University of Arizona expands online learning access through new nonprofit

UA acquires Ashford University

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Today, the University of Arizona announced its intention to create a new nonprofit entity — University of Arizona Global Campus — and acquire the assets of Ashford University.

University of Arizona Global Campus will be a fully online university, providing access to affordable high-quality higher education with flexible opportunities to students from diverse backgrounds around the world who seek to achieve their educational and life goals.

“COVID-19 has never made this more important than now, the ability to reach students wherever they are,” said Brent White, UA Vice Provost for Global Affairs.

As student populations turn increasingly to online platforms for higher education, University of Arizona Global Campus will meet students wherever they are in their educational journeys. University of Arizona Global Campus will focus on serving underrepresented and nontraditional students, including veterans and those who work or parent full time and who are in need of flexible pathways to advance their education or to learn new skills.

“As students look for new avenues to attain higher education, the accessibility and innovative approach of University of Arizona Global Campus will help a new generation of students find success,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “By establishing University of Arizona Global Campus, the University of Arizona will greatly expand its reach and live up to its responsibility as a land-grant university to provide access to quality education, will enhance our Arizona Online platform, will further diversify our educational enterprise and will provide much-needed short and long-term revenue.”

The University of Arizona plans to take immediate steps to commence the final approval process with WSCUC, Ashford's accreditor, which is needed to formally operate University of Arizona Global Campus. Ashford University's faculty and approximately 35,000 students will continue coursework and degree programs with no interruptions or delays.

In a written statement, a spokesperson for Zovio said, “We believe the conversion and separation of Ashford University is clearly in the best interests of Ashford students, faculty, staff and alumni to return to the historical nonprofit status the institution held in 2005, while at the same time, allowing Zovio to pursue diversified growth providing technology and services to other institutions, corporations and learners.”

Students on University of Arizona’s main campus will not be impacted by the acquisition, but Global Campus students will have the opportunity to experience some of the Tucson campus.

“We anticipate, long-term, a great deal that we can learn from Global Campus from the University of Arizona,” said White.

Ashford University is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission and is currently owned by Zovio, an education technology services company based in Chandler, Arizona. The University of Arizona signed a definitive agreement with Zovio, which includes the sale of the assets of Ashford University to University of Arizona Global Campus. Zovio will continue to provide its education technology services under a long-term Strategic Services Agreement. The acquisition costs UA just one dollar, but Global Campus is guaranteed a 15-year income stream of $225 million. The University of Arizona and Global Campus will enter into an affiliate agreement, which will help the UA with revenue loss. The University said they anticipate to use the initial earnings to help balance the budget. Zovio will get about 20 percent of the annual tuition revenue during the 15 year partnership.

According to reporting by the Associated Press, Ashford University is currently being sued by the California Attorney General for allegedly peddling “falso promises and faulty information” to get more students eligible for financial aid attending the school. A trial is set in 2021.

Zovio said in a statement to KOLD “Ashford never intentionally or systematically misled students, falsely advertised its programs, or made misleading statements to investors.”

“We believe that the Ashford University team has sought to address concerns that have been raised,” said White.

University of Arizona to expand online offerings via new Global Campus - Statement from ABOR Chair Larry E. Penley

“The challenges facing public higher education are arguably steeper now than at any point in decades. Universities must adapt quickly in the face of a pandemic that touched every aspect of these institutions, innovate to provide instruction that meets students wherever they are, and think entrepreneurially to meet changing market expectations,” said ABOR Chair, Larry E. Penley. “With today’s announcement, University of Arizona President Robbins has demonstrated he is thinking big. This partnership by the University of Arizona and its subsequent launch of the University of Arizona Global Campus further empowers the university’s land-grant mission of providing educational opportunity and access to a broader and more diverse population of students.”

You can read the full statement here.

For more information, visit http://globalcampus.arizona.edu.

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