Why are the nation’s public and private “Non-profit Axis” and their grandstanding politician allies so disdainful of the for-profit higher education sector? I suggest that they have vastly different reasons for their animosity towards the for-profit sector. Yet they appear to be bound together in an unspoken “your enemy is my enemy” alliance. In my last rant, I suggested that the Non-profit Axis, public and private post-secondary institutions, were responding, perhaps unconsciously, to their incremental loss of market share in recent years.
The vast majority of the students electing to enroll in for-profit higher education institutions are not the gullible mass of willing victims that the non-profit higher education partisans imply. Rather they are perceptive consumers, who know what they want in educational programs and are willing to pay for the services and conveniences. Too often their needs are unrecognized at nearby public and non-profit privates.
This is my new Free Liberal weblog about how we think about perspective in public policy. It will cover issues of typology and paradigm and how they relate to discourse in economics, law, and politics. This space will provide a sketchpad for longer articles on the main page. See the opening article here.
The American higher education community contains three separate constituencies: They are public and private non-profit institutions, and proprietary or for-profit enterprises. There has long been a polite tension between the nation’s public and private non-profit higher education institutions. Both are in competition, in one way or another, for prestige, students, faculty, and philanthropy, and at the state and federal troughs. They expend millions of their operating budgets on lobbyists to promote individual institutions and their sectors in state capitals and Washington. Their respectful squabbles are periodically noted in the higher education and public media. Both not-for-profits appear to have a common perceived enemy that prompts their public indignation. In a tacit your-enemy-is-my-enemy alliance, they share a common enemy: for-profit higher education.
This is the first of a series of weekly observations on contemporary American higher education. Each week I will address specific issue—governance, mission statements, liberal arts in the curriculum, faculty responsibilities, access and other targets of opportunity. At times, I will address global issues influencing the American higher education community and in turn its influence on the rest of the world. At the risk of appearing an ungrateful heretic, I will often be critical of the industry that has employed me for over forty years.