For-Profit Will Partner With Community College

March 24, 2010

handshakeA new program will enable community college students to pursue fast-track allied health degrees through a for-profit institution--but it will cost students more.

The Princeton Review will be offering programs in general health science, medical information and coding and massage therapy at Bristol Community College in southeastern Massachusetts this fall. Eventually, it plans to add courses in nursing and radiologic technology.

"Many community colleges have long waiting lists for programs in the healthcare fields and they don't have capacity to meet this current demand," explained Michael Perik, president and CEO of the Princeton Review, who was quoted in Inside Higher Ed. "The idea was simple. If we provided capital and marketing and distance learning assistance to a college, could they attract people to a fast-track type program where students can get off the waiting list immediately and graduate in two years? The only catch is that they have to pay a slightly differentiated tuition."

Like many community colleges, BCC is struggling with record enrollment, particularly in healthcare fields. The Herald News reports that according to Jack Sbrega, the school's president, almost 1,000 people applied for 72 nursing positions last year.

"We're the bottleneck," Sbrega said, "and I'm embarrassed to say that."

The Princeton Review will spend about $2 million in the first year on hiring instructors, developing online education and creating additional space. Courses will be a mixture of online and in-person education.

Perik noted that Massachusetts will need 114,000 healthcare workers in the next four years, and the state is only able to train 25,000 because of limited capacity.

What we are doing here today is one very significant large step towards filling that gap," he was quoted as saying in, "and it will make a lot of people's lives better.

But some have concerns about the new program. Joe LeBlanc, president of the Massachusetts Community College Council, told Inside Higher Ed that the idea "strikes me as unfair--for other student to be going to a public college and jumping to the front of the line because they're paying more. . . . We really need to pause and take stock of what we're thinking about doing here."

The Princeton Review plans to launch similar programs with community colleges in Massachusetts and four other states if the program proves to be successful.

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