New Online Course Sharing Consortium Helps Campuses Improve Retention and Graduation Rates

brochure coverCIC’s new Online Course Sharing Consortium, launched in October, is designed to help member colleges and universities address immediate course availability issues; increase student retention and completion rates; streamline payments and reporting processes; and improve revenue. And it does so by requiring a minimal institutional financial and technological investment.

“The new national consortium will facilitate the sharing of online courses among CIC members that have similar curricular goals and concerns for academic quality as well as a commitment to the liberal arts,” said Richard Ekman, president of CIC. “Participating CIC members can share courses to improve student retention and graduation rates and streamline payments and reporting, while maintaining complete control of the curriculum.”

CIC’s Online Course Sharing Consortium has become possible through an arrangement between CIC and College Consortium, a Texas-based technology company that developed a platform for cross-registrations. College Consortium’s methodology and technology have been successfully piloted by several state consortia of colleges including CIC State Councils North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, and Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities, as well as some affinity-based consortia.

CIC member institutions participating in the Online Course Sharing Consortium can access additional, flexible course options to support students’ timely academic progress. Institutions are able to offer their students these courses while maintaining complete control of their own curriculum, digitally transferring credits and financial aid, and retaining some of the tuition income. 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.

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 and student athletes, as well as those who seek to accelerate their academic progress. For some institutions, online course sharing also provides a means for supplementing majors when campuses cannot fully sustain under-enrolled programs.

A session during CIC’s 2018 Institute for Chief Academic Officers with Chief Financial and Chief Enrollment Management Officers, held in November, examined ways that some colleges have successfully piloted the technology to improve graduation rates. Diana Comuzzie, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Schreiner University (TX), Ann Fulop, provost and dean of the college at Eureka College (IL), and Allen Henderson, provost and senior vice president at Texas Wesleyan University, shared their experiences alongside Robert Manzer, co-founder and chief academic officer at College Consortium. Fulop noted that the course sharing platform supported the culture at Eureka College as well as strategic goals.

“We have small classes and tight student-faculty relationships,” said Fulop. “That’s very important to a Eureka College experience.” Fulop noted that faculty members welcomed online course sharing as a means to reduce the need to re-teach D/F/W-grade students on campus in the summer, and she added that students were successful when the advising was specific about what courses to take and what grades were needed to progress. Of the 49 students who enrolled at Eureka in shared online courses, three graduated, 45 returned to campus to continue their studies, and only one left the campus, which was due to medical circumstances.

“Two are on track to make the Dean’s List,” added Fulop. “There is something about giving them that extra option that really worked for them. I have a 94 percent success rate. This is by far the most successful strategy [for helping at-risk students] we have found.”

Norval Kneten, retired president of Barton College (NC), serves as CIC’s senior advisor for the Online Course Sharing Consortium. Additional information, including on how to join and examples of when online course sharing can be particularly effective, can be found on the Consortium website. Institutions interested in learning more should contact Kneten at or Carol Schuler, CIC vice president, at