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2U’s 2021 Transparency Report: Leveraging the Power of Data to Meet Learners’ Needs

Written by Christopher "Chip" Paucek on Dec 20, 2022

Related content: Higher Education, Digital Education, Impact and Outcomes

Among all the lessons learned across higher education in 2021, one particular message rang out loud and clear: Transparent outcomes data remain one of society’s best tools for evaluating how we are meeting learners’ needs with high-quality online education experiences—now and in the future.

Today, 2U publishes our 2021 Transparency Report, demonstrating our continued dedication to greater openness about our partnerships, the education programs we deliver together, and the strong learner outcomes we produce as a result. This report is our third year of setting the standard for publicly sharing metrics, which has since compelled many others in higher education and edtech to follow.

As the pandemic maintained its grip into 2021, a meaningful shift continued to take place in the world’s perception of digital education. More people chose high-quality online learning as a viable and valuable way to acquire new skills, ignite their careers, and reach their goals. Meanwhile, institutions that embraced the power of data to adapt and advance their online offerings attracted more enrollments and earned learners’ trust. Utilizing cutting-edge analytics, 2U helped our world-class partners do just that.

In publishing our 2021 Transparency Report—following last year’s 2020 report and our inaugural 2019 report—by now it should be clear: 2U is all in on leveraging transparent outcomes data for the benefit of learners, institutions, educators, and employers.

We use this data to underpin the innovative educational experiences that we deliver to learners in order to ensure successful outcomes. We also use it to continuously assess, learn from, and improve the education we deliver. Openly sharing facts, figures, and feedback reflects our commitment to making the entire higher education community stronger.

Once again, our Transparency Report focuses on six pillars: University Oversight and Accountability, Marketplace Openness, Access, Affordability, Quality, and Outcomes. Here is a handful of notable data points that begin to shed light on 2U’s full impact in 2021:

  • The percentage of degree programs in our portfolio priced at or below their compatible campus-based programs increased from over 80% in 2020 to over 87% in 2021.
  • Thousands of learners—aspiring nurses, counselors, and teachers—completed over 8.5 million hours of virtual and in-person field placements across all 50 states in 2021, bringing total clinical hours to over 26.5 million.
  • For non-degree programs, the percentage of learners under age 26 increased. For boot camps, that percentage jumped from 14.5% in 2020 to 21.3% in 2021. For executive education, that percentage nearly doubled, from 5% in 2020 to 9.6% in 2021.
  • The Net Promoter Score (NPS) for learner satisfaction in boot camps increased from an already excellent 51 in 2020 to 54 in 2021.
  • Through 2U’s Career Engagement Network, learners were referred to employers over 39,000 times for open job positions in 2021.
  • In the 2021 Gallup-2U Boot Camp Graduates Study, over 86% of survey respondents reported achieving a positive outcome. The median salary increase reported by survey respondents one year after graduation was $11,000.

Of course, being a champion for transparency also means being forthcoming when we pivot. When data tracks in the wrong direction, we change course and learn for the future. For example, in late 2020 we leveraged a “blended” approach when moving boot camps online in response to the pandemic—trading synchronous instruction for more asynchronous learning. When the aggregate graduation rate for all boot camp disciplines decreased by 1% in 2021, the data showed how critical live instruction is to learner success. In response, we shifted all boot camps to a “live online” model with 180 to 250 hours of live instruction.

By the end of 2021, we also finalized our union with edX, exponentially expanding the number of learners we reach and transforming our impact on an even greater scale. In joining forces, we have an opportunity to double down on our vision for more transparency and research, benefiting more learners in the years to come. And we’re better positioned to help our partners drive down the cost of education through disruptively priced offerings that meet learners’ demands for more affordable and accessible pathways to rigorous, high-quality education.

Next year, we will issue a reimagined edX Impact Report that will cover the outcomes of our combined business. We look forward to sharing how far we’ve come in unlocking human potential, together.

Learn more about us.

At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help partners thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.