Four of the top ten online colleges in the world were not “born in the USA” according to Dr. Fred DiUlus’ latest 2010 edition of the Best Worst Online Degree Programs.

For the past eight years, DiUlus has annually compiled the stats and rated online education based providers on a five-point ratings model. Global Academy Online provides the results free to the public. Free of advertisers or Web sponsors, DiUlus gives up the ratings with what he says are “no strings attached”.

The top ten online universities include:
(1) The University of London;
(2) The University of South Africa;
(3) The University of Southern Queensland (Australia);
(4) The University of Phoenix (Arizona);
(5) Jones International University (Colorado);
(6) Griffith University (Australia);
(7) University of Liverpool (UK);
(8) Golden Gate University (California);
(9) Ellis College of NYIT (New York);
and (10) University of Maryland University College.

Ellis College and the University of Maryland are two schools returning to the top ten after an absence of three years while Griffith University in Australia is making the list for the first time along with the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

Both newly added and returning top ten American schools are longtime advocates of online learning and global leaders in online education according to DiUlus.

The University of London remains the perennial top distance and online university provider in the world. This university dates from the 1830’s and is among the earliest of schools with its many colleges to provide online learning throughout the British Commonwealth of nations.

DiUlus goes on to point out that all the schools in the top ten have exceptional programs. Internationally, he says, the University of London has more living and deceased alumni than perhaps all of the others in the group combined due to its almost 200 years of existence and exceptional international reach.

As for the number one online university in North America, the University of Phoenix, DiUlus says it just pulls away from the pack. “Phoenix is blessed and cursed by its very size and aggressive recruiting posture.” The University of Phoenix is the largest university in North America and DiUlus points out it consists of more living alumni holding positions in high places within the last 20 years than perhaps any other comparable university in America. He is quick to suggest however that it also has more students that struggle than any other online contemporary university because of its open enrollment policy’s highly successful marketing attracting marginal students.

“This is the quintessential trap for entrepreneurial schools in higher ed.” DiUlus cautions that if a student is looking for a feel good, nanny type school like the local college down the street, he says, Phoenix and most of the other heavily concentrated online schools in the world are definitely not for them.

Jones University moved into the #2 American school position because it is what DiUlus calls a “no-nonsense fast riser”. He says Jones has a steadfast concentration on excelling in Business and Education programs. Because of it, he goes on, “They attract high-end professionals that include students who want to attend and faculty who want to teach at Jones.”
Most all the newly rated online degree providers have only offered complete online degree programs for less than five years. DiUlus offers that he sees many of these new-entrants in online education as primarily traditional brick and mortar institutions that have “seen the light”.

Many he points out have rushed to put programs in place and suffer as a result from severe inadequacies. Their online faculty for example, he says, may have been recruited from traditional faculty reluctant to teach online or worse they pepper their ranks with unproven new hires that have never taught either online or in a traditional classroom. The quality, experience and support of the faculty, he offers, determines what they really think about online education.

The lack of full time traditional teaching experience is one point DiUlus suggests causes many in traditional higher education to regard online teaching with suspicion. Many, he says, just think of online education as inferior.

According to his firms research and the latest polls students who have experienced both methods prefer online learning to the classroom three to one. Statistically, DiUlus says research also shows most of the really eager and willing online teachers come from the part-time adjunct ranks.

“Online instructors today can stack teaching positions one on top of the other without fear and their motivation may not always be in the best interest of the students or schools but driven purely by economic conditions. The time is coming, he says when “stacking” is severely restricted. This he says contributes to a reputation of never being held much in high regard by regular tenured faculty who refuse to teach online.

DiUlus predicts that in ten years the roles will be reversed with the most competent faculty being highly skilled online educators as well as being exceptional in a lecture hall.

“Online faculty will be teaching hundreds, even thousands, through an advanced technology that will put them literally on the desk of every student, one to one.” DiUlus’ five-point ratings matrix measures only those institutions he feels are credible. If an institution is not in his ratings book, he says it is either too new in the field to be rated, under active consideration, or at worst, too poor an online provider to be mentioned.

The e-book is available free from Global Academy Online, a Washington DC based university builder.