My school, and my superiors particularly, have got some bad press recently (“A Chain of For-Profit Art Institutes Comes Under Scrutiny“). I think, as I have said before, that we in the for-profit industry ought to welcome increased scrutiny and regulation. We’ve grown quickly in the last 15 years because we filled a gap in the education system that the public institutions ignored. The next 15 years will be different.
I think that the age of Reagan– characterized by a freakish worship of markets and profits– is rapidly coming to a close. Not all markets are going to be equally regulated and no doubt some insidious ideology of the Reagan kind will always be with us. But the free wheeling days are over. I also think online for-profit eduction is likely to be one of the poster kids for the new age of regulation. That’s one major change.
Another change is that the public institutions are, at least in some cases, returning to their historical mission of proving an affordable education to a wide audience. That too will happen only unevenly and inconsistently but it will happen. In the next 15 years, then, for-profits won’t be able to recruit as aggressively and its claims about results will come under increasing scrutiny. Soon enough, too, we’ll have real public competition.
If we are going to survive in this new environment, and keep our geese alive, we need to be the poster child for long-term thinking in capitalism. A good analogy might be to the for-profit medical systems’ (admittedly uneven) embrace of preventive medicine. We need to invest in teachers– that means full-time faculty with job security– and in developing the professional networks that will add substance to our claims.