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PHOENIX -- The University of Phoenix is joining forces with community colleges across the country, including Maricopa Community Colleges, in an effort to boost enrollment.

Along with hopes for improved enrollment, the move is expected to put more people into the workforce quicker.

The partnership will funnel community college graduates with associate degrees to the for-profit University of Phoenix for bachelor degree programs.

"Americans want to make sure they can complete associate degrees at a community college and then seamlessly take those credits into a bachelor's program," said University of Phoenix spokesman Ryan Rauzon.

The University of Phoenix is the largest private university in North America despite an dropoff from almost a half-million students to about 330,000. Several campuses have been closed. Online competition with other schools is fierce.

Rauzon is aware of the perception that the move will be viewed as a means for the university to generate profit.

"The reality is that if we as higher education institutions don't come together to produce more graduates we will never get the workforce of what employers are actually needing," he said.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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