For-Profit Colleges Are Projected to Sharply Increase Their Share of Adult Students

June 14, 2010

For-profit universities will have 42 percent of the adult-undergraduate market by 2019, nearly doubling their current share, according to a new study by the consulting company Eduventures.

Last year approximately one-quarter of all adult undergraduates were enrolled at for-profit universities. The study projects that, in the next 10 years, for-profit institutions will increase their share of the adult market by 14 percentage points.

By that time, for-profits will lead both public and private universities in the number of adults enrolled. They will have approximately 60,000 more adult students than will publics, and 800,000 more than privates.

(Currently, the for-profit sector educates about 7 percent of the nation's roughly 19 million students who enroll at degree-granting institutions each fall, The Chronicle reported recently.)

Richard Garrett, a managing director at Eduventures, credited for-profit universities with uncovering new markets for adult education, including the offering of online courses.

He predicted that online education, in which for-profit universities are "vastly overrepresented," will become the norm for adults seeking bachelor's degrees.

"The two have enabled each other very strongly," said Mr. Garrett. "Online is gaining more momentum in terms of respectability."

Copies of the report are available to Eduventures clients.