University of Phoenix predicts all but one in-person location will close by 2024

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.”

The process of “teaching out” some physical locations began as early as 2016, Smiley said. The university’s owner, the Apollo Education Group, shuttered more than 100 locations in 2012.

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.

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