Britain Gains First For-Profit University

British authorities have granted the for-profit College of Law university status, and the soon-to-be renamed University of Law will be the country's first for-profit university, Times Higher Education reported. The institution trains 7,000 students annually in both undergraduate and graduate programs.

Layoffs and Campus Closures for Career Education Corp.

Career Education Corp. on Thursday announced that it would close 23 of 90 campuses and lay off 900 employees to cope with declining revenue and enrollment. The for-profit chain has been hit hard by what a company official called "new market realities," and has seen its total and new student numbers dip by roughly 22 percent compared to last year. It also reported an operating loss of $110 million for the year through October. The company is taking the "difficult step" of downsizing as part of a plan for a strategic turnaround as a "simplified and more nimble organization," said Steven H. Lesnik, its president and CEO, in a written statement. Career Education Corp. is also facing scrutiny from its accreditors.

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Education Department Questions Corinthian's Assets

The U.S. Department of Education is questioning the "financial responsibility" of Corinthian Colleges based on the department's interpretation of the for-profit's estimated intangible assets, according to a corporate filing. If not resolved, the matter could lead to Corinthian losing its eligibility to participate in federal financial aid programs. The company said in a statement that it disagrees with the department's revised take on its assets. Representatives from Corinthian and the department will meet soon to discuss the issue.

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Keiser U. Reaches Settlement With Florida

Keiser University has agreed to offer thousands of former students free retraining and has pledged that its admissions counselors and marketing materials will not misrepresent offerings, under an agreement with Florida's attorney general that was announced Wednesday, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. For the last two years, Florida officials have been investigating the recruiting and marketing practices of for-profit colleges. Keiser was for-profit when the investigation started but has since become a nonprofit entity. Keiser has denied any wrongdoing and the agreement does not include any admission that the university did anything wrong.

Among the pledges made by Keiser in the agreement are that it will not advertise its programs as "fully accredited," that it will not say programs have "limited availability" unless that is true, and that federal student loans will not be described as if they have no cost to students. Further, Keiser must "clearly and conspicuously disclose" that credits may not be transferable to other colleges.

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Grand Canyon Nixes Gift of Mass. Campus

In a surprise move, Grand Canyon University this week said it would not accept the gift of a 217-acre campus in Northfield, Mass., according to a corporate filing. Five weeks ago the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores announced that it had selected the for-profit institution after a lengthy search for a Christian owner for the property. Grand Canyon said it planned to spend an estimated $150 million to develop a second, 5,000-student residential campus at the new location. The filing revealed little about the about-face, noting only that the company had determined that accepting the campus would not be in its "best interest." However, in an interview with the Religious News Service, Grand Canyon's CEO said the city of Northfield had resisted the planned campus.

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College to Reimburse for StraighterLine Courses

Potomac College will reimburse students for courses they take from StraighterLine, an online provider that offers 42 entry-level courses, according to a StraighterLine announcement. The for-profit college will pay students for the $999 fee for up to 10 StraighterLine courses, the equivalent of a full year of college, after students transfer the courses to Potomac and then successfully complete a semester there. StraighterLine's courses are not credit-bearing, but come with a credit recommendation from the American Council on Education.

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University of Phoenix Closing 115 Locations

The Apollo Group on Tuesday announced that it was closing 90 of the University of Phoenix's satellite learning centers and 25 of its campuses, leaving 112 remaining locations. The closures are part of a "re-engineering initiative" that the company said will help the bottom line by 2014. About 13,000 students, or 4 percent of those pursuing degrees at Phoenix, will be affected by the shuttering of locations. But those students will continue to be served online and at alternative sites, according to the company.

The news accompanied the release of Apollo's disappointing fourth-quarter earnings, with a 10 percent decline in annual revenue and a 15 percent dip in enrollment at Phoenix. The company also announced the elimination of 800 jobs, but not faculty positions. Phoenix last week introduced a tuition freeze for current and incoming students.

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Justice Dept. Investigates Bridgepoint Admissions Practices

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Bridgepoint Education Inc. over the compensation of admissions staff members, the company announced Monday in a corporate filing. The for-profit is also facing a serious accreditation challenge for its Ashford University, which is scrambling to retain regional accreditation.

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University of Phoenix Freezes Tuition

The University of Phoenix on Thursday announced an immediate tuition freeze for all new and currently enrolled students. Tuition rates will be locked in for students as they work toward degrees, university officials said, as long as they meet eligibility requirements and stay enrolled. The university said the freeze was an effort to keep tuition levels affordable at Phoenix, which is the largest for-profit institution. Tuition rates vary at the university, but some bachelor's degree programs are $420 per credit.

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Enrollments fall for first time in 15 years

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The number of students enrolled in U.S. colleges declines in 2011, the first such drop in at least 15 years. For-profit colleges lose the most.


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