OPM Market Landscape and Dynamics: Summer 2022 updates

This year has shown the increasing dangers of the Online Program Management (OPM) market, based on financial market pressures and increasingly likely regulatory activity. While I expect some concrete changes in the next four months (leading to a Fall 2022 update), I think it is worth updating the OPM graphics this summer based on the ongoing turmoil. Today I’m sharing an update on the graphics with a brief explanation, but I’ll follow up with additional posts over the next month or two.

Minor Changes – OPM Market Landscape

With the major OPM market changes since the Fall 2021 post have been in market dynamics, the actual landscape of vendors and categories has not changed in significant ways. I am re-sharing the Fall landscape graphic that shifted focus to emphasize the different categories of OPM providers, as new and changing business models offer the biggest changes in the OPM market. Traditional full-service OPM providers have been joined by for-profit conversions, and MOOC providers, etc.

The changes to the landscape graphic:

  • Higher Ed Partners and Skilled Education, two mostly European players, have been added to the Smaller Customer Base column;

  • Hubble Studios has been added to the Fee For Service column; and

  • EdAssist has been added to the Workforce Education column, even though its business model is different than the others in the category.

As always, please note that this view is intended to give a visual overview of the market landscape and is not mean to be comprehensive in terms of vendors represented. This is particularly true in the smaller customer base and fee for service categories.

OPM market landscape Summer 2022 edition, listing major vendors and categories

Bigger Changes – OPM Market Dynamics

The bigger changes in the market come from the dynamics involved, and the updated graphic attempts to capture the chaotic nature of the OPM market. To be more specific, the following graphic is meant to counter the golly gee, the OPM market is rich, well-funded, and growing like crazy coverage, or the flip side of these companies are all getting rich pulling profits out of the schools coverage that we see in EdTech and the national media. Those angles miss much of what’s happening inside the market, and therefore can misdirect people who are trying to understand the future prospects of specific vendors and market options.

The primary changes since the Fall 2021 version:

  • Several background events have been removed to make the graphic more readable;

  • The pandemic funding vehicle and barrier have been removed, as I do not see the funding as a primary driver of the market any longer;

  • The active resistance label has been changed to be focused on federal governmentactivists and allies, as we are seeing growing movements within several areas aiming to change or remove OPM tuition revenue sharing as an option;

  • Zovio’s prospects are questionable; and

  • 2U’s story is becoming a lot messier with the dramatic drop in stock market valuation, the clear target on its back from regulators and activists (and the WSJ), and with Byju’s hovering to take over the company.

The picture one gets is of a chaotic market that is not for the faint of heart, and one that will likely see further consolidations and category changes. All of this in a Mad Max-style pursuit of college online course and program revenue (whether rev share or fee-for-service or a blend, and whether degree- or certificate-based).

OPM market dynamics summer 2022, showing the Mad Max world of this dangerous but lucrative market.

Future Coverage

Given the changes within the OPM market, there are many details not captured in these views. Stay tuned for continuing coverage of the growing and morphing market. In particular, I plan to look at the recent Wall Street Journal article, “That Fancy University Course? It Might Actually Come From an Education Company.”

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