Showing posts with label Academic Partnerships. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Academic Partnerships. Show all posts

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Colleges Are Outsourcing Their Teaching Mission to For-Profit Companies. Is That A Good Thing?

Years ago, colleges employed people to perform auxiliary services. University employees staffed the campus bookstore, ran the student union, and performed janitorial services. 

Over time, however, universities began outsourcing almost all of their auxiliary services. Barnes & Noble now runs hundreds of college bookstores. National fast-food chains operate stores in countless student unions.

Recently, however, American colleges have gone beyond outsourcing their non-instructional activities. Now, the universities are outsourcing their core mission: teaching students.  

According to the Government Accountability Office (as reported in the Wall Street Journal), 550 colleges and universities are partnering with for-profit companies to design courses, recruit students, and manage instruction.

Academic Partnerships, one of the leading for-profit outfits,  contracts with universities all over the United States to manage graduate programs--for a hefty fee, of course.  Higher Education Inquirer estimates that AP collects about half the revenue from the courses and programs they manage.

2U, another for-profit online instruction provider, has a contract for services with the University of Oregon and gets 80 percent of the tuition for 2U-managed courses. That's a good deal for 2U's stockholders.

What the hell is going on? 

As the Wall Street Journal explained, colleges are losing revenue due to declining enrollments.  They aren't raising enough money to pay all their administrators and bureaucrats. Thus, hundreds of schools are investing heavily in online academic programs--especially graduate programs--to juice their revenues. 

Respected public universities like the University of North Carolina and the University of Oregon have turned to for-profit companies to design or revamp various graduate programs, recruit students, and oversee instruction.

Why don't the professors do those things?

I don't know. Perhaps the faculty don't have the skills necessary to recruit students, manage enrollment, or design academic programs for an online format.  Or maybe doing these things is just too fuckin' hard.

I have a professor friend whose dean ordered him to design and teach an online course for a master's degree program managed by Academic Partnerships. He was told the class would be conducted online over five weeks.  

My friend was a good soldier and taught the course as directed. He had over 600 online students!  When the class was completed, my friend told the dean he would never teach an online course that way again, even if it meant being fired.

As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, students are often unaware that they are taking a course managed by a profit-driven company, not the university. 

For example, the University of Texas at Arlington has a big-time financial relationship with Academic Partnerships, which manages graduate programs in nursing, education, business, and public health. Nevertheless, UTA's promotional materials do not disclose that Academic Partnerships manages these online graduate programs.

Students all over the United States are taking out loans to pay tuition bills at public universities in the naive belief that these schools are non-profit entities dedicated solely to the public good.  

Most of these students would be surprised to learn that a profit-making company is sucking up a good share of their tuition dollars to enrich their executives and investors.

My take on this? If a public university is so goddamn lazy or incompetent that it has to pay a private company to manage its academic programs, then that university should be closed. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hillary Clinton's ties to the for-profit college industry: If she becomes President, expect the status quo

The for-profit college industry has had a good run. For years, it has sucked up about a quarter of all federal student-loan money, while only enrolling about 12 percent of the nation's students.

The for-profits have reaped big profits, and why not? Some of them spend more on recruiting than they do on instruction.  Most of their revenues (nearly 90 percent for most for-profit colleges) come from the federal student-loan program, and their docile students passively sign the  loan documents that are pushed in front of them by the for-profits' efficient student processors.

And if anyone accuses them of fraud or misrepresentation--hey, no problem. Most for-profits force their students to waive their right to sue somewhere in the enrollment documents.

For years, the for-profits have greased the wheels on their gravy train by making strategic campaign contributions to important people in Congress and by hiring Washington lobbyists to protect their interests. Everyone from Mitt Romney to Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz got a little money from the for-profits, and so adequately regulating this gang of pirates is out of the question.

Will things change if Hillary is elected President? It's very unlikely. Here are a few tidbits of information about Hillary and Bill Clinton's ties to the for-profit industry that come from a recent article by Michael Stratford.

  • Bill Clinton worked for Laureate Education, which has for profit colleges all over the world. According to Stratford's article, Bill earned $16.5 million between 2010 and 2014 working for Laureate. In fact, Bill Clinton served as honorary chancellor for Laureate International Universities  until last year, when he resigned  shortly before Hillary launched her campaign. 
  • Hillary earned $225,000 making a speech to Academic Partnerships, a for-profit company that makes big bucks partnering with public universities and turning face-to-face courses into online courses that Academic Partnership oversees. 
  • Several of Hillary Clinton's campaign-fund bundlers have worked as lobbyists for Apollo Group, the parent company of University of Phoenix. (And by the way, Barack Obama's "best friend," Martin Nesbitt, is making plans to buy Apollo Group.)
David Halperin, an investigative reporter who has done a good job reporting on the for-profit industry, praised Hillary for taking a "strong, principled stand against predatory for-profit college companies," but I am highly skeptical.

When I was growing up, I was taught that there are only two kinds of snakes: dead ones and live ones. Similarly, with perhaps a few exceptions, there are only two kinds of for-profit colleges: the ones that exploit the student-loan program to the detriment of their students, and the ones that have closed.

Former President Bill Clinton speaks to students at Laureate’s Universidad Latina in Costa Rica.


Frank Cerabino. Failed medical college was reliable source of campaign money. Palm Beach Post, November 2, 2015.

David Halperin. Top Democratic Lawyer Pushed Pentagon to End U. of Phoenix Suspension. Huffington Post, March 17, 2016.

Richard Rubin. Hillary and Bill Clinton Mad $139 Million in Eight Years., July 31, 2015.

Charles M. Smith and Dina Rasor. For-profit colleges are bankrolling Romney to keep to keep student loan money flowing., June 14, 2012.

Michael Stratford. Hillary Clinton's ties to for-profit education companies. Inside Higher Education, April 18, 2016.