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Over the past few months the for-profit, proprietary education industry and University of Phoenix have received a lot of attention from the media. This scrutiny has come because the federal government is considering changes to the way proprietary schools are regulated.
We fully support the federal government’s goal to make schools more accountable to students and to taxpayers. We’re participating with the Department of Education and with Congress as they establish new rules that serve students best and we maintain strict compliance with current rules and regulations. We will follow any new rules the government ultimately decides to implement, and in fact we already comply with some of the proposed rules that will be coming. We’ve seen recent media reports that focus on incidents in which students – at University of Phoenix and elsewhere – haven’t had the kind of experience we’re committed to delivering. We have strict policies and standards in place to protect students and to ensure their success, and when we fall short of those standards, we take immediate action to correct the situation. And we’ve taken a lot of recent steps to ensure student protection including: Providing a free Student Orientation program for students with fewer than 24 credits (who have less experience with college) so they can make sure they are ready for college before making any financial or enrollment commitments; and, an effective new plan which helps students become more financially literate and includes tools to help them make more informed and responsible borrowing decisions.
However, we’re disappointed that these media reports ignore the thousands of success stories from University of Phoenix students and alumni, the overwhelming majority of whom are successful in their career and proud to be a Phoenix.
We hope the following information will help clarify important facts about the policy debate and our commitment to ensuring student protection and success.
The education students receive at University of Phoenix is valuable and helps them achieve their goals in life. University of Phoenix faculty members hold successful positions in their professional fields. We are fully accredited and held to the same accreditation standards as the top public and private schools. The classes we offer challenge our students – just ask them. Most of our students already hold jobs when they come here, and their salaries tend to increase as they continue their course work and complete their degree.
Our degree programs are fully accredited and prepare students to thrive in today’s job market. For example, since 2004 we have graduated more than 25,000 teachers and 15,000 nurses. Our teaching program is accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) and is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Each state has its own state teacher credentialing examination and standards and graduates of our teaching program must pass the necessary state examinations and student teaching requirements in order to become credentialed to teach in their state of residence.
Our alumni hold highly responsible positions in business and government. From CEOs, to entrepreneurs, to senior White House staffers, our alumni network includes thousands of accomplished professionals who say their University of Phoenix degrees contributed to their success.
We are committed to enhancing financial literacy and reducing student debt. University of Phoenix recently introduced a financial literacy program and a set of tools to help students better understand the direct and indirect costs of their education, including a user-friendly financial aid calculator that helps students better manage debt levels. Since launching these tools, the number of students who take out the maximum loan amount has dropped by approximately 30 percent.
Our counselors and advisors are professional, well trained, and certified. We hold our student advisors to the highest standards of ethics and professionalism. We monitor tens of thousands of calls with students a day to ensure a positive experience for potential students. Our strict standards of behavior and institutional policies are designed to protect students throughout their tenure with the University, and we do not tolerate any violation of these policies.
In addition, over the past 18 months we have been piloting on a large scale a new evaluation and compensation system for student advisors which has no consideration of enrollment figures. This system will be rolled out system wide beginning in the Fall. Eliminating the recruitment factor from the enrollment decisions that students make will place our staff’s focus squarely on advisement. We’re extremely proud of our counselors and advisors, all of whom are dedicated to helping and inspiring our students every day.
University of Phoenix has established a free orientation program for all students with fewer than 24 credits – now students can experience our University before they make any financial commitment. This helps students fully understand the commitment it takes to attend classes and see if it’s right for them.
America ’s higher education system must adapt to meet the needs of today’s working learners. We are concerned that the country will not meet the national education goals set forth by President Obama without a postsecondary system that operates differently than it has in the past and which includes all types of schools – public, private, and proprietary.
More Americans than ever need a college degree and are seeking access to higher education. Jobs today require higher education, yet out of 132 million people in the labor force, about 80 million don’t have a bachelor’s degree, and 50 million working adults have never even tried. These individuals are increasingly looking for ways to remain competitive and advance in their careers in today’s global economy.
Over 70% of today’s students are now categorized by the US Department of Education as “non-traditional” students. Our colleges and universities must meet the needs of today’s working learners who have families and professional obligations that make it extra challenging to pursue a college degree. University of Phoenix provides a balanced approach to higher education, helping students earn a college degree while meeting their responsibilities at work and home.
The traditional higher education system is critically important in the US, but cannot meet our needs alone. This system, which is exclusive in design, was built to meet the needs of a different era when only a small portion of the nation’s workforce needed a college degree. Today’s globally competitive, knowledge-based economy requires America to have a more broadly educated society.
Accredited, degree-granting proprietary institutions play a critical role to the future of education. These institutions provide access to students who previously have been left behind by or excluded from the traditional higher education system. Well managed proprietary institutions do not significantly burden the taxpayer and can meet this demand at a significantly lower cost to society.
Read a letter from University of Phoenix president, Dr. Pepicello, to ABC News that reflects his position on the investigation and highlights what the University is currently doing to protect students.
Although we fully cooperated with ABC News, they left out important facts and information and did not fully report our side of the story. Allow us to share directly the facts and information ABC News left out.