|A University of Phoenix degree|
(More than 100 comments added; go here to read them and be sure to read the companion blog post and comments about Saturday Night Live's "University of Westfield" ad) There's a very serious critique of the University of Phoenix in today's New York Times. This for-profit, continuing-education institution -- which offers in-class programs as well as online degrees -- has been providing substandard education, according to many students quoted in the article.
The most telling statement, however, comes from the head of the accreditation agency responsible for business degrees:
Although Phoenix is regionally accredited, it lacks approval from the most prestigious accrediting agency for business schools, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.In many ways, it's a typical story -- a large corporation putting financial goals ahead of product quality and the needs of its customers. But in this case, the nature of the products (education and degrees) and the customers (students) makes this story especially sad. This isn't about deceptive promotions for cellphone service or poorly made widgets. This is about people who are seeking knowledge or a boost for their career. It sounds like a lot of students have wasted time, money and hope on University of Phoenix programs. For those who have already graduated, reports like this devalue the University of Phoenix, and its degrees.
John J. Fernandes, the association’s president, said the university had never applied. “They’re smart enough to understand their chances of approval would be low,” Mr. Fernandes said. “They have a lot of come-and-go faculty. We like institutions where the faculty is stable and can ensure that students are being educated by somebody who knows what they’re doing.”
I'd be curious to hear from people who have taken online or in-class lessons from the University of Phoenix, or those who actually have UoP degrees and can give a University of Phoenix review. What do you think of this article? Can the trust of students and the University of Phoenix's reputation be rebuilt?
Updates to What's the value of a University of Phoenix degree?
First update: This post, and another post about Saturday Night Live's "University of Westfield" ad generated a lot of traffic and responses. However, I am disturbed by the appearance of what I believe to be a comment from an employee of the University of Phoenix's parent company, either ridiculing its student customers or making a strange attempt at astroturfing. See this comment and my follow-up and judge for yourself. Also, if you want to join the discussion here or on that page, that's fine, but I will call out any comment that comes from an official UOP corporate source, yet claims to be an ordinary customer or alumnus.
Second update: Frontline (a weekly documentary program on PBS) has a fascinating profile of for-profit education called College, Inc. It includes a lengthy examination of the University of Phoenix and its parent company, Apollo Group. You can read my review of the Frontline program and watch the video here.
Third update: On my blog entry about the SNL parody of the University of Phoenix, someone has posted a blistering review of the University of Phoenix MBA program. The author is someone who says he recently completed his UOP MBA.
Fourth update: I have taken an online math class for credit, and have this to say about the online education experience:
Fifth update: Another response to my separate blog post about the SNL University of Phoenix parody ("The University of Westfield") has drawn a critical comment that describes the UOP online experience and UOP grading.
Sixth update: Another comment, from someone in the AA/IT program: "My experience started rocky during the first 4 classes and improved substantially as the classes became more challenging." The reasons for the rocky start? "The initial quality of students appeared to be inadequate to maintain participation and attendance. I also had to drop one class within the first week due to concerns over the quality of education from the instructor. "
Seventh update: Another apparent attempt at astroturfing by the University of Phoenix, this time on a new post about the Frontline documentary about for-profit and online colleges who exploit veterans to get at their GI Bill benefits.
- Saturday Night Live's "University of Westfield" ad: The reputation of online degrees takes another hit
(Update: Since writing this post, I have launched a company which is dedicated to helping people understand complicated technologies and concepts. Besides creating online posts which address questions such as What Is Dropbox and What Is Google Drive, I have also published a series of guides under the In 30 Minutes brand.)