In an effort to expand its online offerings, the University of Arizona (UA) has agreed to purchase the fully-online, for-profit college Ashford University — but two U.S. senators are concerned that UA is risking becoming the owner of a predatory institution, reports tuscon.com.
“Without clear protections for students built into this transaction by UA, its accreditors and the Department of Education, Arizona taxpayers risk becoming owners of a predatory for-profit college cloaked in the aura of your prestigious university,” wrote Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, in a letter to UA President Robert Robbins.
UA is purchasing the university for $1 but will share 19.5% of its tuition revenue with Zovio, the publicly traded parent company of Ashford University. Zovio will pay the university $225 million over the course of 15 years as part of a long-term strategic services agreement.
In acquiring Ashford University, home to 35,000 students, the University of Arizona plans to create a fully-online, nonprofit entity called the University of Arizona Global Campus. The new entity will be accredited separately from UA and will maintain its own leadership, faculty members and academic programs.