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U of Phoenix partners with community colleges

“The University Of Phoenix plans to roll out more than 100 new partnerships with community colleges in the coming year,” reports the Huffington Post. The nation’s largest for-profit university will offer bachelor’s degree programs to two-year graduates, gaining students who are more likely to graduate and repay their student loans.

Partnerships with community colleges in Virginia and Arizona have been announced. More are coming, said spokesman Ryan Rauzon, including several in California.

Under increasing regulatory scrutiny, the University of Phoenix has seen enrollment drop precipitously from a peak near 500,000 to 320,000.

Community colleges and for-profit schools typically serve the same working, non-traditional student demographic. They “divide up the market,” explained Dr. Anthony Carnevale, an education expert from Georgetown University.

And as increased demand for bachelor’s degrees is driving many four-year public and non-profit private institutions to become more selective, it is unsurprising that community colleges seeking to build new programs would find an eager partner in for-profits like the University of Phoenix, Carnevale pointed out.

“It’s a fairly obvious deal,” he said. “It’s kind of a wide open market space at the moment.”

The new partnerships will expand on articulation agreements already in place that help community college graduates transfer their credits to a bachelor’s degree program, say executives at Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix.

When community colleges in Arizona wanted to offer their own bachelor’s degrees, the University of Phoenix lobbied against the low-cost degrees. The for-profit giant “provided research and political muscle for a multi-year lobbying campaign,” reports Sarah Pavlus in the American Independent.