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Interchange – Pred Ed: For-Profit Colleges and Universities


Today’s show is about for-profit colleges and universities–or the Predatory Education Business. If you’re surprised to hear predatory and for-profit used interchangeably to describe this industry, you won’t be at the end of the show.

Two things must spring to mind when one says “for profit” education: University of Phoenix and Trump University. The first graduates only 5% of their enrolled student body according to the 2012 US Senate Report on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; the second recently settled a $25 million dollar lawsuit which claimed the “college” defrauded students.

And now this: As reported on April 27th in The Chronicle of Higher Education (a week after we recorded this conversation) Purdue University in Indiana will buy the for-profit Kaplan University.

Kaplan will become a “nonprofit, public-benefit corporation” that “will operate as a new Indiana public university, as authorized by the Indiana legislature, affiliated with Purdue University and focused on expanding access to education for nontraditional adult learners.”

This is an example of a trend A. J. Angulo warns against in his book–the University following the lead of the For-Profit model in finding and exploiting a “non-traditional” student market of online-learners while employing an assembly-line precariat labor force in the form of the “adjunct instructor.” But now with the imprimatur and brand of a respected Public University.

In the Purdue press release Former Obama Admin Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan is quoted:

I’ve always had great respect for Gov. Daniels, and I’m excited by this opportunity for a world-class university to expand its reach and help educate adult learners by acquiring a strong for-profit college. This is a first, and if successful, could help create a new model for what it means to be a land-grant institution.

The Land-Grant College and Online Education: What can Duncan mean? The land-grant institution was created during the Civil War “in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.” Here is a purported intention that online education will prepare the class of workers who have “lost” in the current economic reality to discover new “professions” in life. Available statistics into the actual success of those pursuing education via an online program is abysmal: 5% of University of Phoenix “edusumers” complete their degree programs (stats in HELP report of 2012); in 2010 the 2-year program of Bridgepoint Education had an 85% dropout rate.

A. J. Angulo is Professor of Education at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and author of Diploma Mills How For-Profit Colleges Stiffed Students, Taxpayers, and the American Dream (Johns Hopkins University Press) and Empire and Education (Palgrave Macmillan).

How the Financing of Colleges May Lead to Disaster! by Rana Foroohar (New York Review of Books)
Betsy DeVos’s Hiring of For-Profit College Official Raises Impartiality Issues by Patricia Cohen (New York Times)
Purdue U. Buys Mega For-Profit Kaplan U., Plans to Turn It Into a ‘Public University’ by Andy Thomason (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success–Majority Committee Staff Report and Accompanying Minority Committee Staff Views July 30, 2012

“You Don’t Learn That in School” by Nat King Cole
“Play it Cool, Stay in School” by Brenda Holloway
“Don’t Be a Drop-out” by James Brown
“Disco Tech” by Carole King
“Beauty School Dropout” by Frankie Avalon

Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Assistant Producer: Rob Schoon
Board Engineer: Jennifer Brooks
Executive Producer: Joe Crawford

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