APSCU Press Release: National Student Clearinghouse Data Confirms Top Performance By Private Sector Institutions

Today, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a new "Signature Report" that highlighted the superior graduation rates at private sector two year institutions compared to public and private non-profits. Two year private sector institutions had a 60% graduation rate compared to 45% at non-profit institutions and 38% at public institutions. 

"This performance is a result of our sector's dedicated focus on student outcomes. Our institutions are proud to deliver cutting edge programs, student support services, and career services," said APSCU president and CEO Steve Gunderson.   "Students choose to attend our institutions because we offer career focused education and the most direct path to a career with real opportunity and income."

Direct link to press release: http://apscu.org/news-and-media/press-releases/National-Student-Clearinghouse-Data-Confirms-Top-Performance-By-Private-Sector-Institutions.cfm

Inside Higher Ed: Changing the Conversation

February 18, 2016
Beset with federal and state investigations, decreased enrollment and declining revenues, the University of Phoenix is hoping people see a company on the rise.

Literally. Phoenix is embracing its name with a new ad campaign called "We Rise."

Apollo Education Group, the parent company for Phoenix, is working on rebuilding the university's reputation, said Greg Cappelli, Apollo's chief executive officer, during a call with investors last month.

"We believe these initiatives, along with our campus realignment and other actions we've taken previously will form the foundation for a stronger university with higher completion rates and improved student satisfaction, and will support our goal to transform University of Phoenix to a more trusted, focused, higher-retaining and lower-complexity institution," he said.

The company has been undergoing changes as it deals with a toughened federal regulatory environment and decreases in enrollment. Last week Apollo announced plans to be sold to a group of investment firms. And the move, if it goes through, would mean the publicly traded Apollo would become privately held.

"The reality for Phoenix and a lot of for-profits is that it's a sector under fire, from the federal government, from students, from prospective students," said Jason Simon, vice president of Simpson Scarborough, which helps colleges and universities with brands and marketing. "What's interesting is they're being bold and direct to counter those perceptions. They're directly going after those criticisms."

But Simon said advertising typically isn't done to counter negative publicity -- it's used to drive or support a business goal, or to acquire new students or highlight academic programs. For example, he pointed to Kent State University's decision to purchase local advertising time during the Super Bowl. However, Phoenix has long had a reputation for savvy advertisements -- it remains the only university to own naming rights to an NFL stadium, and Advertising Age reported that the company spends about $100 million a year on advertising.

The ads, which were created by 180LA, according to Advertising Age, focuses on working adults and negative perceptions. One ad features a modified version of the song "If I Only Had a Brain" from The Wizard of Oz, which plays as a diverse group of students finds time to study while caring for family or working. Other ads feature Phoenix alumni responding to online criticism of the institution and their degrees.

"Just look at the images, like with the 'If I Only Had a Brain' ad. They're showing how they serve various students and how they're valuable for those students," Simon said. "There are some powerful and striking images there about serving the nontraditional students, and that's a different way of communication for them."

Another new ad focuses on Muriel Duncan, who graduated Phoenix in 1979 at age 50, and how she continues to use her degree today.

The ads have generated plenty of conversation, although whether or not they will succeed in changing people's perceptions of the institution remains debatable.

Direct link to article: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/02/18/u-phoenix-looks-rise-again-new-advertising-campaign

APSCU Press Release: APSCU President Gunderson Releases State of the Sector Report

White Paper Details Significant Changes and Renewed Focus on Outcomes

Washington, DC - February 1, 2016 – Today, APSCU president and CEO Steve Gunderson released a "State of the Sector" report on postsecondary career education. The white paper details the recent history of the sector, as well as frames the future around which the sector will continue to best serve America's new traditional students.

Commenting on the release of the paper Gunderson said, "The message that I am sending to policymakers, media, stakeholder, and the public is that private sector career education is much different than the one targeted by the Obama Administration for the past six years. Our sector has increased academic awards, while also showing a decline in use of Title IV funds, reduction of tuition and fees, and a very significant reduction in cohort default rates.The only thing that has not changed is the sector's continued focus on serving those most in need of additional access and opportunity – today's new traditional students."

The paper documents the dramatic changes and improvement that have taken place since the beginning of the decade. Between 2010 and 2014:
          ·Total Sector Enrollment:              Down 572,587 students
Tuition and Fees:                        Down 1.2 to 2.4%*
          ·Total Sector Revenues:               Down $2.3 Billion
Title IV Financial Aid:                  Down $12.3 Billion
Sector's % of all Title IV Funds:   Down 6.7%
Default rates:                             Down 3.7% to 7.4%*
Academic Awards:UP 20,877!
(Asterisk references the difference in 2 and 4 year programs.)

Gunderson notes that there is good reason for optimism around future growth in the sector:
  1. The sector will be defined by its mission: postsecondary career education, rather than the corporate structure of schools or the form of academic delivery – this will position it to serve a growing demand;
  2. Almost every projection suggests an increase in postsecondary enrollments is coming;
  3. The sector has moved from a focus on admissions to a focus on outcomes.
In conclusion, Gunderson writes, "if one combines some key factors defining the future of higher education, there is reason for optimism and growth.We know that demographics and a changing economy combine to increase demand for specific occupational skills.We also know that this sector has a long tradition of programming in many areas with projected growth over the next decade.As the demographics – from race/ethnicity to age of the students – continue to evolve, this sector has the history and culture of successfully serving minorities and older students."

"By choice, economic necessity, or political climate this sector has changed!In the last five years, the data shows that significant change has occurred. The immediate challenge is in communicating that change to policy makers, the media and others engaged in postsecondary education so that today's public policy reflects today's sector.

View the full report

Direct link to press release: http://www.apscu.org/news-and-media/press-releases/State_of_Postsecondary_career-education.cfm