For-profit university prompts fears after US scandals

8 August 2013 | last updated: 10 December 2015

UCU said today that it was surprised that BPP University College of Professional Studies had been awarded full university status.

America has been rocked by scandals at for-profit universities that have cost students and taxpayers dearly. The US senate education committee published a report this time last year that found for-profit companies spent significantly more on marketing and recruiting than they did on teaching students, billions of dollars of taxpayers' money was squandered and companies prioritised shareholders' profits over students.
 
BPP is a subsidiary company of Apollo Inc. Two of Apollo's US universities - the University of Phoenix and Western International University - have been placed 'on notice' by the US accrediting agency the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) for two years.
 
Institutions are put 'on notice' if they are found to be pursuing a course of action that could result in them being unable to meet one or more criteria for accreditation, according to the HLC. The two universities' notice statuses relate to governance, student assessment and faculty scholarship issues.
 
UCU president, Simon Renton, said: 'Given BPP's parent company's record stateside, we are surprised the government has granted BPP a university title. We have serious concerns that this move could open the floodgates for more for-profit companies to become universities. A quick glance across the pond warns us of the risks associated with that sort of move.
 
'In the States for-profit companies have swallowed billions of dollars in public funds in return for derisory graduation rates, crushing levels of debts and degrees of dubious value. We would ask the government to think hard about awarding for-profit companies university titles and consider the UK's proud reputation for university excellence.'

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