled in at least one online course in the fall of 2007. Nearly 70 percent of the institutions surveyed acknowledged that they are competing for online students.

The worsening economy was one reason given for the increase in online enrollment.

“In these tough economic times, with unemployment up and higher costs for heating and transportation, we will inevitably see the appeal of online education grow,” Frank Mayadas, program director for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, said in a news release.

The survey was conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group, the College Board, and the Sloan Consortium.—David DeBolt

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