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Is the Problem of For Profits Also the Problem of Non Profits?


In a recent blog post, Marc Bousquet of The Chronicle of Higher Education, takes on the recent media and government for-profit bashing. Bousquet admits that critics of the for-profit education sector are mostly right and that some for-profits are severely tarnishing the image of others. Some of these for-profits, says Bousquet, “are just as bad as they say. They fail to graduate students and the students they graduate are often un-, under- and mis-educated. The students go into debt to pay outrageous tuition for the attention of under-qualified faculty, and then fail to find the employment for which they were putatively prepared.”

But Bousquet says critics from the non-profit education sector should take a look in the mirror before they continue their hypocritical attack.

In fact, notes Bousquet, for-profits “didn’t invent any of this.” All of these essentially deceptive tactics, including what Bousquet has termed the “tuition gold rush,” were first initiated and utilized by the non-profit sector.

Bousquet lists some of the tactics utilized by non-profits over the past forty years and recently employed by for-profits. Among the most prominent problems: underqualified instructors, sky-high tuition costs for students and poor compensation for educators, and offering degree programs that will not lead to gainful employment.

So, writes Bousquet- are for-profits the only education institutions that need reform? Absolutely not. The problem isn’t just for-profit schools it is non-profit colleges and universities and the higher education system as a whole. The deceptive tactics passed down from the non-profits to the for-profits and currently used by the for-profit AND non-profit education sectors need to be eliminated. To fix higher education while stimulating the economy, Bousquet suggests: making higher education free for students who attend public institutions and holding members of the media accountable for accurate education reporting. Additionally, he says, standards need to be raised in the faculty sector. Educators should be required to meet heightened standards but, they also need incentives for continued training and professional development.

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