The University of Phoenix is on track to operate only one physical location sometime in 2024, as the private, for-profit college shifts to an almost exclusively online format.
Whether all the campuses close by then will depend on how many students choose to finish their courses in-person, university spokesperson Andrea Smiley told EdScoop.
Smiley said the private, for-profit school has phased out six campuses since last June, when its leadership decided to go nearly all-virtual. Campuses halt operations once all students have moved online or completed the necessary in-person coursework to finish their degrees.
The timeline for finishing the “teach out” by 2024 depends on how many students need to be physically present, Smiley said. About 97% of University of Phoenix students choose to take courses online, she said, so the action is “driven by the preference of our students.”
“It’s not super-surprising considering that we predominantly serve adults 35 and older,” Smiley said. “They’re working full-time, they tend to have dependents — we predominantly serve women. And so online learning, it’s just more convenient.”
There are 15 in-person locations left, in California, Nevada and Arizona, Smiley said. The university plans to keep its Phoenix location open for students who need to complete residencies or in-person components of doctoral programs. The Phoenix location also serves as a meeting space for its otherwise remote workforce.
“We have always had a very strong and large online presence, even when we had many more physical campuses,” Smiley said. “It’s going to not be much of a change in [the student] experience. We have a very robust online suite of support services for our students — they’re available 24/7.”
The University of Phoenix most recently reported 83,800 enrolled students for 2020, down from 87,400 reported for 2019. The university has not yet released its 2021 academic year report. For-profit institutions in general saw enrollment drop in fall 2021, after seeing a 5% increase for Fall 2020, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.