The Hill – July 30, 2012
By Mark Brenner, Apollo Group, Inc
Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, released a report on for-profit colleges and universities, including University of Phoenix. This report is the culmination of a two year review.
The report fails to capture the truth about University of Phoenix and our students. And while University of Phoenix can’t speak on behalf of all proprietary institutions, we believe the public deserves the facts about our University and the more than 300,000 students and 700,000 alumni we serve.
According to the Department of Education, more than 70 percent of America’s students are classified as “non-traditional,” meaning that a conventional, residential four-year college experience will not work for them. These are the students we serve at University of Phoenix: working parents, returning military service personnel, and first-generation learners who need the freedom to fulfill other responsibilities while earning degrees.
In the interest of balance, University of Phoenix is compelled to set the record straight on a range of issues raised in the Committee Staff Report.
First, at University of Phoenix, our students and their successful completion of their degree programs are our top priority. Our goal has always been to provide a quality, flexible, rigorous and relevant education. Our interest in a student’s ability to graduate begins even before they enroll. The mandatory University Orientation program at University of Phoenix serves as an introduction to the higher learning atmosphere for less experienced students while providing prospective students understanding of the time and commitment required to be successful in our degree programs before they enroll and before they take on debt.
University of Phoenix has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in our students’ learning platform and classroom experience. In fact, many of the techniques first pioneered by University of Phoenix including online learning, e-textbooks, collaborative learning teams, adaptive learning and expert faculty practitioners are now considered best practices in the higher education community at large.
That investment moves beyond the classroom. Career Services not only helps students prepare for the job interview but also offers job opportunities at major U.S. companies that understand the experience and ability that working learners bring to the table.
In addition, our record of responsibly providing a quality and accredited education to our nation’s military and our leading efforts with Congress and the White House to enhance and expand protections for those in the armed forces is above reproach. We continue to actively support bipartisan, commonsense reforms that apply to all schools and joined with various veterans’ service organizations to outline specific reforms to support and protect military students.
The biggest shortcoming from this review is it fails to recognize the intrinsic value of our institution: a value that is not only helping students right now, but that is pointing towards a brighter future for American higher education.