You Didn’t to Have to Go to a Non-Profit University to Figure This Out

By Michael Baker

A newly-released Senate committee report states that for-profit universities have been placing shareholder profit over the education of their students.  Well, duh.

Of course for-profit school are placing profit (which, by the way, they’re for) above the education of their students.  As publicly traded companies, they’re legally required to.  It’s not such a complicated concept – the board of directors has an obligation to its shareholders to maximize profits and get them a return on their investment; when the board makes decisions that are not in the interest of profit, it runs the risk of being sued by its shareholders.

So it’s no big surprise that students were placed at a lower priority than shareholders.  In the for-profit university business model, they’re the customers, and it only makes sense to keep the customer satisfied when doing so will be profitable.  You didn’t really need a Senate committee to figure this one out; you could make the argument that these for-profit U’s would be grossly mismanaged if this wasn’t going on.

The big deal is, of course, that government subsidized financial aid for students is being dumped into these schools.  But as it becomes increasingly evident that America’s higher education bubble has burst, it might be time to rethink federal aid in general.

Why can’t these for-profit U’s just do what non-profit schools do to make cash – exploit students’ athletic and intellectual abilities without pay?