“College Inc.” | FRONTLINE Examines For-Profit Colleges

The fundamental tenet of what has come to be known as “the Knowledge Economy” is that in today’s global marketplace, job-seekers across all industries need advanced skills, knowledge, and training to compete for available positions. In many respects, this idea is not new. Employers have always sought out the best and brightest. The difference is that in today’s economic environment there are few viable career options that do not require at least a college degree. Yet with states facing continued budget shortfalls, public institutions of higher learning are having their budgets cut at the same time the realities of the Knowledge Economy have caused demand for “knowledge” to spike. Filling that void is the for-profit college industry.

PBS’ FRONTLINE explored the burgeoning for-profit college industry in a recent episode entitled “College Inc.” The questions raised are relevant to anyone who values education, and of particular importance to those of us who work in higher education. Do for-profit colleges dilute the meaning and value of undergraduate degrees? Is there something inherently wrong with the fact that 86% of Phoenix University’s revenue comes from student loans issued by the Federal Government using our tax dollars? What recourse do students have when they are promised “gainful employment in a recognized occupation” despite curriculum and training that is unaccredited and/or irrelevant to employers?

Watch and leave your comments below:

Posted by Bob Mabbitt

UPDATE (5/11/10): University of Phoenix responds to PBS FRONTLINE episode “College, Inc.”