Friday, September 03, 2010

For profit’s growing market share — market segmentation

In my last rant, I briefly mentioned the for-profit higher education sector’s enrollment growth at the expense of mainstream nonprofit and public education sectors in recent years. The references cited were not public relations’ hype from the for-profit sector’s lobbyists. The sources were the College Board and the National Center for Education Statistics— two of the higher education community’s most reliable objective data sources.

Loss of market share means loss of tuition revenue at time when it has become harder to rely upon federal and state largess. The non-profit establishment’s consternation over market share loss is understandable. Their response is not. The private non-profit and public higher education cabal with its mainstream higher education press allies have been gloating over the ethically suspect recruitment practices revealed by the GAO’s undercover secret shopper investigation. While some of the for-profit sector’s growth may be linked to questionable recruiting practices, this is also true for some of the not-for-profit institutions. The counterproductive character assassination of for-profit colleges in Congress and mainstream higher education press we are now witnessing, only serves to divert public attention from the from the more likely underlying cause of this growing shift in market preference.

The vast majority of the students electing to enroll in for-profit higher education institutions are not the gullible mass of willing victims that the non-profit higher education partisans imply. Rather they are perceptive consumers, who know what they want in educational programs and are willing to pay for the services and conveniences. Too often their needs are unrecognized at nearby public and non-profit privates.

My economist hero, Thomas Sowell has long noted that traditional higher education institutions are managed for the benefit of the administrators and faculty and not the students. Their programs are too often conceived and delivered for the convenience of the provider institution’s employees and not its customers.

College students are no longer that homogeneous cohort of 18 to 22 year olds pursuing their post-secondary education fulltime. The post-secondary market is heterogeneous. For example, data from the 2005 Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) shows that a student at a U.S. institution of higher education is as likely to be in her 30s, taking care of dependents and working full-time as she is to be 19, in a sorority, getting financial assistance from the parental unit, and taking 15 credit hours a semester. More recent CCSSE report MAKING CONNECTIONS: Dimensions of Student Engagement states, “Most community college students are enrolled part-time. Many students, even full-time students, work nearly full-time. Thus, many community college students take classes at night and online.”

The American ideal of a post-secondary education for every citizen who may benefit must be pursued with imagination and flexibly. The for-profits have gotten right. Give them credit for serving student needs that have been too often ignored by the mainstream higher education.


Musician teaches where teachers fail

MAKING grammar fun is the ambition of Adelaide musician Shaun McNicholas, whose Apostrophe Song has become an internet sensation. Mr McNicholas wrote the Apostrophe Song when he was involved in teaching professional English and was amazed to see the film-clip race up the charts once it was posted on the internet by English writer and comedian Stephen Fry. Thousands of people have now watched the catchy song on YouTube.

Mr McNicholas now hopes to sell the accompanying iPhone application which he developed with Adelaide's Enabled Solutions. "It is a helpful and fun little tool to help people use grammar correctly," he said. The application enables people to check the rules for using apostrophes instantly.

Mr McNicholas said he was encouraging students and teachers to write their own versions of the song, which he would post on his website, He is also developing other grammar programs on subject-verb agreement, the semicolon and parts of speech.


Quarter of British primary schools have no male teachers: Fears over vanishing role models as trend worsens

More than a quarter of primary schools do not have a single male teacher, following a long- term decline in their numbers, official figures reveal today. Staff rooms at 4,700 primaries are solely populated by women - 150 more than last year.

And just one man under the age of 25 works in a state-run nursery anywhere in England, the statistics show. The trend has triggered warnings that rising numbers of boys are having little or no contact with an adult male before they reach secondary school.

And with the number of male secondary school teachers also dwindling, some could go through their entire education without being taught by a man. The figures also fuel fears of rising misbehaviour among disaffected teenage boys whose lives lack male authority figures.

Statistics released today by the General Teaching Council show that only 125,361 of 502,562 registered teachers are men - just 25 per cent - with the vast majority working in secondary schools and further education.

Two decades ago, men made up four in ten teachers. In primary schools, in 2009/10, male teachers made up just 12.5 per cent of staff, compared with 13 per cent the previous year. Some 4,700 primaries in England - 28 per cent - have no male teacher or head teacher, up from 27 per cent in 2008/09. Six secondaries have no male teachers.

The decline is thought to be linked to the attractions of other graduate jobs as well as fears over allegations of inappropriate behaviour and society's 'paranoia' concerning paedophiles.

The recession is eventually expected to lead to an increase in the number of men applying to become teachers. But experts warned that men also faced barriers to being accepted on teacher training courses - possibly because most recruiters are women.

Professor John Howson, a recruitment expert and director of Education Data Surveys, warned: 'Colleges are converting fewer male applicants into people on courses than for women.' He added that there are still elements in society which do not 'fully appreciate that men can look after younger children'.

'We probably hit a level of paranoia about four or five years ago - the question is whether we are doing enough to overcome it. 'I'm even more concerned that we are haemorrhaging men in secondary schools. We are losing men at a faster rate at secondary level than primary. 'Where do the boys' male role models come from?' he asked.

The GTC figures also show that only 44 men work in state nurseries, with just one - Jamie Wilson, 23, of Merseyside - in the under-25 age bracket.


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