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University of Phoenix Closing 115 Locations

The University of Phoenix will close 115 locations before the end of 2013, including 25 main campuses and 90 smaller satellite learning and student resource centers.

The closings will directly affect about 13,000 students, approximately 4 percent of the 328,000 students enrolled in degree programs at the university. Around 800 of the university's 17,000 employees, excluding faculty, will lose their jobs.

The university will preserve 112 locations in 36 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and students affected by the closures will be have the option of continuing their education with the University of Phoenix, "either online, through alternative on-ground arrangements, or, in limited cases, at existing University of Phoenix locations," according to a statement from Apollo Group, which owns the university.

The closures are expected to save the company at least $300 million over the next two years. More than half of those cost savings are expected in 2013, with the remainder in the following year. The closures will cost about $175 million in restructuring and other charges, primarily for lease exit and related costs, and another $25 million related to workforce reductions.

The closures were brought on by declining enrollments in the past two years due to increasing competition from other online postsecondary education providers, including nonprofit and public universities, as well as negative publicity about recruiting abuses, low graduation rates, and high default rates, according to numerous reports.

In an effort to improve graduation rates, the university had offered a free three-week orientation program to help ensure that students who enrolled had a reasonable likelihood of completing their degree, but Mark Brenner, senior vice president of communications for the Apollo Group told The New York Times that about 20 percent of people in the orientation program either didn't complete it or didn't enroll in the university.

To help boost sagging enrollment, the university last week announced a tuition freeze for all new and currently enrolled students, as long as they meet eligibility requirements and remain consistently enrolled.

The university is notifying students affected by the closures, and a hotline is available at 866-992-3302 to answer questions.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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