Thursday, October 28, 2010
The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) issued the following statement in response to new regulations released by the US Department of Education:
“We commend the Department of Education for taking a pragmatic approach to the issue of the Department’s preapproval of new programs in the final rule compared to the unworkable approach in the proposed rule. Concerns that have been raised by our sector and others in higher education have been heard and addressed in a manner that puts students first. The net effect of the original language would have significantly delayed or denied the introduction of new programs, costing students opportunities and institutions the ability to move quickly to meet employer demands for skills. We look forward to working with the Department as it moves to the critical next stage of considering whether or not it makes sense to use a specific gainful employment metric to judge institutional quality and, if so, the appropriate metric.”
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
This is not an attack on community colleges. Every one who is familiar with the current higher education landscape recognizes in order to reach President Obama's 2020 goal of making the U.S. number one in the world again in terms of citizens with a college degree all parts of higher education are needed. What we care about is making sure one sector isn't unfairly attacked, that students have educational choice and that the facts about the for-profit higher education sector are presented accurately. Ultimately, what works best for the student is the option that best fits their needs, but in order to make an informed decision they need all of the options.
Today the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that community colleges are under deep financial strain and if present conditions persist, tuition will rise, capacity will not be able to be augmented and America will not meet President Obama's 2020 objective:
The recession has hit community colleges hard, and the sector's financial fortunes are unlikely to improve soon, according to a report on a new survey of state community-college directors.
Enrollment numbers are expected to grow while state operating dollars will continue to be scarce, the survey found.
The report, "Uncertain Recovery: Access and Funding Issues in Public Higher Education," is being released today by the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama.
A majority of the state directors who responded to the survey said they have not planned for the end of the federal stimulus money that has been used to avert state budget cuts to education. As a consequence, tuition is expected to continue to increase as state budgets are cut and create access problems for students.
More broadly, the financial strain threatens to undermine President Obama's college-completion agenda, the survey found. The president wants to greatly increase the number of Americans with college degrees by 2020 so the United States can once again be atop the world in the proportion of residents with postsecondary degrees or certificates.The President's goal is laudable, but the numbers are troubling. Without PSCUs, America cannot reach this goal.
Posted by APSCU User at 6:06 PM
You've heard it before from critics of PSCUs. Our colleges should be repudiated and even more heavily regulated because, critics claims, we don't graduate students and when we do, we can't place them in jobs. Despite the sector having a clear track record of success, detractors just can't seem to let go of the patently false meme. There are numerous success stories readily available to anyone who has five minutes to do a Google search, but the distortions continue.
That's why it's a welcome change to see Lanny Davis set the record straight about this particular issue in The Huffington Post:
Inferior Job Placement - Critics assert that for-profit schools have dismal graduation and job placement rates, leaving students with large debts and bleak earnings potential, as compared to private not-for-profits and public colleges.
Actual fact - For-profit college graduation rates at two year institutions exceed 55 percent, significantly higher than those at community colleges. Yet no mention was made of that fact during the much-touted White House meeting focusing just on community colleges, which totally omitted any reference to for-profit colleges and the predominantly low-income and minority students they serve. For-profit schools have produced millions of success stories, helping students prepare for and find new jobs, advance their careers and earn higher pay. Graduates find jobs in a wide range of high-demand professions as nurses and health care aides, computer professionals and programmers, chefs and retail managers, solar and wind energy technicians. If Senator Harkin wanted to hold 10 hearings, he could fill the HELP Committee panels with real people telling those real success stories. Instead, not one single career college student was allowed to appear to tell a single success story at a single HELP Committee hearing on this issue.
Posted by APSCU User at 5:46 PM
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
As the Department of Education furthers the process of potentially implementing the controversial "Gainful Employment" proposal, it's important to consider what's at stake. As APSCU has said many times, the Department's proposal could cut off financial aid to students who have no familial assistance, close programs in areas or states where there are already skills shortages and reduce access to higher education for minority students and women. Under no circumstances is this an idea that should move forward until much more time and examination can be given to its implications.
That's why it's encouraging to hear others agree, especially when they came to those conclusions independently of APSCU. Here's Progressive Fix:
Mandel argues that in an uncertain economic environment like the one we are currently facing, it’s really hard to make specific rules about debt-to-income ratios or to predict in what sectors there is going to be demand for employment even a few years down the line. (Mandel shows how poorly the Bureau of Labor Statistics “hot job” list has predicted the future in recent years.)
Mandel also worries that too much focus on debt-to-income ratios is going to disproportionately hurt those students who most need education – poorer students from hard-hit states who don’t look like a great investment given the formulas drawn up by the DOE guidelines, but need the most help if they are going get the training they need to be part of any economic recovery.
The big point is that given the current economic uncertainty, you want institutions that are capable of reacting quickly to market demand for training and skills-acquisition. And while there are obviously needed reforms to prevent for-profit colleges from taking advantage of students and student loan programs, too many rules and regulations are going to make it difficult if not impossible for for-profit colleges to respond quickly to market needs for skills.Gainful Employment must not be implemented. Our nation's educational future is at stake.
Posted by APSCU User at 5:55 PM
Monday, October 25, 2010
In a screed short on facts and published on The Huffington Post, writer Ben Mangan unfairly smears for-profit colleges. Despite the valuable mission and myriad accomplishments of career colleges—which are the fastest-growing sector of higher education, boast a clear record of graduate success and are a key part of a comprehensive effort to equip Americans with the education and skills to compete in a 21st century economy--Mangan repeats tired, debunked myths in a lazy narrative.
Contrary to his utterly baseless assertions, for-profit education isn’t failing America. In fact, private sector colleges and universities (PSCUs) are integral to ensuring Americans-- particularly non-traditional adult learners, minorities, women and low- income students – have access to higher education.
Mr. Mangan fails to get even the smallest details correct. Private sector colleges and universities (PSCUs), or for-profit colleges, do not receive direct subsidies from the federal government. Students receive financial aid directly and elect where to spend that money. The fact that so many students choose to attend PSCUs is proof they’re finding the degrees that these schools offer valuable.
Students at PSCUs do receive enough federal aid to meet their considerable financial needs, but that amount is a function of lack of resources. PSCU students require more federal assistance because they are financially independent. Many do not have family support systems to help with tuition or other costs of living. Without the federal government, these students would be locked out of higher education in America. With an already troubling inequality gap between those from high-income and low-income families in America in terms of average expected earnings and educational attainment, Mangan’s recommendations for change would only further exacerbate a serious social problem.
If Mangan is concerned about students not completing their course of study, he should direct his attention to community colleges, which cannot boast the same graduation success rate as PSCUs. As noted in the Wall Street Journal, PSCUs often have graduation rates above 50%--on par with state-supported traditional universities.
PSCUs are no train wreck. In fact, they’re the paths to success for millions of Americans seeking higher education as a means to improve their quality of life. The only train wreck we can envision is a future where we undermine a critically important sector of higher education, creating further inequality for the disadvantaged and reducing the nation’s economic competitiveness, by heeding the suggestions of the uninformed and out- of-touch.
Photo credit: Alain McLaughlin, Vassar.edu
Posted by APSCU User at 6:01 PM
Dario A. Cortes, Ph.D., president of Berkeley College, gets to the heart of the matter:
At its core, this is an issue of favoritism. But heading down this road could also be an operational and financial nightmare for the nation. Community colleges are now at their maximum capacity. Without significant, new financial resources — like the $12 billion the president has asked for but Congress is hesitant to approve — community colleges will not be able to accommodate this overflow of students from for-profit schools. The likely outcome will be that not every student who wants to go to college will be able to do so. From a financial perspective, it is far more economical for taxpayers to send five million more students to college using a combination of for-profit and not-for-profit schools. In fact, it’s estimated that it would cost $33 billion more without for-profit schools, because for-profit institution students normally pay for more of their education.
Lastly — but perhaps most important of all — there is the matter of student choice. If we are truly going to encourage five million more Americans to go to college, we can’t assume that one type of institution alone will meet the requirements of millions of students. We need a multitude of programs that afford students opportunities to sharpen existing skills and learn new ones. This week the White House celebrates the valuable contribution of the nation’s community colleges. It’s unfortunate that the celebration isn’t bigger to include the contributions of all institutions of higher learning. To reach this administration’s goal, we’re going to need public and private, for-profit and non-profit colleges to help lift the educational attainment level of deserving students from across the income and demographic spectrum.
Posted by APSCU User at 4:04 PM
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Posted by APSCU User at 4:14 PM
Posted by APSCU User at 3:43 PM
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Two members of the community college community argue in Insider Higher Ed that when it comes to meeting America's higher education needs - particularly as it relates to low-income, minority and other nontraditional students - one sector of higher education is not better than the other. Jonathan A. Kaplan, president of Walden University and Terry O’Banion, director of Walden's Community College Leadership doctoral program, believe for-profit higher education and community college should and do work collaboratively for similar ends:
However, community colleges cannot meet that goal alone. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, enrollment in the sector increased 16.9 percent in just two years, from fall 2007 to fall 2009, placing a heavy burden on these institutions. To produce more successful college graduates, we need every segment of the diverse higher education community to contribute. The American Council on Education recognizes that fact: “This collective diversity among institutions is one of the great strengths of America’s higher education system and has helped make it the best in the world. Preserving that diversity is essential if we hope to serve the needs of our democratic society.”
These diverse options are unlike those offered by any other nation and include small liberal arts colleges, community colleges, large public universities, online universities, for-profit schools and research institutions. Each sector serves a slightly different niche of students and provides quality programs leading to degrees ranging from an associate to a doctorate. And each will contribute significantly to achieving President Obama’s goal.
In light of this need to pull together, it is disheartening that some in Washington are working to stifle some educational alternatives, such as for-profit institutions. Like all other sectors of higher education, there are some for-profit schools that are not performing up to par academically. And that must be addressed in the form of good policy. That being said, painting the entire sector with too broad a brush may harm good actors that are quality for-profit schools. And no one can reasonably argue that those quality for-profit schools are not essential in helping us meet President Obama’s ambitious goals.
For-profit institutions play a critical role alongside their community college peers. Today’s community colleges and for-profit institutions are filled with students who, for one reason or another, cannot or will not attend a traditional four-year, brick-and-mortar institution. Both sectors provide working adults with educational options that allow them to attend college while working full time to support their families. The National Center for Education Statistics predicts that between now and 2017, the number of college students older than 25 will increase by 19 percent -- nearly twice the predicted growth rate of younger students.
Both sectors also share similar missions of giving underserved student populations -- including minorities, international students, and nontraditional learners -- greater access to quality higher education. And quality programs prepare graduates for successful careers.
Posted by APSCU User at 12:48 PM
Monday, October 4, 2010
For those who work in PSCUs, this is neither new nor a secret. However, it's also not going away. In a letter to the editor at USA Today, Tom Moore, president and CEO of Education Corporation of America, underscores this very real problem in response to an article by the paper that attempts to portray the unfair bias against national accreditation as little more than an issue of for-profit institutional quality:
The majority of national agencies that accredit degree-granting colleges enforce standards that are virtually identical to regional accreditation standards. The national and regional agencies are equally recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Two of the oldest national agencies, along with the regional agencies, also are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, an association of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities.
Many career colleges are nationally accredited and offer degree programs that provide the same curriculums as their regionally accredited counterparts, taught by faculty with the same credentials, using the same textbooks in a facility with the same (or even better) resources. Yet many regionally accredited institutions will not accept transfer credits from a nationally accredited institution because of the type of accreditation. These institutions should be forced to justify this policy on the basis of objective data and analysis.
U.S. News & World Report has the story:
As Washington considers a White House plan to produce 5 million more college-level associate degrees, former Clinton administration economist Robert Shapiro has produced a new report that shows for-profit schools end up costing taxpayers far less than public institutions. "There is a false perception that for-profit institutions cost American taxpayers significantly more money to educate students than their not-for-profit counterparts. In fact, the data show that the opposite is true," says the report commissioned by some of the biggest names in the for-profit education business including Kaplan and DeVry.
The study from Sonecon, a Washington consulting firm, is titled "The Public Costs of Higher Education: A Comparison of Public, Private Not-for-Profit, And Private For-Profit Institutions" It found that when all state and federal money to colleges is considered, taxpayers spend about 6.5 percent more to educate a student at a public four-year institution than at a four-year for-profit school. By showing the value of for-profit schools, the report might influence the move by the Department of Education to punish the schools for having high student loan default rates, a concern that has some in the department considering banning student loans to students of those schools.Read the report's executive summary here.