Online Course Sharing Consortium
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About the Consortium

​The CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium provides access to technology that facilitates online course sharing among CIC members that have similar curricular goals and concerns for academic quality as well as a commitment to the liberal arts. The Consortium helps colleges address immediate course availability issues; improve revenue, retention, and completion; and streamline payments and reporting. Academic leaders can quickly implement strategies to improve student retention and graduation rates while maintaining complete control of their own curriculum, and administrators can digitally transfer credits and financial aid. Through an arrangement with College Consortium, a technology company that developed a platform for cross-registrations, CIC members that participate can access additional, flexible course options to support students’ timely academic progress.

Request additional information about the Consortium. A member of the College Consortium staff will contact you to discuss your institution’s needs in more detail. If you have questions for CIC staff, please contact CIC Senior Advisor Norval Kneten at nkneten@cic.nche.edu or CIC Vice President Carol Schuler at cschuler@cic.nche.edu.

Institutional Strategies

​The CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium can help institutions advance several institutional strategies, key among them the creation of summer and short semester options for students who need specific courses to stay on track to graduate, including at-risk students as well as those who seek to accelerate their academic progress. Other groups of institutions have found that online course sharing provides a means for supplementing majors when campuses cannot fully sustain under-enrolled programs.

Benefits of Membership

Institutions can participate in the Consortium as Home Institutions, as Teaching Institutions, or as both Home and Teaching Institutions. Revenue sharing between the Teaching and Home Institutions benefits both financially. Course development and faculty approval processes mirror typical course adoption practices on campus to ensure that shared courses meet institutional standards.


​For Home Institutions

The Home Institution selects the online courses offered through the CIC Consortium that advisors can offer to students, and it provides verification, approval, and oversight of credits. Students enroll and pay tuition through their Home Institution and qualify for pre-approved course credit and financial aid, just as they do for on-campus courses. A portion of the Home Institution tuition is transferred by College Consortium’s technology directly to the Teaching Institution, resulting in shared revenue for the course. The process is far less cumbersome than traditional options for supplementing degree pathways, where students assume the burden of choosing appropriate courses and seeking the transfer of credits.

For Teaching Institutions

Teaching Institutions within the CIC Consortium are colleges with online teaching capacity that offer empty “seats” online to Home Institutions. Teaching Institutions determine which courses to make available to other members of the CIC Consortium as well as the course content, stated learning outcomes, and other measures of course effectiveness. Like Home Institutions, they can improve revenue by filling under-enrolled sections of critical courses through fee-based cross enrollments within the Consortium, which provides technology that transfers a portion of the Home Institution’s tuition to the Teaching Institution.

More Options for Students

On-Time College Completion

Change of Major, Adding a Minor or Specialization
Students frequently need courses that are not available within a current semester. Whatever the issue, this lack of availability prevents on-time graduation. This, in turn, negatively affects the institution’s graduation rate.

Action Steps:
  • Create a “backup curriculum” of Teaching Institution courses that includes courses that are pre-approved by the Home Institution
  • Offer courses from Teaching Institutions only when equivalent courses are unavailable at the Home Institution
  • List backup courses on a student portal defined by the Home Institution for students to explore
  • Monitor student progress for graduation

Course Oversights and Enrollment Mistakes
On occasion, students learn just prior to graduation that they have not met all requirements. This is usually due to inadvertent oversights by the student or by the institution. The unexpected cancellation of an anticipated graduation can be traumatic for the student.

Action Steps:
  • Select Teaching Institution courses with schedules that will fit the immediate needs of students

Walking at Graduation
Students often are approved to “walk” at graduation without completing requirements. More frequently than we would wish, students do not later complete their requirements. Sometimes, their graduation memory persuades them that they have actually graduated. Recognizing that they don’t have a degree when a transcript is ordered can be devastating.

Action Steps:
  • Create a plan for immediately fulfilling graduation requirements
  • Meet the requirements through Teaching Institution courses
  • Monitor completion of course requirements

Options for Non-Traditional Students
Institutions may have a limited number of courses available for nontraditional students. Steady progress and completion of degree requirements can be difficult.

Action Steps:
  • Create pathways to completion through Teaching Institution courses
  • Monitor completion of course requirements


Program Changes

Supporting Specialized Academic Programs
Some academic programs require faculty members with specialized credentials. Retirements and position changes can leave holes in the curriculum. Replacing such faculty members or hiring suitable adjuncts can be problematic. Canceling these programs may be inadvisable.

Action Steps:
  • Fill gaps in specialized academic programs through Teaching Institution courses
  • Review Teaching Institution courses to quickly reveal opportunities
  • Negotiate with Teaching Institutions to add needed courses

New Concentrations and Specialized Minors
Prospective students often are looking for specific combinations of programs. These students may not consider your institution if you lack the programs they want. Adding and supporting additional programs can be cost prohibitive.

Action Steps:
  • Select Teaching Institution courses to fill the gaps in concentrations and specialized minors
  • Test student interest in additional concentrations and specialized minors with Teaching Institution courses before dedicating additional resources
  • Review Teaching Institution courses to reveal opportunities

Testing New Program Areas
Adding new programs can be expensive, and the consequences of launching the wrong programs can be severe. New programs often require “biting the bullet” on small courses until program enrollment increases.

Action Steps:
  • Test student interest in possible new programs through Teaching Institution courses before dedicating additional resources
  • Scaffold up new programs through Teaching Institution courses to avoid offering under-enrolled courses
  • Review Teaching Institution courses to quickly reveal opportunities


Graduate Admissions

Satisfying Prerequisites
Graduate programs typically have specific prerequisites required for admission. These can impede admission to the graduate program, which, in turn, can impede the success of the graduate program itself.

Action Steps:
  • Identify courses at Teaching Institutions that can satisfy the prerequisite
  • Require enrollment in these prerequisites as part of the program


​Retention Solutions

Retaining Students Who Earn Low Grades or Withdraw
On average, three good grades are required to offset a bad grade. Poor grades need to be offset or, preferably, replaced as soon as possible. Consortial relationships allow poor grades to be replaced on a student’s transcript when the student successfully completes a similar course offered by a Teaching Institution.

Action Steps:
  • Identify your institution’s highest D/F/W courses
  • Identify the most compatible Teaching Institutions offering those courses and assist the student to enroll
  • Monitor student academic performance over the semester through robust mid-term grade reports and their equivalents
  • Connect at-risk students with appropriate Teaching Institutions’ courses
  • Select Teaching Institution courses that begin mid- or late-semester, or in between semesters (for example, winter term)
  • Monitor the progress of students enrolled in courses through the CIC Consortium

Maintaining Academic Eligibility for Athletes
Athletes frequently take smaller loads to accommodate their practice schedules. Poor performance in a single course can lead some to drop a course, which can reduce hours below full-time status and impact athletic eligibility. A student’s athletic scholarship also may be affected.

Action Steps:
  • Engage coaches actively in monitoring student athletes’ academic performance
  • Monitor mid-term grade reports and other equivalents
  • Identify courses needed to support student athletes’ eligibility
  • Locate those courses within Teaching Institutions’ course inventory
  • Enroll at-risk students in appropriate online courses

Pre-Probation and Pre-Dismissal Strategies
Students who are placed on probation or dismissed for poor academic performance typically do not succeed at completing a pathway back to the institution. Institutional retention and revenue also are negatively affected.

Action Steps:
  • Proactively identify appropriate winter or summer term courses offered by Teaching Institutions that, if completed successfully, would allow students to move off probation or re-enter in the following term
  • Actively encourage probationary and dismissed students to enroll in these courses
  • Create follow-up methods with these students

Post-Dismissal Return Pathways
Students dismissed by the institution rarely return.

Action Steps:
  • Encourage dismissed students to enroll in selected courses offered by Teaching Institutions in the Consortium
  • Define a path back to the Home Institution based on course performance

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why would my institution want its students to take online courses offered by another institution?
When a student is out-of-sequence in pursuit of his or her degree and the Home Institution is not offering the required course in the upcoming semester, the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium provides an option that will keep the student on track toward timely graduation. Consortium courses:

  • Avoid the expense of the Home Institution offering an independent study;
  • May be offered by other institutions on schedules that may be more convenient for the student;
  • Always require advance approval by the Home Institution of the student’s enrollment;
  • Share revenue between the Home and Teaching Institutions;
  • Are offered by other CIC institutions that share basic values such as commitment to undergraduate education that is mainly experienced live in an interactive classroom;
  • Include accreditators’ required information on syllabi and faculty credentials that are used to evaluate quality and effectiveness; and
  • Avoid the complicated procedures that usually are necessary to approve credit for transfer courses.


Why is a “Consortium” important?
Consortium membership offers many benefits:

  • Students can apply their financial aid to the online consortium course;
  • Students can sometimes use the online course to substitute for another in which they performed poorly;
  • Students can count the online course as part of a full-time load; and
  • A student’s course and grade automatically are recorded on the student’s Home Institution transcript.


What experience does College Consortium bring to the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium?
College Consortium’s methodology and technology have already been used successfully by several state consortia of colleges including North Carolina (NCICU) and Texas (ICUT), as well as by a few affinity-based consortia. To date, College Consortium has contributed to more than 1,000 course-sharing enrollments.

What outcomes has College Consortium measured?
In College Consortium’s first year of operation, outcomes included:

  • Improved graduation rates of 3–5 percent at pilot Texas institutions;
  • Improved first-year retention of 3 percent at a pilot Illinois institution;
  • More than 100 athletes were able to play their spring sport by enrolling in a winter term course that was available at their Home Institution only in the spring;
  • More than 300 students recovered lost ground academically last summer without enrolling for a course over which their Home Institution had no approval;
  • Over 75 students enrolled in a back-up course to replace a D/F/W;
  • Ten students on probation returned to their institutions; and
  • More than $2 million in revenue for Consortium member institutions was generated.


How much does this cost?
There are no hidden costs for CIC members.

  • A Home Institution will pay to College Consortium an annual Platform Access Fee of $1,000. To understand how quickly this expense will be recouped, the Home Institution should confer with College Consortium.
  • A Teaching Institution will pay to College Consortium an annual Platform Access Fee of $1,000 plus an additional $2,000 annual Platform Teaching Fee for College Consortium’s maintenance of coursework materials and interconnections on its platform. Recouping of this fee will be achieved quickly as well.
  • The Home Institution charges its normal tuition directly to the participating student. It then transfers through the College Consortium platform the portion of tuition that the Teaching Institution charges the Home Institution for the course. Because the new enrollment represents use of an empty “seat,” the Teaching Institution can charge less than the full tuition charge and the Home Institution can retain the difference. The Teaching Institution receives 75 percent of the tuition it charges and College Consortium receives 25 percent. CIC receives modest revenue from College Consortium that helps fund member programs and services.
  • All payments are automatically transferred through the College Consortium technology platform and do not require additional institutional billing.