Twofish's Blog

July 21, 2006

Basic conflict of interest at University of Phoenix

Filed under: academia, university of phoenix — twofish @ 5:38 pm

Let me tell you about a fundamental conflict of interest at UoP. I’m not bashing UoP since all human institutions have some interest conflicts.

UoP issues MBA’s. UoP issues good MBA’s.

But suppose there was a class or a forum that makes you think deeply about whether or not you really want an MBA. Maybe after you think about it, you figure out that you really don’t need an MBA. Maybe after you think about it, you figure out that you really don’t want an MBA. Maybe after you think about it you come to the conclusion that you will get your MBA (or physics Ph.D.) and then change the system so that people won’t have to put up with the nonsense you did. Maybe you figure out that society puts too much premium on MBA’s and there should be fewer MBA’s.

UoP loses money. It’s not in UoP’s financial interest to have you question the value of their MBA or *any* MBA, and asking scary questions gets you scary answers, but I think the purpose of the academy really is to get people to ask the tough and scary questions.

Does society put too much value on an MBA? Are employers in general, idiots? Is this the right way to run the economy? Why do I *really* want an MBA? Money? Power? Love? When do I stop? How much is too much?

So there is a conflict of interest that makes it difficult for UoP to encourage you to ask that question. It’s not in UoP’s interest for students to ask if they are paying too much, or for teachers to ask if they are not getting paid enough.

But maybe you can.  It’s also not in UoP’s interests to get people to talk about this issue.  You probably can’t do much on your own, but if you talk to people and find that say millions of people think that employers are ideas and the economic system is broken, then you start having more options to do stuff.

Again, you might not be able to do anything about it, but you can at least not like it.

(One conclusion that I’ve made is that the fact that people don’t have multiple sources of income or there own independent sources is a bad thing power wise.  I can say what I think about UoP because I don’t work there any more, and even when I did I wasn’t financially dependent on them.  One thing that I’m trying to do is to diversify as much as possible sources of income, and to think about the impact of employment on the ability to speak freely.)

This isn’t to bash UoP. UoP’s interest may be different from yours or may not be. My interests may or may not be different from yours.

The only person that can decide what your interests are and whether something fits or not is you, and I think that the purpose of academia is to help people make these sorts of decisions, which also fits my personal financial interest for creating a demand for professors 🙂 🙂 🙂

But I just want you to realize that the conflict of interest is there, so that you can make intelligent decisions on what to do about it.

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