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University of Phoenix was founded on an agenda of social responsibility to provide educational access to underserved populations. This agenda has served the University and its students well, and the policies underpinning that agenda have become an integral part of the culture of University of Phoenix.
The Mission of University of Phoenix is to provide access to higher education opportunities that enable students to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve their professional goals, improve the productivity of their organizations, and provide leadership and service to their communities. In this, the third Academic Annual Report issued, the University analyzes academic quality in higher education and attempts to answer why it is so difficult to define and to ensure that it is achieved.
Over the last three decades, University of Phoenix has worked to build an institution with the agility to directly address the shifting economic and academic challenges that working adults face. The University's growth over the last thirty years has been fueled by constant innovation and ongoing efforts to improve the learning experience through advanced technology.
University of Phoenix has evolved to meet the changing needs of students and employers. Today the University is a comprehensive learning institution enrolling 470,800 students, with a faculty of more than 32,000 and nearly 600,000 alumni.
University of Phoenix's student body is significantly more diverse than those found at traditional universities. In fact, close to half of the University's enrollment consists of students from underrepresented racial or ethnic communities. Eighteen percent are African American, compared to a national average of only 12 percent. Additionally, female students make up two-thirds of the total enrollment at University of Phoenix as opposed to just over half of the overall enrollment in colleges and universities nationwide.
In addition, the University's more than 32,000 faculty members are far more diverse than national averages for American colleges and universities in general. Eighteen percent of University of Phoenix's faculty is African American, compared to a national average of only six percent. Women now make up more than half of University of Phoenix faculty. The percentage of female faculty at University of Phoenix rose from 49 percent in 2009 to almost 54 percent this year. In comparison, female faculty members make up approximately 45 percent of the post-secondary instructional population nationally.
Student satisfaction, while not an academic measure, provides insight into how to best holistically meet the needs of the student population, while identifying areas for improvement. University of Phoenix student satisfaction surveys over the last year showed that students rate all categories high at approximately 90 percent or better. Additionally, End-of-Program Surveys indicate that students feel their experience at the University was a positive one and rated all services and categories well above average. The University also uses an external measure of student satisfaction, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). In nine of the ten categories, University of Phoenix students rate the University's support and instruction higher than the national average response rating.
Using the Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (SAILS) methodology, University of Phoenix freshmen scored as well as or better than freshman students at other institutions in half of the eight areas measured; and in the four remaining areas, performance among the two groups is essentially equivalent except on the Documenting Sources skill set. Seniors also compared favorably to students at similar institutions in six out of the eight categories.
University of Phoenix freshmen performed equivalently on items related to the Humanities and Social Sciences to freshmen students at other institutions, according to the ETS® Proficiency Profile (EPP) to measure students' academic proficiency and progress. (The EPP was previously known at the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress–or MAPP–assessment.)
Many University of Phoenix students are employed full-time while enrolled. Internal research has shown that University of Phoenix students' average annual salaries for the time they are enrolled in their program of study increase at higher rates than the overall national average salary increase for the same time period. Students enrolled in University of Phoenix's bachelor's degree programs in 2010 earned an average salary increase of 6.8 percent during their time of enrollment, compared to the national average of 2.9 percent. At the master's level, enrolled students earned an average salary increase of 6.5 percent compared to a national average of 2.9 percent during the same time period.
University of Phoenix cost to taxpayers is substantially less than public and non-profit institutions. The net cost to taxpayers per student is just over $1,500 for University of Phoenix. In comparison, the net cost to taxpayer per student is $4,519 for proprietary institutions (2 and 4 year), $7,051 for independent private institutions (2 and 4 year) and $11,340 for public institutions (2 and 4 year), which are substantially subsidized. University of Phoenix pays local, state and federal taxes.
Like all accredited colleges and universities, University of Phoenix's degree completion rate is assessed by the federal government's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), although, the system does a poor job of assessing the nation's non-traditional students, who comprise the majority of the University's student body. IPEDS only considers "first-time" college students who complete their entire college program at the same institution. However, many University of Phoenix students enter the University with transfer credits from other institutions. The University completion rate, which takes into account the entire University student body is defined as the percentage of students who completed at least three credits and went on to be degree-complete within 150 percent of normal degree completion time. Data are collected on the number of students entering the institution as degree-seeking students in a particular cohort year.
University of Phoenix's completion rates for associate degrees is 23 percent for those students graduating in three years and 24 percent for students who take more than three years to complete. For bachelor's degrees, the University's completion rate is 34 percent for those students who graduate in six years and 36 percent for students who take more than six years to complete. As in 2009, at the graduate level, University of Phoenix's completion rate is 55 percent for students who graduate in three years and 63 percent for students who require more than 3 years to complete.