Ann I. Morey: Globalization and the Emergence of For-Profit Higher Education

Ann I. Morey: Globalization and the Emergence of For-Profit Higher Education

A major force for change in higher education is the globalization of economic, cultural, political and intellectual institutions, along with the increasing interdependence of nations, The revolution in technological communications has accelerated this transformation by bringing about a real time, globally connected world. There has been an explosion of virtual or on- line courses that reach across state and national borders. Further, a beginning trend toward the globalization of higher education is apparent with a number of institutions moving toward truly global operations, such as the University of Maryland, the British Open University, Monash University of Australia and the University of Phoenix (Newman & Couturier, 2001).

This environment, when coupled with the needs of adult learners and the rising tuition at traditional colleges and universities, has stimulated the emergence of for-profit higher education in the United States as a viable sector of postsecondary education. The rapid growth and financial success of these institutions has focused discussion and debate around this expanding segment of American higher education. Earlier for-profit companies’ involvement in higher education targeted vocational programs and/or ancillary and support services, whereas the new entrants into the market focus on higher education’s core, the curriculum. Supporters of for-profit education point to the benefits that accrue from competition in a free market scenario, most importantly the improvement of education and potential reduction in costs. Educators argue that public colleges and universities play a critical role in a democratic society by providing education for citizenship and access to opportunity -- functions not often addressed by for-profit firms. This paper examines the recent growth of for-profit, degree-granting higher education in the United States. It discusses the reasons for the growth, provides a cost/profit analysis, and gives examples of for-profit universities that are increasing international in scope. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of these developments for traditional colleges and universities.(Sigue)

Consortium of Higher Education Researchers, 15th Annual Conference, 5-7 September 2002, Vienna, Austria