University of Phoenix May Be Placed on Probation by Accreditor

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by GarrAarghHrumph, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    For those interested, the University of Phoenix has been told they will be recommended to be placed on probation by the Higher Learning Commission, its main accreditors. This means that the university is out of compliance on a major issue re: its accreditation - in this case, the HLC has concerns re: the uni's governance by the Apollo Group, its corporate owner. Originally, the university had been told by the HLC that it would be placed on "notice", which is less severe.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/25/university-of-phoenix-accreditation_n_2762168.html
  2. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

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    Just remove its accreditation finally. Honestly.
  3. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    From the form 8-K report:

    Beyond that, "areas of concern" (these areas did not lead to the probation, but were raised as issues in general) included retention and graduation rates, the heavy reliance of its students on federal financial aid, "assessment of student learning" and PhD faculty research activity.

    Since none of these issues are new for this uni, or for other for-profit unis, it seems the accrediting bodies are finally cracking down on the for-profit unis.
  4. taf2002

    taf2002 Well-Known Member

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    I don't have a lot of respect for an online degree. Who's to say who took the tests or wrote the papers? It's too anonymous.
  5. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    Most online degrees have some system for requiring student identity to be verified for taking exams. U of P makes students take their tests in person, with ID and fingerprinting, and yet here they are. Meanwhile, it's a piece of cake for students in giant lecture classes to send someone else in to take an exam in person. It happens a lot.

    As for papers, who is to say who wrote them even if they are handed in in person? It's easy to catch students who copy their work off the internet, but it's nearly impossible to do anything about students who have someone else write papers for them. I am not allowed to say one word to a student about plagiarism unless I have the original work in hand.
  6. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Look at Harvard. Honestly, unless you're like my old uni and one cheating offense can and usually does get you kicked out (if you go quietly, they'll call it "withdrawn", if you go to an open trial and lose, your transcript will say "expelled") there are no guarantees. And even there a couple of people a year generally get busted (though the rule also applies to lying, cheating, or stealing at ANYTHING. Even off-campus. Steal or pass a bad check in town? Violation of the honor code.) On-line might be SLIGHTLY easier, but people have been cheating and plagiarizing at regular in-person schools for years.
  7. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

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    I'm not crazy about online schools either for an entire degree. The University of Phoenix is an actually building where students can attend, I had a take a license test there once. But I think most are just diploma mills.
  8. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    One can hope.
  9. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    I know that Phoenix is the big guy in the business, so they're a highly visible target, but I hope that this increased scrutiny applies to all the for-profits. That they don't just target Phoenix. Because relatively speaking, Phoenix isn't nearly as bad as some of the other for-profits in terms of actually teaching their students, and providing real content for their courses, and actually caring about their students' educations, etc.
  10. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

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    Online degrees actually give you much more and force you to work much more than the vast majority of 'normal' universities, IMO.
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  11. PrincessLeppard

    PrincessLeppard Pink Bitch

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    That has not been my experience from those around me taking online courses.
  12. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    Can't say I've found that to be true. All my students who've studied through online programs are significantly worse off (both academically and financially) than those who attended traditional degree programs. Can't say I've heard any stories to the contrary (though I'm sure they exist).
  13. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

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    I'm kind of curious - what's the difference between a university like Phoenix and a regular university that charges obscenely high tuition? Why is one considered for-profit and the other not?

    I just had to take an online ethics exam that's required for all graduate students where I study. You were supposed to state that you would not consult any reference material while taking it, and I didn't. Whether others did the same I can't say, but certainly students who want to cheat can do so anywhere. I'm sometimes :eek: at how shameless students can be about these things.
  14. PrincessLeppard

    PrincessLeppard Pink Bitch

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    Some of the differences would be graduation rates (Phoenix has a VERY low completion rate), and also the rigor of the work. (Kaplan is not very rigorous; my mom's hospital will no longer accept nursing precepts from them because they are TERRIBLE and lack some of the most basic skills.)
  15. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    There is tremendous variation in online programs.

    I will say that my experience with them has been that there is a lot more work to do on a weekly basis, but it hasn't always been particularly productive work.

    Um, one makes a profit and one doesn't? :lol:

    Nonprofits charge tuition that covers expenses but does not generate profit for the university. For profits charge tuition that does make a profit for the university.
  16. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    A traditional university, such as UMass Amherst or Harvard, takes your tuition dollars and the money they raise, and puts it back into the university itself. In fact, most traditional schools don't charge you as much as your education actually costs. They cover the rest of those costs via fundraising, etc. They are a university. They are there to educate students.

    For-profit schools, such as Phoenix, Kaplan, Devry, ITT, Strayer, etc., charge enough tuition to ensure they make a profit, and then pass at least some of that profit on to their owners/stockholders. They're a business. Their main reason for being is making money.
  17. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

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    I live in a country where no university charges the sort of tuition universities do in the US, even the public ones, so excuse me if the difference isn't so clear to me. My understanding is that 1. there are universities with endowments that could more than cover the cost of tuition for every student on campus, but charge very high tuition nonetheless. 2. There is an interesting relationship between the availability of college loans and the growth of that industry and the rising cost of tuition.

    So: do non-profit universities really put all the money that comes in into education and administrative costs? Or does it cover more than that? I'm genuinely curious. The thought of paying $50,000 a year or starting life with a 6-figure student loan debt baffles me. How can a university education be that expensive? What are people paying for?

    That said, obviously I am well aware that the academic standards are not the same everywhere, and some universities treat students as customers (who are always right) more than others.
  18. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    It really depends on the program. I felt my online degree was rigorous, though not always challenging (though I'm told that is normal for a master's in education, because you are getting a degree in a field you are comfortbable with.) However, I purposefully selected a 'real' school with an online component. We did the same coursework as those who went to the brick and mortar school (though my school issues vastly more online degrees than brick and mortar degrees) and many of my classmates did half online, half in-person work and said the classes were pretty much the same regardless of which you took.

    A friend also did an online degree with a different school, and his degree required a number of Skype presentations, basically as if you were in a group classroom.

    During my Bachelor's the two online classes I had to take were WAY harder than my regular classes, and they even allowed open book, but proctored (it was online, but on campus, if that makes sense) tests. The tests were timed though, so if you were using your book, you probably wouldn't be able to finish!

    My degree paid off for me (I did not take out any loans, I saved for 6 years and paid cash). It was very expensive (private, not-for-profit) but because of it I was able to take a new job, and my raise will cover the cost in just two years. If I had not done an online program, I would have had no way to get a degree because our local university offers no night classes (nor a good program in my field of study- Mathematics Education). There is a nearby school that has a half distance half in person degree, but since I'm not a teacher, I can't take a full summer off to be on campus.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
  19. heckles

    heckles Well-Known Member

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    One has 501(c)(3) status with the IRS and one does not. A "non-profit" university administrator can still command a seven-figure salary, while nagging alumni working as baristas at Starbucks to donate. Total satire, but The Onion had a funny take on it.
  20. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    The for-profit answers back to shareholders. They are basically like any other company- they exist to make money.

    A regular university has to make money to support itself. Professors need to be paid, or else they will go elsewhere (in most cases academia still pays less than industry though), so some are paid highly. Staff needs to be paid too (I work for a University in a totally non-teaching capacity, however, my program actually generates revenue for our college, so we are self-funded, but if we went through a bad year, the University may be able to carry us a bit.) And research needs to be funded. The best universities are not just ones that educate students but also generate and publish new research. There are people who are dedicated to nothing but writing grants to help fund this research, but again, in lean years, some of that money comes from revenue generated by tuition. However, if they make 'extra' money- there is no dividend to shareholders. 'Extra' money isn't something they are wanting to make- not a profit. I believe 501(c)(3)s have a limit to the 'profit' they can make, so if a university was consitently running on surplus, they would have to redo their budgets, but there is always someplace to reinvest it, so that never happens.

    In years past, states greatly funded their public universities. A lot of this funding has been cut, so the difference has had to come from tuition payments.
  21. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    Kaplan is dead; it just hasn't been called yet.

    In most countries, university education is tax supported. When you talk about that kind of tuition in the US, you are talking about a private university, which means that the university is not tax supported. I don't think there are any tax-supported institutions that cost that much here. State schools (which are tax supported) cost considerably less than private schools. Most student pay nowhere near $50K a year and, with very few exceptions, the only people who have six figure debt are graduate and professional school students, not your typical undergraduate.

    So that is one issue--students are paying a much higher tuition rate because they are paying all of the actual cost of their schooling.

    And some have great retirement packages as well, which also must be paid.

    I think some teaching universities would disagree with that assessment :shuffle:

    This is definitely an issue.

    Administrative costs are also on the rise in a lot of institutions. There is much :argue: about this in academia, but at least some of that added adminstration cost is coming from demands for accountability and bean counting. Ten years ago, I had only the vaguest idea of what my school's statistics were; now, there are at least three offices devoted to various assessments that have to be done (I teach at a state school, which is affected by this more than a private school would be). The generation of statistics about pretty much everything except the number of dust particles in the ventilation system is a booming business. The state demands that we answer for the money we spend, then complains that we are spending money to provide that justification. :blah:.
  22. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    In many foreign countries, the government of that country heavily subsidizes the country's universities. That is not the case in the US. In the US, there are public universities, which receive some support from their state governments, and private unis, which are self-supporting. The public unis do not receive the level of financial support from their state governments as many foreign unis do from their country's governments.

    What this means, in the end, is that in a lot of foreign countries, uni tuition is much cheaper than it is in the US, because their unis are subsidized by the country's government - money obtained via taxes. In some countries, tuition (and sometimes even other fees) are 100% funded by the government, making uni education free.

    The US unis that charge $50k per year tend to be either private unis (self supporting), or public unis charging that amount only to students who are not from their state. These public unis would give a lower, in-state rate to residents of their state.

    Wealthy unis with large endowments, such as Harvard, use those endowments to provide financial aid to students who have financial need. They give aid based on family income. So very wealthy students at such unis pay the full charge, but the reality is that the majority of students there would receive at least some financial aid. So that $50k+ is their sticker price. That's not the price most people actually pay.

    Most US university students do not pay $50k per year to go to uni. Most pay much less. The average student loan debt for a bachelors degree in the US is about $27k, total, for all four years of school.
  23. jeffisjeff

    jeffisjeff Well-Known Member

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    Many US universities also provide a ridiculously very high level of amenities to students, more than is found in many other countries. That also contributes to the higher tuition.
    snoopy and (deleted member) like this.
  24. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    I think the great retirement packages are a lot less common than they used to be though. But yeah, the ones offered in years past still have to be paid.

    I'm not saying there are no great teaching universities, I'm just saying that research is a huge function of a university. It would be a massive mistake to shift all of that to for-profit companies, because so many things that need to be worked on wouldn't be, because they don't make money. My husband's PhD was on antibiotic resistance, this is a huge topic in academia, and an issue that has to be solved. Most pharmacetical companies aren't touching antibiotics because they aren't where the money is. (That said- when I think of 'rankings', the universities consistently on the top aren't teaching universities.)
  25. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    That's true, but it's also a rather murky area, as a lot of university research is funded by grants (often from industry) and not by tuition.

    Rankings are only partially related to the quality of teaching, so that's not surprising.
  26. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    Research is a major function of a research university. But liberal arts colleges do not primarily focus on research, and a lot of LACs are truly great, by any definition of that word, including reputation. There's space in the world for both - they just have two different missions.

    Like you, I can't imagine the world of research without research unis in it. As for for-profit unis and research, which you'd mentioned - the U of P is making some (minor, IMO) inroads into establishing some researchiness in their culture. But thing is, 99.99999999% of their faculty are adjuncts, and 99.9995 of them teach online only*, so IMO, it's not a fit.


    *Deliberate exaggeration. I do not know the actual stats, and can't be bothered to look them up ;) , but know that the percentage is very high.
  27. heckles

    heckles Well-Known Member

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    Nah, the "private" universities find every possible tax-nipple and suck as hard as they can, whether it's by Pell Grants and government-subsidized student loans, Vocational Rehabilitation and GI vouchers, federal and state research grants, government subsidies, government employee tuition programs, and a host of other tax-paid programs. The average subsidy per student at Harvard and Yale is $13,000 per student per year before subsidized student financial aid, which is often going to be higher per student because of the higher tuition, is even factored in.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
  28. jeffisjeff

    jeffisjeff Well-Known Member

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    At a research university, researchers are generally expected to be able to raise funds to support their research, and only limited internal sources of support is available. On top of that, universities generally take somewhere around 50-60% of those external research funds as overhead. This isn't true everywhere of course (e.g., it doesn't apply in most business schools) but in science (which presumably is where antibiotic research falls) it would certainly apply.
  29. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I'm not sure where the idea arose that universities are funding all this research. It's faculty members writing grants that funds research. Part of what is factored into faculty promotions is the ability to raise grant money.

    Top tier research institutions are paying very high faculty salaries, ridiculously high administrative costs, very high retirement/pension plans (which typically means about 50-80% of one's highest salary paid in perpetuity on top of full medical benefits and sometimes housing). Also, a not uncommon perk is all tuition costs for children of faculty and staff are paid--regardless of where the children study (applies only to US institutions). That's for top-tier universities, but even lower-tier institutions will provide tuition discounts (sometimes free tuition) to children of faculty members if they study at that institution.

    So when you look at the costs of a research institution, they are invariably quite high. Endowments are lump sums of money that are invested, and whose investment returns are used to fund salaries and/or student aid. You are never supposed to spend the actual endowment because then you have nothing from which to receive interest over the long-haul. So just because an endowment is large doesn't mean those monies can be used to fully pay for students' tuitions. Rather, it's an investment pot from which interest can be generated to pay for certain things. Once you spend the endowment, the school will likely face imminent closure. That's how it works when you don't have the government substantially subsidizing higher education.
  30. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

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    The for-profit university sector is notorious for:
    -Admitting unqualified students (for example, students in a medical assistant program who had basic literacy issues)
    -Touting high paying careers that graduates from their programs are remarkably unlikely to ever achieve (fashion design is a favorite)
    -Encouraging students to take out large student loans
    -Keeping students who want out of the program on the roster just long enough to suck their student loans for that semester
    -Telling students that their credits will transfer to other colleges
    -Flat out lying about job prospects & alumni placement records
    -Not disclosing what percentage of students who start a program actually finish that program
    -Having programs that require practical experience where they don't have slots lined up with appropriate placements (nursing, for example) or having programs that don't meet the qualifications necessary for the students to sit for licensing exams
    and sometimes not even having qualified teachers.

    They are -- too often -- a pimple on the a** of higher education, and they target lower income students & returning vets. Pretty much with the exception of one program in our area that trains A&P mechanics, I don't trust them at all.
  31. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    While that is true, the university does provide facilities (the overhead is paid for, but the facilities are provided ) and cheap or free labor in the form of students, who often have tuition waivers and stipends. I don't know how the financing there works for everyone, but I had a tuition waiver and stipend that was paid for by someone--and it wasn't a research grant. They also often supply admin support and grant writing services.
  32. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    Very true
  33. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    That one is a problem, but not just at for-profit institutions :shuffle:.
  34. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely true...but shocking still to see the number of students who drop out of the for-profit college programs within six weeks of starting them. Loaded up with a whole lot of debt at that point.

    I really consider them as only a step or two above payday lenders, and I'm sorry that the feds haven't stuck to their guns and refused to allow further federal loans and loan guarantees to programs with abysmal records. The students that they suck in are much more likely to be low-income students, often (probably usually from what I've seen) who don't have parents that went to college.

    Just this past weekend I spoke about college to a group of parents from three low-income school districts (courtesy of three Spanish-language translators) and like most other parents I've worked with, they really want their kids to have get the college degrees they perhaps weren't able to get. And I got asked -- twice -- about the (for profit) college whose representatives are calling their homes to encourage them to send their kids to these programs, and encouraging them to take on Parent Plus loans to pay the cost. One parent told me afterwards that the admissions officer suggested that her daughter take the GED instead of graduating next fall so that she could start the program sooner.

    For a lot of students, the alternative is community college, and while they're not perfect, I can't tell you the last person I met who ran up a lot of debt finishing a community college program or certificate. Maybe that isn't true in other areas.
  35. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    That's true. However, the success rate for most community colleges isn't much better than the success rate for for-profit schools, although that is deceptive because of the way success rates are calculated.

    The primary reason that students go to for-profits instead of CCs is time--CCs require placement testing and (if necessary, and it nearly always is with this population) remedial classes, and then there are often waiting lists for the programs that are most likely to lead to jobs that pay good wages. It takes the average community college student seven years to get that two-year degree. The longer it takes a student to complete a degree, the less likely it is that student will finish said degree.

    Why wouldn't students be tempted by a school that tells them that they can take out a few loans and get the "same" degree in two years or a better one in four? Students in general don't know much about college; first-generation students can't rely on their parents to help them; poor school districts don't have the resources and sometimes don't even try. I am related to people who have gone the for-profit route; they think I am crazy when I tell them the degree isn't the same because they think it's all about having a piece of paper. I can't tell them anyting. And in the end, the point is moot because none of them finish anyway.
  36. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    One of my first jobs out of college was teaching at some fly-by-night "trade" school who only existed to get money out of some government program. I was teaching FORTRAN and at first I was told the kids would only be able to visit the computer lab (off campus) one time a week. I wasn't happy about this but I figured I could make it work. Then, when I got there, I was told they could only afford to send them to the lab one time a MONTH.

    No one can learn how to program computers only using a computer once a month during a 6 month class!

    I quit that job and spent my last day giving a lecture on how much cheaper it was to go to the local community college and how to apply. I could tell the students were unconvinced and scared to death at the idea of going to a "real" college and that they were doing this program because some social worker had signed them up for it and therefore there was no fear involved.

    It was really sad.
  37. bek

    bek Guest

    I am actually thinking of using an online MBA program, I'm looking around. But trying to go with one that is either with a regular school or West Governor's University which is a non for profit. My job provides some generous education assistance so I'm thinking I should use it...
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2013
  38. taf2002

    taf2002 Well-Known Member

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    Do online courses require the huge amt of reading that brick & mortar colleges do? And do they tailor classes to the average working adult? I know online courses are convenient, cheaper, & self-paced, but do you actually get a higher education? Is there no value to the classroom experience of professor's lectures & student participation?
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013
  39. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    There's not a lot of partying.
  40. PrincessLeppard

    PrincessLeppard Pink Bitch

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    :p I don't know. Some of the teachers at my school who are taking online classes still do a lot of partying.....

    That said, the standard class format appears to be something like: read this article (which can be really long, but not always), post on Blackboard (or other discussion board) and interact with classmates, and write a short paper. Rinse, repeat. Sometimes, the professor posts a lecture or powerpoint online, and the students watch/read that. And there might be a research paper.