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Study shows that the profit motive works in education just as it does elsewhere.

September 26, 2010

Gary Wolfram has an essay on The John William Pope Center blog this week, explaining how the profit motive actually helps higher education:

In the summer of 2010, a number of powerful politicians launched an attack on for-profit higher education, painting with a very broad brush to portray the whole sector as villainous. Is that accurate? Or is it political posturing? Or some of each?

Daniel Bennett, Adam Lucchesi, and Richard Vedder have written a timely, useful, and balanced report on for-profit higher education.  If you have heard the indictments against the for-profit sector, you should read their assessment, too.

The authors begin by noting that share of students attending for-profit institutions of higher education has grown substantially in the past quarter century.  In 1986 for-profit schools enrolled 300,000 students, by 2008 it was 1.8 million.  Their market share of higher education enrollment had risen from 2.4 percent to 9.2 percent.  The last decade has seen even more impressive growth, with for-profits capturing 23 percent of the total growth in enrollment for the period 1998-2008.

The implication is obvious—the for-profit schools could not have enjoyed such sustained growth if they weren’t delivering an educational product that a large number of students found satisfactory…Continue reading For-Profit Colleges aren’t Villains >>

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