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Anything Government Does, Business Does Better? Try the University of Phoenix

In the SBR Forum, “John Galt” writes:

"Is there anything that the Government does better than the Private Sector?

I ask this question because I honestly can't think of anything. I do realize there is a need for Government and I'm very happy for some of the things that the Government provides. Such as... our Military and Police force(although many of the laws are ridiculous and cost tax payers a fortune). I also really enjoy Public Libraries... which are usually pretty good depending on where you live.

I'm not an anarchist(I'm a Libertarian) and like I said I do realize there is a need for Government. But every time I think of something that the Government does that the Private Sector also does the Government virtually always does it worse. I'm sure there are some things that the Government does better than the Private Sector but I honestly can't think of any. If you can think of anything... please post it in this thread."

“John Galt” isn’t thinking very hard. For just one example, let’s compare the private for-profit University of Phoenix to the non-profit state university in Phoenix, Arizona State University.

According to the White House College Scorecard, at Arizona State University:

  • It costs the average undergraduate student $10,599 a year to attend
  • 57.5% of full-time students graduate within 6 years
  • 5.9% of students taking out federal student loans defaulted on their loans within three years

According to the same White House College Scorecard, at the University of Phoenix:

  • It costs the average undergraduate student $16,585 a year to attend
  • 17.0% of full-time students graduate within 6 years
  • 26.4% of students taking out federal student loans defaulted on their loans within three years

The University of Phoenix costs students more. Far fewer students ever graduate there, and far more of its students fare poorly after leaving the University of Phoenix, so poorly that they can’t pay back their student loans. The University of Phoenix is such a rotten place to get an education that last month the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools recommended that the University of Phoenix’s accreditation status be placed on probation.

I didn’t pick the University of Phoenix randomly. As the largest for-profit university in the United States of America, it is the face of privatized for-profit higher education. It’s a shambles.

So much for the power of business to magically do everything better.

5 comments to Anything Government Does, Business Does Better? Try the University of Phoenix

  • In the UK I read somewhere that the state education system for teenagers gets students them more (pre-university) qualifications per pound spent than private schools. Which raises the question: why does anyone pay vast sums to have their children educated privately? Answer is that private schools ARE BETTER than state schools, but only because they throw money at the problem.

    • A friendly amendment: private non-profit institutions are sometimes better than state schools and in those cases they throw huge amounts of money at educating students.

      I have yet to meet a private for-profit university that isn’t a wreck.

    • I think, in the UK, people pay vast sums to send their students to special schools that are run privately because that’s where the other children of wealthy families are, and the social contacts are hoped to provide future contacts for the children’s private lives. It’s a class thing, not a quality of education thing.

  • Dave

    Jim, it appears that the for-profit u’s target students who just fall through the cracks or who otherwise just can’t do it the usual way. Since I learned that Harvard costs an undergrad 52k a year and the college is sitting on close to 32 billion dollars I’ve been wondering if private non-profit colleges really exist.

    At our house, continuing education takes the form of thegreatcourses.com. Lotsa fun, sort of like TED talks with homework. Definitely for- profit, but reasonably priced. I fully intend to get the neighbor’s kid to show me how to highlight links one of these days but now that she’s got her degree from State U she’s working really ungodly hours at Starbucks to pay off the loans.

    • Dave,

      TheGreatCourses.com was a nice option 5 years ago (I subscribed to such a course), but it offers no usable credit, and now you can obtain free lectures from high profile experts via iTunes U or via Coursera. I’d recommend either of them to you — although, again, they offer no course credit, just learning. None of these are for-profit universities — and if your young friend had taken courses at a for-profit university, her debt load would have been much higher.

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