Your recent editorial questioning the value of private sector colleges and universities (Predatory U? For-profit colleges and universities have a lot of explaining to do, February 20, 2011), is wrong on a number of levels.
First, private sector colleges and universities primarily educate working adults and lower-income students. Traditional higher education does not. Our students range from single moms and working students to returning veterans and the unemployed, who need new skills to find work. Frankly, without our schools millions of Americans risk being left behind in gaining the new skills they need for better jobs.
Second, the Education Trust report you cite unfairly criticizes for profit colleges and devalues the commitment of our students. Comparing private sector colleges and universities to other types of institutions does not consider the large percentages of high-risk students we serve. When the graduation rates of similarly situated students are compared, the results favor private sector colleges and universities. The Education Trust also concedes that graduation rates at two-year career colleges are better than those of community colleges.
And last, our programs work. At two-year private sector colleges and universities, the graduation rate for African-Americans students is nearly 49 percent and for Hispanic/Latino students, nearly 64 percent, much higher than graduation rates of 15 and 17 percent respectively at community colleges. On a percentage basis, our schools award twice as many bachelor’s degrees to minority students as do traditional four-year colleges. And last year alone, 11 percent of all nursing awards and 58 percent of awards in allied health programs were earned at private sector colleges and universities. Of course, we want our students to succeed, and we are concerned about rising default rates. But the so-called “gainful employment” regulations target for-profit schools only, rather than considering the entire higher education sector. With appropriate regulatory oversight that treats all higher education institutions equally, our schools will continue to provide opportunities to millions of students across the country.
Harris N. Miller
President and CEO
Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities
Regarding The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Predatory U? For-profit colleges and universities have a lot of explaining to do By The Editorial Board; Posted: February 20, 2011