"If quality assurance is partly about risk, are for-profit institutions inherently more risky than public institutions?", asks a discussions paper released by Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and UNESCO) based on a recent meeting on for-profit higher education.
The paper looks into the quality assurance challenges and needs with internationalization of for-profit higher education institutions supported by ambitious growth goals and technological advancements with e-learning models. It is becoming increasingly complex to assure quality in a multi-country delivery format. For example, there are 420,000 people outside the UK pursuing UK degrees through a range of models in 100 countries.
I agree with report at one level and disagree on another.
- Agree: For-profit is indispensable in meeting global demand
Developing countries are anyways resource constrained and investing in fixed assets for meeting increasing demand is an inefficient way to grow. Private institutions have taken leap in exploiting and adopting online learning technologies and economies of scale which may better meet the needs developing countries. Of course, it does not apply to all level of programs and fields of studies, however, it does hold immense potential.
- Disagree: "level playing" field for quality assurance and transparency
By definition, the primary focus of "for-profit" institutions is to maximize profits and the simple rule of profit maximization is to cut costs (technology) and raise revenues (enrollment). While for-profits have done a great job in bringing cost-efficiency they have also vitiated the confidence about their recruitment marketing practices. A strong quality assurance process is required to enable growth of cross-border for-profit education, while managing the risks it poses to students.
Dr. Rahul Choudaha