Thunderbird, as an answer to the petition, makes it clear that the college will remain a non-profit group as it was all these years being founded after the World War II. They say that the partnership will aid in creating foreign campuses and to expand the online learning programmes of the school for the various professionals as well as to include bachelor degree courses in the college.
A report on the for-profit higher education firms in America was issued last year by the Senate Committee which explains the qualms about the deal. In the report, it was mentioned that the institutions which signs deal like this, got around $32 billion for student aid from the American government in the year 2009-10. These institutions were found to be charging a lot from the students for their higher education degree but actually spend lesser on their teaching. Hence, student drop-out rates were sky high. In the academic year of 2008-09, the average groups of student lasted for four months only.
Laureate has already signed similar deals with Liverpool University in UK and runs its online programmes. Also, it has opened campuses for the same university in China which now has a number of enrolments every quarter. Around the globe, Laureate is in partnership with 70 different educational institutions and has 800,000 learners enrolled in their campuses. Many campuses are under construction and out of them 11 are about to be in Brazil where they are aiming to smash the pallid state-run competitors and will widen the learners’ access to higher education. Due to this reason, the International Finance Corporation invested around $150m in the shares of Laureate in January’13.
Like many other colleges in America, Thunderbird is also short of funds. It is experiencing a downfall in the enrolment of students in its full-time MBA programme which costs $67,000. To see the graph, around 1000 students used to get enrolled in this course in the year 2011, but now it has decreased to just 142 per year. Although the schools wealthiest alumnus still donates fund for the college, which was around $60m in 2004, now, the donation fund is just $27m.
For Thunderbird, the deal with Laureate is expected to rectify these loopholes within a few weeks and good days will return again. As return to the new revenues earned for the shares it will have with Laureate, Thunderbird will include them in the board of members, although they will not have any say regarding the academic matters.
Larry Penley, the President of Thunderbird, has already been to many places to persuade the alumni of the school and to tell them that the deal is a useful one. He believes that he got positive answers from his ex-students. On the other hand, Ben Piper, the alumnus who actually made the petition against the deal, has become more stubborn. The school even asked its lawyer to talk to Ben as he is seemingly breaching the copyright of the school by using the name of the school and its logo for the campaign rallies.
Nevertheless, no matter whether the students like the deal or not, the partnership can prove to be useful for the future. But students doubt against the for-profit university has led in limiting the enrolments as well. However, Laureate biggest American partner, the Walden University in Minnesota, have already spent around $1,574 per learner on their teaching in the year 2009-10. It also spent $2,230 per learner on marketing and has a recorded profit of $101m.
Laureate is constantly looking for more American partners. However, winning over the ex students and the present learners of Thunderbird might be a bit hard for them.