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Earnings from Learning

The Rise of For-Profit Universities

David W. Breneman, Brian Pusser, Sarah E. Turner

Publication Year: 2006

Earnings from Learning examines the historical and contemporary factors that have fueled the rise of postsecondary for-profit, degree-granting institutions as a dynamic and powerful force in education. The contributors focus on such institutions as the University of Phoenix, DeVry, and Strayer to present theoretically grounded and data-driven research from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. They document unprecedented shifts in the postsecondary political economy and landscape and evaluate the implications for nonprofit institutions, including understanding the public and private benefits of higher education, postsecondary access and success, institutional resource allocation, competition, governance, and technology.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series, Frontiers in Education


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Earnings From Learning

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xv

The present volume had its origin in fin-de-siècle twentieth-century America, when the enthusiasm for anything new related to the Internet and to the teaching of skills required by the “New Economy” dominated discussions about higher education. Among the developments capturing attention in that frenzied atmosphere was the growth of for-profit, degree-granting institutions ...

Part 1. Theory

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1. The Contemporary Provision of For-Profit Higher Education: Mapping the Competitive Market

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pp. 3-22

It has become an article of faith in popular accounts that the next decade will be a period in higher education defined by significant competitive gains by for-profit providers of degrees, educational services, and products (Odening and Letsinger, 2003; Newman and Couturier, 2001; Ruch, 2001). As one sign of the rapid pace of change, the growth in the number and the nature of con- ...

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2. Higher Education, Markets, and the Preservation of the Public Good

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pp. 23-50

One of the more remarkable aspects of contemporary research and analysis of higher education is the repeated invocation of the emergence of a market for postsecondary education and training (Newman, Couturier, and Scurry, 2004; Kirp, 2003; Collis, 2001; Ruch, 2001; Duderstadt, 2000, 1999; Munitz, 2000; Goldstein, 1999; Marchese, 1998). These accounts generally suggest that...

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3. For-Profit Colleges in the Context of the Market for Higher Education

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pp. 51-68

Provision of postsecondary, professional education by for-profit enterprises is not a uniquely modern development. Well into the nineteenth century, proprietary education was a source of training for professional occupations in areas such as teaching, medicine, law, and accounting (Goldin and Katz, 1998). Moreover, rapid industrial growth at the turn of the century led to a prolifer- ...

Part 2. Practice

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4. The University of Phoenix: Icon of For-Profit Higher Education

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pp. 71-92

By virtually any measure, the University of Phoenix (UOP) stands out as the leader in the for-profit, degree-granting, sector of American higher education.1 Billing itself as the largest private university in the world, with total degree enrollments across all of its campuses of 255,600 students in 2004, UOP has been a clear financial and educational success. Among the leading ...

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5. Profit Centers in Service to the Academic Core

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pp. 93-112

Since the late 1990s, the role of entrepreneurial revenue generation in the financing of public and private higher education in the United States has received significant attention (Pusser, 2002; Heller, 2001; McKeowan-Moak, 2000; Goldstein, 1999; Kane, 1999; McPherson and Schapiro, 1998). Interest in the topic can be traced to a variety of sources, including the following: ...

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6. The Market for Higher Education at a Distance: Traditional Institutions and the Costs of Instructional Technology

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pp. 113-142

What are the root causes of the move by traditional institutions into the for-profit sphere? In this chapter I assess one such cause—or at least catalyst—of that move: an interest in exploiting new instructional technologies. Specifically, I suggest that some traditional institutions have made very optimistic estimations—indeed, they have been overly optimistic—about such technolo- ...

Part 3. Political Economy

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7. Capital Romance: Why Wall Street Fell in Love With Higher Education

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pp. 145-166

The number of publicly traded degree-granting providers of postsecondary education in the United States grew at a steady pace throughout the nineties. Following the early example of DeVry, Inc. (DV) in 1991 and the Apollo Group, Inc. (University of Phoenix) (APOL/UOPX) in 1994, ten degree-granting providers of postsecondary education went public during the second...

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8. A Crowded Lobby: Nonprofit and For-Profit Universities and the Emerging Politics of Higher Education

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pp. 167-194

Over the past decade there has been a significant increase in research on for-profit providers of degrees and training in higher education (Pusser and Turner, 2004; Kirp; 2003; Pusser, 2002; Newman and Couturier, 2001; Winston, 1999). Much of that work has turned attention to the possibility of for-profit expansion, with a particular focus on price and subsidies (Hoxby, 1998; ...


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pp. 195-196


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pp. 197-212

E-ISBN-13: 9780791481349
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791468395
Print-ISBN-10: 0791468399

Page Count: 228
Illustrations: 10 tables, 16 figures
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: SUNY series, Frontiers in Education
Series Editor Byline: Philip G. Altbach See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 85868454
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Earnings from Learning

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • For-profit universities and colleges -- United States.
  • Education, Higher -- Economic aspects -- United States.
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