University of Phoenix, for-profit institution of higher learning based in Phonex, Arizona, that offers classes primarily online, though it also has campuses and learning centres. The largest university of its kind in the United States, it spurred the rise of for-profit postsecondary schools in the late 1990s. The University of Phoenix was founded as a brick-and-mortar institution in 1976 by John Sperling, who sought to makehisgher education more accessible to working adult students. To that end, hestipulated that enrollees be at least 23 years old and have both work experience and some collegecredit; the university eventually changed its requirements to allow anyone with a high-school diploma or equivalent to attend. After a lacklustre start—it had only eight students when classes were first held in 1977—Phoenix was accredited in 1978, and two years later it opened a campus in San Jose, California. In 1989 Phoenix began offering an online program, which became the school’s main focus.After 2010 the university saw its enrollment steadily decline, dropping to some 200,000 students in 2015, and during that same period it reduced its locations to approximately 100 campuses in the United States and Puerto Rico. In 2015 the Federal trade Commission began investigating the school for deceptive business and marketing practices. This was followed by a further decrease in enrollment, resulting in the university having fewer than 140,000 students in 2017, the same year that the sale of Apollo Education Group, Inc., to a private investment group was finalized.
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