February 16, 2007

University of Phoenix under fire for instruction quality

Source: New York Teacher

The nation's largest private university, which has specialized in delivering education on the cheap, has found its reputation fraying, according to an investigative report in the New York Times.

The University of Phoenix had found a niche with 300,000 students on campuses in 39 states by offering education, mostly online, to midcareer workers and, not coincidentally, delivering high profits to investors. Among the findings of February's Times report by Sam Dillon:

  • Students race through course work in about half the time of traditional universities;
  • Phoenix's graduation rate of 16 percent is among the nation's lowest, with many complaints from students.
  • The Apollo Group, the university's parent corporation, has seen its stock plummet, with a lawsuit alleging fraud in obtaining and processing financial aid and subsequent turnover among top management.
  • About 95 percent of Phoenix's instructors are part-time, compared to an average of 47 percent across all universities, according to federal stats.
  • Academic quality is sketchy. Of one degree, Henry M. Levin, professor at Teachers College at Columbia University, said, "Their business degree is an M.B.A. Lite."