In 1994, the University of Phoenix leaders decided to take the parent company, Apollo Group, public. UoPX enrollment exceeded 100,000 students by 1999. According to Senator Tom Harkin, who chaired hearings on for-profit colleges, “I think what really turned this company is when they started going to Wall Street. In 2008, UoPX was the top recipient of student financial aid funds, receiving nearly $2.48 billion. For the 2008–2009 fiscal year, the University of Phoenix student body received more Pell Grant money ($656.9 million) than any other university. In 2010, the University of Phoenix had an enrollment of more than 470,000 students with revenues of $4.95 billion. A 2010 report found that the UoPX online graduation rate was only 5 percent.
Online education and corporate training
Students have access to class-specific online resources, which include an electronic library, textbooks, and other course materials. Some academics and former students argue the abbreviated courses and the use of learning teams result in an inferior education. The University of Phoenix has been criticized for lack of academic rigor. Henry M. Levin, a professor of higher education at Teachers College at Columbia University, called its business degree an “MBA Lite”, saying “I’ve looked at [its] course materials. It’s a very low level of instruction.
The university runs a program called “corporate articulation agreements” that allow people working at other companies to earn college credit for training they have completed at their jobs. To qualify for college credit, students can either create a professional training portfolio or write an “experiential essay”. The portfolio is a collection of documents such as transcripts from other schools, certificates, licenses, workshops or seminars.