DeVry University Transitioning Select Markets to Online Format


The Milwaukee campus of for-profit DeVry University, part of downtown Milwaukee since 1983, has announced that it will close its only Wisconsin location December 31 and will offer only online courses.

Karen Herzog, reporting for the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, writes that 247 graduate and undergraduate students will be affected by the change. The Milwaukee campus, which consists of a suite at 411 E. Wisconsin Ave., serves online course students, who make up half the enrollment, while 80% take both online courses and campus-based classes.

In January, students may complete their program through the university’s online courses, transfer to another DeVry University campus outside of Wisconsin, or transfer to a local college or university which offers a comparable program, said Melanie Wright, university spokeswoman. According to David Dies, executive secretary of the state Educational Approval Board, the regulation entity of for-profit universities in Wisconsin, the board wants DeVry to offer students who have just begun the program a full refund in the event they are not interested in other options.

Not only in Wisconsin, but in 11 cities across the country, DeVry is closing campuses, and several other campuses are set to be consolidated. In Milwaukee, the most popular program is the Keller Graduate School of Management, with 111 students involved in the program. When tightened admissions standards fell in place in response to federal government intervention, many for-profit colleges saw drops in enrollment.

DeVry Education Group, Inc. unveiled plans for the next phase of its turnaround plan for its DeVry University division as its earnings fell 15% during the quarter ending in March. The plans includes: fewer markets; spending on the strongest local markets and programs; improving its educational model; a focus on affordability; and a strengthening employer workforce solutions.

The Wall Street Journal’s Tess Stynes writes that 14 of the university locations will become online only. DeVry reports that total enrolled students rose 18% to 143,935, and new students were up 41% to 28,719 as a result of recent acquisitions. When recent acquisitions are excluded, total student enrollment rose 1.2% and new student enrollment increased 0.9%.

In response to enrollment numbers, the organization has cut costs by reducing workforce and eliminating some locations. At the same time, DeVry has expanded its international presence, with the latest additions comprised of several locations in Brazil.

DeVry’s announcement after reporting its third quarter earnings included plans for “relaunching its brand and re-positioning the institution for long-term growth,” explained the Chicago Business Journal. Katharine Grayson of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reported that students at the branch in Edina, Minnesota, have been offered a 20% discount for online classes.

A DeVry spokesperson said employees affected by the closures could be given opportunities to work at other locations.

DeVry is not alone, says Chris Morran of the Consumerist. Across the US, lawsuits, scandals, and shutdowns, along with students who have accumulated large student loan bills, have caused enrollment at for-profit colleges to shrink. One interesting exception is the surprising student growth in Brazil, where DeVry’s operations grew by 78% over the last year. Specifically, enrollment went from 33,000 students to almost 59,000. Brazil now has the largest percentage of DeVry’s 144,000 students among all its schools.