Here is a bit of good news. Enrollment is declining at for-profit colleges and growing at non-profit colleges.
The University of Phoenix is closing 115 of its campuses, as enrollments dropped as did its stock price.
Could it be an outbreak of common sense?
Time will tell.
“Could it be an outbreak of common sense?”
Unfortunately, not, their target audience is drying up; already existing professionals who want a quick degree to improve their salary, job prospects, or prestige but do not have the academic skills to succeed in a real education. Too, the traditional higher education institutions who want to keep their monopoly on higher education (especially the privates) are well-connected to pressure scrutiny on financial aid. Of course, financial aid for higher education is increasingly becoming more scarce or highly expensive in the long term for those who have to turn to student loans.
In this society, those who can pay can afford a post-secondary education. That number is beginning to dwindle for everyone and the loopholes are beginning to dry up for those who think they can circumvent an actual education by buying a bogus one.
The only way out for the bogus educators like the onlines is if succeeding political administrations find ways to shore up these companies through manipulating education funding and supporting privatization incentives (e.g., higher education “standards” that can be quantified and then sold as products). I know that the onlines are doing exactly that by privately lobbying in Washington and in states for just those kinds of supports and incentives. The “big fish” like Phoenix may or may not survive, but the other onlines may truly benefit, especially if they can acquire sufficient land-based institutions ripe for sale or sweetheart deals with land-based partners.
The Obama administration has so far been unclear at best on these issues, but his henchmen, like Duncan, are driving forward on privatization thereby setting the stage for just this kind of initiative. On that basis alone, it should be patently clear at least to teacher educators that a campaign of supporting the “lesser evil” is fool’s errand. If there was ever a time for educators as a whole to organize and unite behind organized independent political action against whichever administration is in power, it is now.
It might be that these schools offer an inferior product and they are losing out to better schools.
That would be reasonable to say except for the problem that the reason onlines (and their predecessors, correspondence diploma programs) happened in the first place was to fill a market for “product” accessible to people who otherwise couldn’t obtain degrees either because of time, ability, or both. The primary source of income and major influx of profit for the onlines is the ability to find warm bodies (sometimes literally) who can qualify (not necessarily afford) student loans, mostly underwritten by the federal government. These loans are immediately taken out and used to pay tuition (and to textbook publishers) so that federal dollars become private profit in very short order and the people held accountable for all this owed money are individuals, banks, and ultimately the federal government. In short, online for-profit institutions use people–mostly with little college-level ability or willingness to engage in needed educational study–to funnel federal tax dollars into private coffers. Nice work if you can get it or are willing to do it to the detriment of academic engagement. Most “faculty” who teach in onlines are professional adjuncts holding multiple such appointments from multiple schools or retired or current university professors who are moonlighting for extra work. In neither case are these individuals disposed to or even paid to provide more than a minimal level of instructional monitoring of often proprietary curriculum held by the company that oversees the institution (usually one that was bought by a company for sometimes literally its name). Wages are minimal–often one degree below the level of education sought (e.g., a masters degree course will be paid at low bachelors level adjunct pay)–thus, instructors have no real incentive to provide much high level instruction unless the instructor has her/his own motivation to do so out of professional pride; a great business plan, but hardly an academically sound approach.
So the decline in enrollment should just be viewed as a random event. The coin landed heads, not tails.
The same thing will happen with many charters. They will come in and extract everything of value. When there is nothing else to steal they will close up operations and leave the public to clean up the mess.Probably they will set up shop in a different location to continue their plunder. The vultures will continue to circle looking for another meal.
[...] What Happens When The Investors Don’t See Enough Bang For Their Buck? Well they shut the schools and colleges down. Out go the kids. Because, lets face it, it’s about $$$$ and if it’s not bringing enough moolah in, then they close shop. Nice eh? Source [...]
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