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Idaho Senate rejects bill to restructure planned University of Phoenix acquisition

Idaho Senate rejects bill to restructure planned University of Phoenix acquisition

Higher Ed Dive

Lilah Burke
March 28, 2024
Dive Brief:
  • The Idaho Senate killed a bill Wednesday that would have restructured the University of Idaho’s planned purchase of the University of Phoenix to provide a legislative path forward.
  • The bill, which failed on a 19-14 vote, would have created an independent state body to acquire the University of Phoenix. The proposal intended to shield the state from the for-profit university’s potential liabilities and give lawmakers more oversight of the institution.
  • The proposal died only a few days after it was introduced. The bill’s demise adds yet another roadblock to the deal, which has been criticized by both lawmakers and student advocates.
Dive Insight:
Idaho Sen. Chuck Winder, a Republican, sponsored the bill to clear a path for the deal after it faced recent legislative pushback and legal threats. The two institutions face a looming deadline. If the deal is not completed before May 31, either party can back out freely, Idaho Education News reported.
A spokesperson for the University of Idaho said via email Thursday that officials are disappointed with the vote and are “reviewing their options.”
In May, the Idaho State Board of Education approved the University of Idaho’s bid to create a nonprofit corporation to acquire University of Phoenix for $550 million. The University of Idaho planned to finance the deal by issuing $685 million in bonds.
But just last month, legal counsel for the Idaho Legislature argued the state board lacks the authority to acquire a private institution through a nonprofit corporation.
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