Question: Is the term "nonprofit university" an oxymoron?
In this context the word "nonprofit" is a technical term and should not be interpreted literally. For this reason, it's not an oxymoron.
Once a "for profit" business has paid off the costs of doing business, anything that's left over belongs to the owners of the business (which might be the shareholders in the case of a public company). Such a business has a profit motive in trying to bring in more money than it spends.
"Nonprofit" organizations also bring in money and spend money. But they don't have "owners" that benefit from bringing in more than is spent. Nonprofits will try to acquire extra money to put into an endowment for use in the future, either to expand the nonprofit or to help it survive economic difficulties. This is different from the personal profit motive that owners of a for-profit business have.
Click any of the links below to automatically search the given site for: Is the term "nonprofit university" an oxymoron?