The Apollo Group – parent company of both the University of Phoenix and BPP (the first for-profit private University College in the UK) – reported its results a couple of months ago. It’s an interesting read, and they certainly seem to have a strong grasp of their situation.
I’m not going to look closely at the academic side of the University of Phoenix part of the business, because Tony Bates has done a comprehensive job of assessing their results from their Annual Academic Report. He gives them an A+ compared to the rest of the system for ‘meeting a real need, in terms of the market it serves'; a B- for quality assurance, “could improve on this a great deal, but then this is a challenge for the whole post-secondary system”; and a D for its graduation rate:
It should be finding a way to get more students graduated, especially given the high level of fees that UofPx’s students are paying, and the financial aid students are getting through Federal grants. On this I would give UofPx a D grade. (But then I would give more or less the same to public institutions on this measure).
He also notes that they make money “by the bucket: $1.04 billion profit in 2009 (before tax), which is more than the total operating budget of most research universities”. They do indeed make a lot of money, and in the rest of this post I’m going to dig in to some of the figures for the University of Phoenix and – closer to home – BPP.