The University of Phoenix, a leading for-profit institution of higher learning in the United States, has announced that it will launch a school aimed to provide ongoing education to adults and executives who may not necessarily be looking at a degree, but want to acquire added skills and expertise that could facilitate professional growth, enable them to remain competitive and relevant, or lead to industry certification.

A release from the parent company Apollo Group mentions that the University will start offering these courses through the new school in 2011. Individual courses and certificate programs are expected to be offered both online and at campus locations and will be available year-round.  Programs will focus on trends and skills that are central to the country's strongest and fastest-growing industries, and will include intensive coursework in business, information technology, marketing, healthcare and continuing teacher education.  The University currently offers its courses at more than 200 locations, as well as through online programs available in many countries around the world. 

For-profit education in the United States has been at the heart of a raging controversy in recent times with several questions raised on its ethics and effectiveness in grooming employable individuals for the workforce. Earlier this week, the Apollo Group admitted that new student enrollment fell by 42 percent in the three months that ended Dec. 30.

The University had, in fact, warned that the figures would fall by 40 percent in the first fiscal quarter because of new steps that it was initiating to increase the quality of its student base - such as giving students the option to survey the courses and services offered by the University and gauge their fit before enrolling. Measures such as these could lead to further steep declines over the rest of the year to come.

However, given the current challenging employment scenario, it is expected that executives and working professionals would constantly strive to find ways to gain a competitive edge and thus programs such as those that the new school will offer may give a boost to enrolment to some extent.