Organization's head argues private colleges are essential to competition

Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) President Steve Gunderson recently published an article addressing President Barack Obama's administration's backlash against private-sector colleges.

"While they should be pursuing public-private partnerships, they continue to pursue big government in ways that curb the ability of the private sector to create real jobs, real incomes and a real chance for entrance into America’s middle class,” Gunderson wrote. 

When asked why there seemed to be resistance to competition, APSCU Vice President of Public Affairs Noah Black told Higher Education Tribune, “That is the same question we are asking. We think that it is an ideological resistance to private-sector solutions.”

Black explained private-sector colleges are not subsidized by the government, so they are driven more directly by competition that creates an increased ability to reduce tuition where public colleges are raising it.

Black further explained that private-sector colleges have to follow the same rules as every other college. The students are of the same caliber in terms of dedication, and private-sector colleges have to follow accreditation rules as well.

“The Department of Education has its ways to investigate all colleges. Private-sector colleges are no different.” Black said. “What is most important to APSCU and its members is to see how employers are using the students that are going through educational programs, regardless of whether it is a four-year or two-year public- or private-sector school. It is about giving the workforce what they need.”

Furthermore, he believes it is important to offer practical education to those who are looking for work and need more education to increase their likelihood of employment.

“Two-year programs are more practical for those coming back from the military or those who have been struggling with layoffs," Black said. "There are time restraints that four-year colleges do not address.” 

By virtue of private-sector colleges being competitive, they also need to be innovative, Black explained. Online classes and flexible hours are now imitated at public colleges and universities.

“We are now asking, ‘What is the next step?’” in terms of educating people so they can gain employment in multiple disciplines in the most accommodating ways possible for the student," he said. "Support services are important, especially with online classes and flexible schedules. We are finding better ways to help students succeed.”

Currently, APSCU has a call for sessions for the June 2016 conference in Orlando, Florida, which hopes to further address some of these issues. The agenda should be finalized by March.