At many faculty gatherings these days, one hears quips and complaints about for-profit higher education. Professors who value what they consider essential and eroding traditions -- a significant tenure-track faculty and the centrality of the liberal arts, for example -- resent the adjunct-heavy, career-education dominant model of higher education that is widely used in for-profit higher ed. As a result, many faculty advocates are skeptical not only about for-profit higher education, but about the growing number of alliances between nonprofit colleges and for-profit colleges.
Brigham Young University's Independent Study program appears to be wildly successful. At any given time, students are taking more than 100,000 high school courses and 22,000 college classes, for a variety of reasons: to get courses out of the way in the summer, finish high school or college early, or improve their performance in classes in which they struggled.
Critics of for-profit higher education have of late drawn attention to what they see as a pattern of "accreditation shopping" in which for-profit entities purchase financially struggling nonprofit colleges, and then hold on to the regional accreditation that the nonprofit colleges had for years, even as the new owners expand or radically change the institutions' missions.