THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: U. of Phoenix and Thurgood Marshall Fund Announce Partnership

Career College Central Summary:

  • The University of Phoenix, the nation’s largest private for-profit higher-education institution, announced on Thursday that it had formed a partnership to offer some of its online courses free to students at historically black colleges.
  • The university has not yet made any arrangements with individual colleges, according to a spokesman, but has agreed to work with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, one of the three major fund-raising and membership organizations that support black colleges.
  • The deal is meant to help students at historically black colleges complete their degrees on time, as well as to give the colleges access to technology and online courses that they may not be able to offer on their own, said Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and chief executive of the Thurgood Marshall fund.
  • After the University of Phoenix reaches an articulation agreement with an individual college, students at that institution will be able to take some required courses through Phoenix at no additional cost. The deal will be available to students at any of the nation’s 104 historically black colleges, not just the 47 public institutions that are members of the Thurgood Marshall fund.
  • For every student who signs up for one of the courses, Phoenix will make a donation to the Thurgood Marshall fund for future scholarships. The university has not specified the amount of those donations.
  • Phoenix is also pledging to introduce its online teaching methods to faculty members at black colleges and to "share insights into how technology can create effective modes and means of expanding access to learning resources and collaboration," according to a news release.
  • Mr. Taylor said that the initial question he has heard about the deal is why a black college would agree to work with a competitor. The University of Phoenix already enrolls more black students than any historically black college, he said, and graduates the most black students every year.
  • "The main reason is, we have got to figure out how to enable online learning," he said. The costs are so significant that even the largest black colleges have not been able to pursue it, he said.
  • "You can’t beat" the University of Phoenix at it, Mr. Taylor said, "so you might as well join them."
  • If all goes well, the agreement has the potential not only to improve retention and graduation rates at black colleges, but also to increase enrollment at the institutions, which now educate a small percentage of the nation’s black college students.

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