Press releases intrigue me; particularly press releases from public companies. Assuming the public company’s public relations team is required to have a review for compliance with multiple Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations, a press release can often seem watered down.
I’m still trying to figure out whether or not yesterday’s edX press release about its “collaboration” with Emeritus is one of those that was watered down or much ado about nothing. edX, founded by MIT and Harvard and recently purchased by 2U, claims to have partnerships with more than 160 member universities. Emeritus’s website claims to have partnerships with “more than 50” universities although there are pictures of approximately 40. I also noted that Emeritus is a subsidiary of Eruditus, a company specializing in Executive Education partnerships with major universities. Many of the Eruditus partners appear to be the same as Emeritus’s. Notably, the executive team of both companies appear to be the same people. edX’s website claims that it has 3,000+ courses. The press release indicates that it has more than 4,000 courses and offerings.
Emeritus’ website indicates that it “has educated more than 250,000 individuals across 80 countries. “I couldn’t find how many courses they offer, but most appear to be courses developed by the Executive Education departments of their university partners. edX claims that it has educated “42 million users with 1.4 million course certificates issued.”
I reread the press release. “edX will offer portions of Emeritus’ catalog of programs to millions of edX learners in specific regions outside the U.S. and Europe, beginning with India.” So, edX will expand its catalog of offerings to students in India. The release states that “India is edX’s second largest market in terms of registered learners, after the U.S.”
India will soon surpass China as the country with the world’s largest population. The release states that “only 8 million students in India are admitted into college each year – far short of the Indian government’s aggressive goal of admitting 25 million students each year by 2030.” The release goes on to state that India is “likely to face a shortage of 1.4-1.9 million technology professionals by 2026.
It appears that Emeritus will act as a local partner for edX in India, and perhaps China based on the profiles of the leadership team at Emeritus. A key phrase in the press release, “supporting the delivery of geographically priced online programs beginning next year” indicates to me that the existing tuition and fees for edX’s courses and programs may not be priced low enough for the Indian market. It’s been a couple of years since I investigated pricing for the college market in India, but I believe it was no more than $2,000 per year for an undergraduate program. Most of the programs in the Emeritus catalog are short term certificates and not degrees. The revenues per certificate as priced for the Indian market may be very low.
Sometimes, press releases are devoid of business arrangements between the parties because of a confidentiality clause. Sometimes, it’s because the attorneys reviewing the release don’t want to imply that the partnership will increase the company’s revenues or profits by any amount that cannot be substantiated. In any case, it’s unlikely that Emeritus would market the edX catalog in India without being compensated. Notably, there is not a press release about the edX “collaboration” on the Emeritus or Eruditus websites as of the writing of this article (1:30pm EST on November 16, 2022).
Will the edX and Emeritus collaboration bear fruit? As announced, the catalog won’t launch until 2023. It’s too soon to tell. I am curious to see if the Emeritus team can add enough Indian learners and enrollments to the edX courses to make up for the “geographically priced online programs.” While most of the courses and programs are asynchronous and would easily allow for economic benefits of additional learners at little incremental costs, my guess is at least one of these entities is expecting a large enough increase in enrollments from India and other Asian countries to offset the lower pricing. Platform marketing is tricky, even more so when it involves a regulated industry like education. I’ll be interested in seeing how this collaboration works for edX and 2U.