Will head-to-head competition among degree programs lead to greater quality or less? States are pursuing several policies that increase market competition, such as funding distance education and virtual universities. Planning professionals need to understand what factors mediate whether competition does, in fact, occur, such as the market size, product similarity, the role of profitability, and various student and provider behaviors (e.g., faculty attitudes and institutional leadership). Although no single (or simple) answer is possible, planners should have several ways to assess whether new competition will improve or harm their program’s quality.
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