Subscription Universities

Apr 22, 2022 by

And the Future of Higher Education

A new model of higher education has been proposed to make the university experience much more like a Netflix plan where students could either binge or take a break and then do it all over again. According to Selingo, Clark, and Noone (2018), under the model, students would take dual-enrollment or early college courses while still in the K–12 system, then they could dip in and out of the curriculum throughout their lives. This would reduce the upfront tuition cost, create lifelong learners, and help universities remain solvent through an annual subscription. Selingo, Clark, and Noone (2018) also assert that the model would shift the accessibility of education for individuals as they progress through their careers and require new skills to perform their work. The move would enable public universities to make strategic and budgetary planning more easily.

Young (2022) explains that Maryville University in St. Louis is revamping its curriculum and business model to embrace the concept of subscription education. The college’s president elaborates on exactly how that will look like the university pivots away from a traditional tuition model. Savoca (2019) argues the point from a financial, accessibility, and practical perspective. Schroeder (2020) uses the metaphor of leasing a car or renting a home instead of buying in full to describe the trend. Professional services companies and LinkedIn Learning are already using the subscription model to offer courses for professional development or a career change. Textbook providers have also gotten on board with a subscription or renting model.

Students now matriculate in a cohort, whereas a subscription-based instructional model would focus more on self-paced education, which may bring more students to higher education. Another question is whether the university would have to outsource its on-demand courses to a third-party vendor.


Will a subscription university level the playing field for students or cause more issues? How would faculty respond to a subscription-based instructional model?


Higher education, subscription, tuition


Savoca, K. (2019). What if universities offered subscriptions? Medium. Retrieved from

Selingo, J.J., Clark, C. and Noone, D. (2018). The future(s) of public higher education. Deloitte Center for Higher Education Excellence. Retrieved from

Schroeder, R. (2020). Subscription rather than tuition. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

Young, J.R. (2022). Why one university is moving toward a subscription model. EdSurge. Retrieved from

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