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University of Phoenix is not closing - here's everything you need to know

With worries over the economy and impending recession, rumors are swirling about the future of higher education. Nontraditional universities like University of Phoenix are no strangers to speculation. After announcing its plan to teach-out all but one of its physical campuses by 2025, some people wonder, “Why is University of Phoenix closing?” The reality is, University of Phoenix is not closing.  Rather, the University is simply making a pivot to online-first higher education, driven by the overwhelming number of students choosing the University’ online modality of learning over hybrid or in-person learning since 2016. 

This enrollment trend is unsurprising considering the average University of Phoenix student is a working adult, average age of 35, with dependents. Online learning offers the flexibility to help them succeed in balancing work, life and school. 

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Why is the University of Phoenix closing?

University of Phoenix is not closing. The University of Phoenix is on track to teach-out all but one physical campus by 2025.

The process started in 2012, when the university phased out 100 physical locations. Today, University of Phoenix is going all-in on a remote model by teaching out the remaining students at its physical campuses. Once all of the students enrolled in these programs either graduate or opt for remote learning, University of Phoenix will shift to a nearly 100 percent online format. 

“We have always had a very strong and large online presence, even when we had many more physical campuses. It’s going to not be much of a change in [the student] experience. We have a very robust online suite of support services for our students — they’re available 24/7,” said University of Phoenix spokesperson Andrea Smiley. 

The University emphasized that the change won’t have an effect on students who are currently enrolled at its physical locations. Students enrolled in University of Phoenix locations in Detroit, Tucson, El Paso, Albuquerque, and The Woodlands will be able to complete their degrees in the manner they signed up for. However, this does mean that new students no longer have the option to enroll in physical classes. They must attend classes online going forward. 

The only exception is the University of Phoenix headquarters in Arizona. This will stay open for students who need to complete in-person practicums or requirements for certain doctoral programs. It also gives the University of Phoenix a place to bring its largely remote workforce together for meetings. 

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Why University of Phoenix is teaching out its students

University of Phoenix once had hundreds of locations across the United States. Why is the University teaching students out of its physical classrooms? 

In short, the University of Phoenix is evolving to keep up with the times. It isn’t closing but is instead pivoting to a nearly 100 percent remote model instead. This isn’t a surprise, given the University’s track record as a leader in remote education. It offered remote correspondence courses as far back as the 1980s and embraced digital learning in the 1990s long before traditional universities moved online. 

University of Phoenix says student preferences, flexibility and affordability were the driving forces behind its decision to go remote. 

Students prefer virtual learning options

It’s difficult for adult learners to attend class in person, so the shift to remote learning makes sense for the University’s students. “It’s not super-surprising considering that we predominantly serve adults 35 and older. They’re working full time, they tend to have dependents; we predominantly serve women. And so online learning, it’s just more convenient,” Smiley explained. 

The University spoke to its students and learned that the vast majority prefer virtual learning. Ninety-seven percent of University of Phoenix students prefer to take classes online, so it didn’t make sense to continue maintaining physical campuses. 

Increased flexibility

University of Phoenix was designed to serve the needs of nontraditional learners. By embracing a nearly 100% percent remote model, the University can offer unparalleled flexibility to students, which makes it a more competitive option for prospective students. 

Virtual learning offers more flexibility and time savings. Since there’s no need to commute between school, work and home, students can easily carve out more time for the things that matter most. 

Affordability, both for students and the University

Remote learning is a cost-cutting measure that’s beneficial to both students and the University. During a time of historic costs and inflation, virtual learning helps University of Phoenix better manage its expenses and tuition costs so it can be affordable for students. University of Phoenix students also save money on gas, parking and vehicle maintenance, so it’s a win-win.

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Paving the way for at-home higher education

It’s a bold move to shutter nearly all of its physical locations, but University of Phoenix knows that virtual-first higher education is the future. But this isn’t a matter of going online just for the sake of it: the University is well-known for its commitment to the online experience. 

In fact, its 2020 Academic Annual Report showed that the University of Phoenix increased student retention at a time when enrollment figures plummeted at traditional in-person universities. With the shift to online learning, University of Phoenix is making a name for itself with a revamped classroom experience and partnerships.

Sophisticated online classrooms

Before the pandemic, University of Phoenix offered most of its degree programs and courses online. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, University of Phoenix was able to seamlessly transition to remote learning because most of its courses were already online. The process was so smooth that the University actually held workshops to teach K-12 educators how to do remote learning. 

The pandemic allowed University of Phoenix to iron out its remote-first operations, which made the University realize it was entirely feasible to run 100 percent online. In response, it created a more sophisticated experience for its online classrooms. University of Phoenix classrooms now mimic the in-person learning experience with intuitive, interactive features that make learners feel like they’re in a physical classroom.  

Blackboard partnership

University of Phoenix also partnered with Blackboard to enhance its virtual experience. Blackboard Ally makes the University’s content more accessible to students with disabilities, and SafeAssign helps instructors spot plagiarism more easily. Blackboard Collaborate is an exciting feature that adds whiteboards, chats, polls, real-time feedback and breakout groups for engagement.

"University of Phoenix is committed to providing an advanced and robust differentiated learning environment for its students. That environment requires integrated technologies that Blackboard is providing to support a unique connected student experience through our learning management platform. Our continued partnership with Blackboard is helping us deliver on our goal to meet the needs of each and every learner,” said University of Phoenix President Emeritus Peter Cohen. 

The University of Phoenix is open to all online learners

University of Phoenix helps adult and nontraditional learners reach their goals through the power of online education. By removing the need to attend classes in person, the University is making education even more accessible to learners across the United States. While it’s a bold move, the University is confident that the pivot to a nearly 100 percent online learning will usher in a new era of innovation for higher education.


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