The parent company of competency-based New Charter University is today announcing that it has bought Patten University, a regionally accredited nonprofit institution in California. UniversityNow, Inc., which introduced New Charter as a low-cost higher education provider that awards credit for what students prove they know and can do, said in a news release that its purchase of Patten would allow it to offer four-year degrees for roughly $10,000. Patten has hired Janet Holmgren, the longtime president of Mills College, also in Oakland, as its president.
Bridgepoint Education announced today that the senior college commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges had denied its bid for initial accreditation for Ashford University, the for-profit company's highest-profile institution. Ashford remains accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, but it had sought accreditation in the West -- where Bridgepoint is headquartered -- in part because of the Higher Learning Commission's increasingly chilly treatment of for-profit institutions.
Bridgepoint said that Ashford would both appeal the Western accreditor's decision and reapply for initial accreditation.
WASC's review of Ashford, which the accreditor is due to release later today, had been highly watched, especially because Congressional critics of the for-profit sector had sought to make fast-growing Ashford a poster child for how -- in their eyes -- some institutions have manipulated the accreditation system.
Details of why the Western accreditor denied Ashford's accreditation will be available later today. Follow Inside Higher Ed for continuing coverage.
WASHINGTION -- The housecleaning continues at the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities -- but the newest addition to the senior management team of the for-profit-college group is a familiar name in higher ed policy circles. Sally Stroup, whose résumé includes a stint at the U.S. Education Department as well as a long career as a senior Congressional aide (plus time as a lobbyist for the Apollo Group), was named Thursday as executive vice president for government relations and legal counsel at the trade association. (She has since been senior vice president and deputy general counsel at Scantron Corp., a technology company.)
Stroup's political experience has all been with Republican politicians, and her appointment means that APSCU, within a year, will have undergone a partisan transformation in its top two spots. Stroup replaces Brian Moran, a former Democratic state delegate from Virginia and chair of the state Democratic Party, and the association's president and CEO, Steve Gunderson, a former Republican Congressman, replaced Harris Miller, a former U.S. Senate candidate in Virginia.
The Institute for Higher Education Policy has devised a new classification system to measure the performance and characteristics of for-profit colleges and universities. The framework is an attempt to look at for-profits in a less monolithic way, said Michelle Asha Cooper, the institute's president, and also to be "more outcomes-specific" when tracking the sector. One key measure is a look at markets where for-profits have expanded their operations, and the relative affluence of those markets. Parts of California, for example, have seen rapid growth, according to the system's accompanying report.
The target audience for the framework is lawmakers, Cooper said, adding that it could be used to help inform state-level policies. However, Cooper said findings gleaned from the system are likely to be complex and difficult to generalize. "It doesn't put institutions in neat little buckets," she said.
Career Education Corporation is responding to a new inquiry from a national accreditor related to job placement rates, according to a corporate filing by the company. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges has asked the company, which owns 90 for-profit college campuses, to "show cause" for why accreditation should not be withdrawn from 10 of its institutions. The inquiry stems from the company's earlier acknowledgment that it lacked sufficient documentation for some job placement data. That revelation led to a similar inquiry by another national accreditor -- the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools -- which later cleared the company.