Both Arizona and Purdue, with one move, have outwardly leapfrogged their competition and became major players in the online world with a much more diverse set of learners — working adults from underserved demographic groups. So it’s not hard to see why other universities are looking to follow their leads. When Purdue University Global was being approved by accreditors in 2018, there were already a dozen other nonprofit colleges exploring potential acquisitions of existing for-profit online universities. This appears to be an emerging, problematic trend. Call it the Instant Global Campus movement.
Hill’s main beef with the movement is that these insta-campuses are isolated from their co-branded brick-and-mortar universities. Fair enough. But the real problem is the stealth privatization of the public land-grant university:
Under the Purdue and Arizona arrangements, the parent for-profit companies, Kaplan Higher Education and Zovio, transition immediately from the perilous for-profit sector, with its shrinking enrollments and reputational baggage, into the lucrative and growing online-program-management market. The companies not only gain Purdue and Arizona as clients, each worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenue, but also get a springboard to serve many other colleges with these services.