The Oregon Justice Department has ordered Penn Foster College to refund a former student's tuition and to change its claim about accreditation, The Oregonian reported. The former student complained to the department when Portland Community College declined to accept credit he had earned at Penn Foster and told him that the credit was from a national accreditor and that Portland Community College only accepted regionally accredited transfer credits. The former student said that this was inconsistent with what Penn Foster told him, and the agency agreed. Penn Foster denies wrongdoing but did agree to the settlement.
On the college's website today, the statement about accreditation states explicitly that credit may not transfer in all cases. “Penn Foster College is nationally accredited, and our college graduates have been able to gain employment and transfer credits to other colleges and universities upon completion of our degree programs,” the statement says. “However, these decisions are up to the discretion of the colleges, universities or individual employers, and students should check with those entities to determine if they will be able to transfer credits or use their degree in a satisfactory capacity. No form of accreditation guarantees that any learning institution will accept credits from any school as transfer credits.”
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.