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For-Profit College Association Changes Name

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) has changed its name to Career Education Colleges and Universities. The governing board for the group, which is the for-profit sector's primary trade association, voted for the change Monday in Orlando, Fla., where the association is holding its annual meeting. Six years ago, APSCU was dubbed the Career College Association.

Many colleges and companies in the for-profit sector have struggled with slumping enrollments and revenue, while several face investigations or lawsuits from states and federal agencies. APSCU also has been buffeted by the industry's problems, announcing last year that big changes were on the way -- beyond the name change. For example, the new CECU said it will court nonprofit colleges as members (a handful of nonprofits currently belong to the group).

The rebranded group will seek to represent any college that works on career education, said Steve Gunderson, CECU's president and CEO.

"Our sector and our association will be even more focused on career education and the necessary work in government relations, leadership, research and communications," he said in a written statement. "We will be the voice and vision of postsecondary career education.”

Congressional fight over changes to for-profits' access to military bases

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Legislators, veterans groups and for-profit colleges wrangle over details of an amendment that would expand for-profit colleges' access to students on military bases.

Iowa Blocks Ashford U. From G.I. Bill Benefits

Iowa's Department of Education notified Bridgepoint Education -- the parent company of Ashford University -- that the state's approving agency would no longer approve the institution's programs for G.I. Bill benefits after June 30, according to a corporate filing

That's because the company is planning to close the Ashford University campus in Clinton, Iowa. The for-profit institution currently has about 6,250 students who receive G.I. Bill benefits. 

Ashford is applying for approval to continue receiving these benefits through the California state agency in an effort to prevent the disruption of benefits to veteran students before the June deadline. 

"At this time we cannot be certain approval through the California State Approving Agency will be obtained by June 30, 2016 and any potential delays or gaps in coverage for G.I. Bil benefits, including as a result of following the (Iowa approving agency's) recommendation to seek approval elsewhere, could have a material adverse effect on current and future military student enrollment and the company's revenues, financial condition, cash flows and results of operations," according to the filing. 

Bridgepoint has been faced with a few investigations in the last year. Last week, the company announced it had received a second subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission related to the company's scholarship and institutional loan programs, as well as investigations by the California attorney general's office and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

 

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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."

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