Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Building linkages with the proprietary sector?

A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting at the American Enterprise Institute titled "AEI Forum on Higher Education."  From the invitation, it was a little unclear what the focus of the meeting was going to be.  But given that it was being sponsored by AEI, my assumption was that it was going to revolve around something to do with markets and market forces in higher education, given AEI's fairly conservative orientation.  My first thought was, "Are you sure you want me there?", but I figured it could make for an interesting event so I agreed to attend.

The meeting did, in fact, focus on markets in the sense that there was a heavy does of proprietary sector institutions and other companies represented.  It was a small group of people, only about 25 or so, including (I believe) just five of us "traditional" academics.  We've been asked not to divulge the details of what was discussed at the meeting, as it was designed to create an open dialogue between the participants, and make some connections between those of us on the traditional (i.e., public or not-for-profit institutions) and for-profit sides.

What I can say was that it was interesting hearing people from the proprietaries talking in detail about some of what goes on in their institutions.  I've read quite a bit about this sector, and have heard bits and pieces at conferences, but not to this level of detail before.  I've also written some about my interactions with this sector.before.  The meeting also included representatives from companies that were not direct postsecondary providers, like some of the institutions whose logos I included at the top of this post.  These other companies provide a variety of services to both for-profit and not-for-profit institutions alike. 

Part of AEI's agenda for the meeting was tto spur more research on the new providers in higher education.  It's unclear yet where this will go, but there is at least one lead I am following up on with one company. Stay tuned for more details.

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