For-Profit Colleges and Universities: America’s Least Costly and Most Efficient System of Higher Education

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For-profit colleges are the best, says this study by a center created by a for-profit college.

With the practices of many for-profits coming under fire in recent months from Congress, the Department of Education and the news media, the report says those attacks threaten “to destroy what the data suggest is the most active, efficient, and efficacious part of that sector of American higher education dedicated to teaching.”

The Nexus Research and Policy Center was created by the for-profit University of Phoenix, which said it was launching the center in 2008 “to drive continued significant and innovative research initiatives in teaching and learning among adult students in higher education.”

But this, the first report from the center, is not so much a study as a piece of advocacy from an industry that feels misunderstood and unfairly attacked. The report cites “resentment against for-profits” for such reasons as “the belief that it is unethical/unjust for for-profit institutions to make a profit while public institutions are starved for funds.”

Among the report’s conclusions: For-profits cost less for taxpayers than do public colleges, government support for higher education is skewed toward affluent students who attend elite universities, and “meeting President Obama’s goal of having the largest percentage of college graduates in the world by 2020 is not possible without the for-profit colleges and universities.”

The report criticizes regulations recently proposed by the U.S. Department of Education to tighten controls on for-profits.

The report was released with the phrase “Least Cost and Most Efficient System” in its title, prompting Youth Today to ask Nexus President Jorge Klor de Alva if the title should read “Least Costly” in order to be grammatically correct.  He initially wrote back that “it should be ‘Costly’ but for phonetic reasons we chose the title it has.” He later wrote, “We have decided to change the ‘cost’ to ‘costly.’ ”

Free; 74 pages.