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DeVry Buys Anti-Money Laundering Group for $330M

Becker Professional Education, a subsidiary of DeVry Education Group, this week announced it is buying the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists for $330 million. The membership association, among other things, provides online and in-person training and credentialing on financial crimes prevention. It offers a widely used certification in the field.

DeVry, a publicly traded for-profit, earlier this week said its CEO, Daniel Hamburger, had departed and been replaced by Lisa Wardell, a member of the company's Board of Directors.

SEC Investigates Bridgepoint Education Finances

Bridgepoint Education, the parent company of Ashford University, announced in a corporate filing last week that it has received a second subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The subpoena is related to investigations by the California attorney general's office and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The SEC is also requesting documents and information related to the company's scholarship and institutional loan programs and other extensions of credit made by Bridgepoint to students, as well as enrollment and retention details.

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DeVry CEO Replaced by Board Member

Daniel Hamburger, the CEO of DeVry Education Group for the last nine years, left the company on Tuesday. His departure was effective immediately, DeVry, a large for-profit chain, said in a written statement. Lisa Wardell, a longtime member of the company's Board of Directors, is the new CEO.

Last year the company announced that its flagship DeVry University would close 14 campus locations amid other consolidations and a rebranding. The university had struggled with sagging enrollments and revenue. And the Federal Trade Commission last year sued the university and its parent company over allegations of deceptive claims about job-placement rates and graduates' wages. DeVry has contested those allegations.

DeVry Education Group has fared well overseas in recent years, particularly in Brazil, and the company's overall enrollment numbers are up.

Wardell mostly recently was executive vice president and chief operating officer of the RLJ Companies, an asset management company. Hamburger left DeVry to pursue other opportunities, the company said.

“The Board of Directors believes that Lisa Wardell provides a strategic vision and road map for the rapid acceleration of DeVry Group’s diversification initiatives,” Chris Begley, the company's board chair, said in a written statement. “Lisa is the right person to lead DeVry Group through this transformational period in higher education while remaining true to our mission of successful student outcomes.”

Apollo Eliminates Mandatory Arbitration Clauses

Apollo Education Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix and Western International University, announced Thursday that it would eliminate the use of mandatory arbitration clauses in students' enrollment agreements.

"We have worked hard to further improve the student experience at all of our institutions and it's clear that eliminating mandatory arbitration is the right choice for all of our students," said Greg Cappelli, chief executive officer of Apollo, in a written statement. "This decision joins a host of efforts already underway to improve student outcomes, align all of our U.S.-based colleges under a standard student practice, and comes with the full support of our prospective new owners."

Earlier this month Apollo shareholders approved a deal for the company to be purchased by a consortium of investors. The sale remains subject to review by the U.S. Education Department and the Higher Learning Commission, Phoenix's regional accreditor, but is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The Obama administration has been considering banning mandatory arbitration agreements at institutions that receive federal funding. These agreements, which many for-profits have in place, prevent students from filing lawsuits against their colleges, requiring them to instead settle disputes through arbitration. Critics of arbitration agreements have argued that the proceedings often are conducted in secret and grant students fewer rights than do traditional courts.

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Singapore-based company seeks to crack U.S. higher ed market

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An education company based in the Asian state seeks to buy the Santa Fe University of Art and Design.

New Layoffs for EDMC

Education Management Corporation, a large for-profit chain, last week announced layoffs of 200 employees in the online division of its Art Institute of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The company has struggled with slumping revenue and enrollments in recent years, as well as federal and state lawsuits and investigations. Last year it announced the closure of 15 of 52 campus locations of the Art Institutes. The new layoffs represent 3 percent of the company's 20,000-employee workforce, EDMC said.

General Assembly on Measuring Student Results

General Assembly, the largest of the skills boot camp providers, today released a public framework for measuring student outcomes. Boot camps are not accredited. And while many claim job-placement rates of more than 90 percent, those numbers typically are not verified by outside groups. But Skills Fund, a student lender for boot camps, and other players are seeking to play that role.

To design its standards for reporting and measuring student success, General Assembly worked with two major accounting firms to craft an approach public companies use to measure nonfinancial metrics such as social impact and environmental sustainability.

"Our goal is to start a conversation about outcomes predicated on the use of consistent definitions and the application of a rigorous framework and methodology," the company said. "Over time, we hope to develop new measures of return on education that consider income or other criteria that can be used by students and other stakeholders to understand student success in even more specific and granular ways."

FTC Takes Action Against Florida Lead Generator

The Federal Trade Commission announced Thursday that the operators of Gigats.com agreed to settle deception charges.

Gigats.com is an education lead-generation company based in Orlando, Fla., that claims to prescreen job applicants for employers. However, the company was instead gathering information for for-profit colleges and career training programs, according to the FTC.

The federal agency alleges that consumers who provided Gigats with personal information typically requested in a job application were directed to call "employment specialists" who steered consumers to enrolling in education programs that paid Gigats for consumer leads.

"The FTC alleges that these so-called advisers falsely claimed to be independent education advisers but in fact only recommended schools and programs that had agreed to pay the defendants, typically from $22 to $125, for consumer leads that met their enrollment requirements," according to a news release.

A proposed court order imposes a $90.2 million judgment that will be suspended upon payment of $360,000. Gigats is operated by Expand Inc., which also does business as EducationMatch and SoftRock Inc.

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Apollo Postpones Vote on Ownership Change

Apollo Education Group shareholders will have more time to vote on a proposed change in ownership for the parent company of the University of Phoenix.

The vote, which was scheduled to take place today, has been delayed until May 6 to give shareholders more time to make their decision. The proposal would sell the company to a consortium of private investors for $1.1 billion.

Of the votes that have come in so far, "nearly 58 percent voted for the proposed transaction," according to an Apollo news release.

"We are gratified that the shareholders who voted in favor of the transaction recognized that this offer represents the best available outcome," said Greg Cappelli, chief executive officer of Apollo, in a statement.

In a letter to shareholders on Tuesday, the company recommended they vote in favor of the proposal. If they didn't, the company would explore other options, including selling Phoenix separately.

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Shareholders to decide fate of U of Phoenix ownership

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A decision today by Apollo Education Group's shareholders could determine today whether U of Phoenix is sold or not.

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