International University of Nursing, St. Kitts
Time magazine once called him a modern day Marco Polo. He also founded Ross University School of Medicine and sold all his interest in 2003 for nine figures. Today, at age 91, Robert Ross owns and operates several businesses, two of which are colleges.
What simple fact launched you on a recent entrepreneurial venture in higher education?
In 2005 147,000 applicants to baccaluareate nursing schools were denied admission for lack of space. The U.S. Department of Labor had already projected a shortage of more than 1 million U.S. nurses. So I founded International University of Nursing. Then in 2008 I launched University of Medicine and Health Sciences, St. Kitts, because of a projected shortage of 100,000 medical doctors in the U.S.
Can you discuss a milestone or two on the IUON venture?
Yes. One of the 1,500 pages of the Higher Education Act's 2008 reauthorization conferred financial aid eligibility in July 2010 on students of any international nursing college with a pass rate of 75 percent on the NCLEX exam if the school is affiliated with an accredited U.S. college or university. IUON is affiliated with Purdue University and University of Colorado. Our NCLEX exam pass rates hover around 90 percent. Our students in St. Kitts attend the only foreign nursing school in the world that meets those requirements.
How many students are enrolled today, and what are they paying?
Tuition is $6,000 per semester, and we have three semesters per year. The bachelor's degree requires eight semesters, and IUON's enrollment is 500. Many of them use private loans. After July 2010 we expect to be a direct lending school for GradPLUS and Stafford loans and issuing Pell grants.
How many graduates has IUON produced, and where are they working?
We've graduated about 200, and they're working throughout the United States. The average salary range for a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree is $60,000 to $75,000.
How long did you operate Ross University of Medicine and to what success?
I founded Ross University in 1979. When I sold all my interest in 2003, the school had graduated 7,000 doctors.
Is a college education a pre-requisite for a young person to achieve success as an entrepreneur today?
Hard work is crucial. College attendance is not. Imagination is very important. A college degree, even an MBA, is helpful, but not necessary.
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