The Rise of the For-Profit University
Winner of the 2002 Alice L. Beeman Research Award for Outstanding Writing about Communications from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education
Among higher education institutions in the United States, for-profit colleges and universities have steadily captured a larger share of the student market. A recent trend at for-profit institutions is the coupling of job training with accredited academic programs that offer traditional baccalaureate, professional, and graduate degrees. Richard Ruch, with administrative experience in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors of higher education, takes us inside these new for-profit institutions, describing who teaches there, who enrolls and why, and how the for-profits are managed and by whom. He analyzes their different structures, services, and outlook on higher learning and training, and explains in detail how they make profits from tuition income.
In Higher Ed, Inc., Ruch opens up the discussion about for-profit higher education from the perspective of a participant-observer. Focusing on five providers—the Apollo Group (the University of Phoenix); Argosy Education Group (the American Schools of Professional Psychology); DeVry, Inc. (DeVry Institutes of Technology); Education Management Corporation (the Art Institutes International); and Strayer Education (Strayer University)—he conveys for the first time what it feels like to be inside this new kind of American institution. He is also candid about the less attractive aspects of the for-profit colleges, including what those who enroll may give up. As Ruch makes clear, the major for-profit colleges and universities offer a different approach to higher education—one that may be increasingly influential in the future.