Historian Johan Neem, an expert on civil society in early America, argues that for-profit colleges are “challenging a centuries-old practice of separating philanthropy from business.” Colleges and universities, as public and non-profit organizations, Neem writes, “become corrupted when profit becomes their goal rather than a means to fulfilling their mission.” Here is a further taste of Neem’s piece at Inside Higher Ed:
For-profits must be regulated as businesses. They are not charities, despite being subsidized heavily by public student loan dollars. In reality, in return for these public subsidies, for-profits should live by the same rules as other nonprofits. They should make the common good their primary goal and reinvest all revenue to fulfill their mission. They will not, however, because, as Kevin Kinser argues in From Main Street to Wall Street, they exist to generate wealth for investors and shareholders. As recent scandals have made clear, for-profit institutions in higher education, like other Wall Street businesses, too often put their bottom line ahead of the common good.