U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, last year sought leniency for Corinthian Colleges after the Education Department imposed tight limits on the for-profit provider's access to federal aid, Bloomberg reported. In a letter to senior department officials obtained by Bloomberg, Rubio argued that the department should show leniency to Corinthian while it was cooperating with the department's investigation. “It has been brought to my attention that the U.S. Department of Education has recently placed extreme financial constraints on Corinthian Colleges, Inc. by restricting the company's timely access to federal financial aid. It is my understanding the Department of Education has requested extensive documents be provided by Corinthian Colleges for review, and Corinthian has acted in good faith to try to provide these documents as expeditiously as possible,” Rubio wrote.
The Bloomberg article also noted that Corinthian Colleges contributed $5,000 to Rubio's political action committee during the 2014 election cycle.
A spokesperson for Rubio defended the letter, telling Bloomberg, “Senator Rubio felt it was important to protect the thousands of students in Florida from being punished and having their educations disrupted while the investigation was underway. His priority has always been to improve access to higher education options and increase transparency in higher education.”
Bill Clinton is stepping down as honorary chancellor of Laureate International Universities, announced Laureate Education Inc., a for-profit that is among the world's largest higher education providers. Clinton concludes a five-year contract with the company.
His wife, Hillary, this month announced her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. As a result, scrutiny of the Clintons' many connections and roles has notched up in recent weeks.
Ernesto Zedillo, the former president of Mexico, will assume a similar position with Laureate. Zedillo will be a presidential counselor with Laureate International Universities, which enrolls nearly one million students, with a heavy focus on Latin America. He will advise the company and its 80 institutions on academic innovation and private and public sector collaboration.
"Laureate students represent the next generation of leadership. I have seen a commitment to quality and leadership throughout the Laureate network, and I have enjoyed being a part of it," Clinton said in a written statement. "President Zedillo will be a remarkable ambassador. I am sure he will have a positive impact on the organization and, most important, on its current and future students.”
A segment on WITI News highlights a University of Phoenix settlement with a woman who says she was misled by recruiters about the job prospects her degree program would open up. The woman said she was told that a human services degree would give her opportunities similar to those of graduates of social work programs, but she found her program didn't have social work accreditation so she couldn't gain internships or jobs in the field. Phoenix reviewed records of its counselors' interaction with the student and then admitted that they had “inappropriately characterized likely career outcomes.” The news show says other students are making similar complaints.
DeVry Education Group, a major publicly traded for-profit, on Thursday announced consolidations and a rebranding for its DeVry University. The company announced that it would close 14 campus locations, converting academic programs at those locations to online-only offerings.
Like most for-profits, DeVry's flagship brand has struggled with sagging enrollments and revenue. This quarter it reported declines of almost 16 percent in revenue and 15 percent in total undergraduate enrollment. However, the broader holding company has fared better of late -- its overall enrollment is up 18 percent. In Brazil, for example, DeVry enrolls roughly 40,000 degree-seeking students, company officials said.
Daniel Hamburger, the DeVry Education Group's president and CEO, said in an interview that the university chain's campus consolidations are part of a broad repositioning and an attempt to return it to growth. "We'll focus on the most competitive markets," he said. "This is a narrowing of our campus footprint."
DeVry also will focus on more targeting advertising in those areas, pulling back somewhat on national ads. The for-profit chain is seeking to reduce its tuition, to strengthen teaching and learning models, and to develop its ties with employers, Hamburger said.
California's consumer protection agency on Tuesday ordered Corinthian Colleges' campuses in the state to stop enrolling students after tomorrow, the Orange County Registerreported. An official of the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education said the order would "protect individuals who may have been thinking about enrolling at these schools." The California agency's move is the latest blow -- among many -- for the crumbling for-profit provider; last week, the U.S. Education Department fined the company $30 million.
Education Department turns up heat on for-profits with job-placement-rate scrutiny, three months before gainful-employment rules kick in. But lack of federal standards for placement rates causes confusion.
The U.S. Department of Education has granted federal aid eligibility to two new academic programs that do not rely on the credit hour -- a form of competency-based education called direct assessment. So far six institutions have earned approval from the department and regional accreditors for direct-assessment programs.
Walden University, a for-profit institution that Laureate Education owns, announced on Tuesday that the department approved its new competency-based master's degree in early childhood studies. The university offers the degree through its Tempo Learning program, in which it said "students can progress at their own pace by applying their existing knowledge and prior experience while focusing on mastering the skills they need to meet the demands of the workforce."
The Texas State College System last October got a green light from the department for its competency-based certificate in industrial systems technology, according to a spokeswoman for the system. The 27-credit program features training in electrical and computer systems. Students work at their own pace and can earn a certificate in two semesters or less. The credential appears to be the first department-approved direct-assessment program to feature face-to-face instruction.
Hillary Clinton, on her first trip to Iowa after declaring her presidential candidacy, criticized for-profit colleges and talked about college costs in a discussion at Kirkwood Community College.
She said it was important to look at "some of the for-profit schools, some of the scandals that have arisen in these places where they have taken all this money… and put all these people into debt" without providing students with the skills they need. Then many students "drop out and they don't have the degree or credential" but do have debt, Clinton said. "We have to take on those interests that want to keep the system the way it is."
Clinton endorsed President Obama's proposal to provide free community college tuition. But she stressed that she realized tuition alone was not the only expense faced by many community college students. Books and online materials cost money, she said. She said she has been told that because Pell Grants cover tuition at most community colleges for low-income students, many say that the "bigger problem" is other expenses beyond tuition. "A lot of students are working or are single parents and they have all these other expenses," she said.
C-SPAN video of the appearance may be found here, with the section on college costs and for-profit higher education starting around the 58-minute mark.