Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of International Higher Education Systems and Institutions

pp 1-7

Date: Latest Version

For-Profit Higher Education

  • Kevin KinserAffiliated withEducation Policy Studies, Pennsylvania State University Email author 
  • , Dante J. SaltoAffiliated withInstituto de Humanidades (IDH) – Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas / Universidad Nacional de Córdoba


Proprietary higher education


For-profit higher education includes private institutions that are controlled by individuals, companies, venture capitalists or publicly-traded corporations. This is in contrast to private nonprofit higher education where ownership is invested in a charitable foundation, board, or religious entity. Excess revenue generated by for-profit institutions can be distributed to owners and shareholders, or invested in activities outside of the education sphere.


For-profit higher education is a relatively new form of private higher education worldwide. Its introduction to higher education systems has generated controversies, in many cases resembling the debates over nonprofit higher education caused when the private sector was introduced in countries where public higher education dominated the scene. Although many countries have moved toward legally allowing for-profits, they are still a minority, and there is a lack of information on fun ...

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