By Deborah M. Seymour and Michael B. Horn
The election of President Trump and shifts in the regulatory environment due to Republican control of Congress have, of late, been sparking speculation that regionally accredited for-profit higher education institutions would be poised for a comeback. The acquisitions of Kaplan University by Purdue University and of EDMC by the Dream Center add another dimension to this landscape, as the online nonprofit competition grows and the pressure becomes greater for those remaining for-profits to stay viable.
There is an important niche that for-profit institutions can fulfill, and the opportunity is available for these institutions to jump (back) into this niche under potentially relaxed regulatory circumstances. The full spectrum of postsecondary education can benefit from proprietary education returning to its roots while still looking toward the future.
Yet for the enduring for-profit institutions to make a comeback, they will have to reinvent and reinvigorate themselves and recapture public trust damaged by a mix of ill-conceived business models, bad behavior and years of harsh regulatory scrutiny. That’s easier said than done.
To execute, for-profit institutions can’t just articulate a new vision for the future, but will have to live it