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UAGC Financials Confirm Falling Enrollments and Revenue
It has taken some time, but I now have access to recent University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC) financials and enrollments based on a report in early May for the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee (SPBAC) at the University of Arizona. As with my handling of the financials from Purdue Global, I think it is important that people in the higher education community have access to this information since other schools are considering similar options – whether to acquire or partner with an existing institution that already has a large online population as a method to kick start the traditional university’s online efforts. It is crucial that institution leaders have an accurate understanding of the experiences of Purdue Global and UAGC, rather than marketing claims, to better inform their decisions.
Enrollment and Net Revenue
There is a lot of information in the SPBAC update, but for this first post I’ll focus on the big picture of enrollment and net revenue. To improve accessibility, I’ve taken data from three different tables in the report and combined into new spreadsheets.
At the time of the completion of the UAGC / Ashford deal in late 2020, university officials presented three estimates in their financial model – a bear case, a base case, and a bull case. For FY2022:
What the financials confirm (and I have long suspected) is that these expectations were wildly optimistic. Even the bear case.
The fiscal year starts on July 1st, and the data for FY2018 through the first 5 months of FY2021 are for Ashford University under the ownership of Zovio. For the last 7 months of FY2021 and beyond, the data are for UAGC under the ownership of the University of Arizona with Zovio acting as OPM.
The FY2023 Working Budget seems to be the best guess budget as of May 4, 2022, and not the original budget for FY2023.
Net Revenue includes listed revenue minus scholarships, grants, and discounts.
The Net Revenue per Student has been fairly stable, going down approximately 5% in the past five years.
The current budget shows Enrollment decreasing approximately 31% in the past five years and Net Revenue decreasing 34% in that same period.
Note that estimates are for Enrollment to drop just 3% and Net Revenue to decrease less than 1% in the next fiscal year, with Net Revenue per Student actually increasing 2%. This seems very optimistic given UAGC’s history, and in particular based on the document showing that New Student Enrollments are 17% below budget, with the statement “new student enrollment target is not being hit” added.
More to Come
What we see in the UAGC financials is a picture of enrollments and revenues far below the numbers estimated in 2020 but with an optimistic improvement for FY2023. While I don’t have time or space here to describe fully, UAGC has been aggressively cutting expenses as well as leveraging the Zovio contract terms that limit payments based on falling enrollment, such that the Net Income numbers are not nearly as problematic. But we’ll save that analysis for a future post.
I attempted to contact UAGC for comment ahead of posting, but the email address listed on the website does not work. For the media folks there, feel free to send me a note, and I can include any response you have in a future post.
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