The University of Idaho should think twice about acquiring the University of Phoenix, a group of U.S. Senate Democrats warned Monday in a letter to Scott Green, Idaho’s president.
“Given Phoenix’s long record of poor student outcomes, deception of veterans, and entanglements in federal investigations and enforcement actions, we urge you to reconsider the implications of acquiring Phoenix, which could cause great harm to students and taxpayers not only in Idaho but also across the country,” the lawmakers wrote.
Idaho announced earlier this year that it would spend $550 million to turn the online, for-profit Phoenix into a nonprofit institution under the control of an affiliated organization. The deal would help Idaho expand its online offerings, generate revenue and broaden its reach, officials of the university said.
Illinois’s Dick Durbin, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal want more information about Idaho’s plans to improve student outcomes, ensure that veterans are not targeted by predatory recruiting and cover potential liabilities such as those created by borrower defense to repayment claims. They also want more details about the structure and financing of the deal. A response is requested by Sept. 30.
“We are aware that faculty and staff are concerned that UI’s purchase of Phoenix could harm its quality and reputation,” the letter stated. “We share these concerns. Furthermore, we are concerned that UI’s acquisition will allow Phoenix to continue to abuse students under the guise of a trusted, public university.”