Submitted by Paul Fain on September 11, 2013 - 3:00am
An official with the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday suggested that a panel of negotiators consider including a program-level cohort default rate as part of proposed gainful employment regulations, which would would measure the employment outcomes of vocational programs at for-profit institutions and community colleges. That metric would be a new addition to an annual debt-to-income ratio and a discretionary income ratio.
John Kolotos, the official, who is a negotiator for the rule-making session that began this week, said the department had not vetted the details on how a loan default rate would work. But the department already has an institution-level rate in place, and he said the feds consider a three-year program-level rate of 30 percent (and one year at 40 percent) to be a "viable addition" to gainful employment. It would be a stand-alone measure, he said, meaning academic programs would lose eligibility for federal aid programs if they crossed the threshold, regardless of how they perform on other measures.
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Education Department’s attempts to regulate colleges and universities over the past several years provide good protections for students and taxpayers, the department’s independent investigatory arm has concluded.
The report by the department’s inspector general was released on the second day of a negotiated rule-making hearing aimed at rewriting the department’s controversial gainful employment regulations. It finds that some type of gainful employment metrics are needed to hold colleges accountable and to protect taxpayer money. The report also applauds the department’s efforts to define a credit hour and require institutions of higher education to be authorized by the state in which they operate.
The inspector general’s office relied on its previous audits and investigations to produce the analysis. It did not appear to evaluate the impact of the regulations or weigh alternative rule proposals.
Representative George Miller, the ranking Democrat on the House education committee, sought the study from the Education Department’s inspector general in response to legislation being pushed by House Republicans to repeal those regulations and prohibit the Obama administration from enacting new ones. The proposal cleared the Republican-led House education committee in July on a mostly party-line vote, with one Democrat supporting the measure.
Submitted by Paul Fain on September 9, 2013 - 3:00am
The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools has lifted the sanction of "on notice" from Ashford University, according to a corporate filing from Bridgepoint Education, the for-profit university's holding company. The commission had been concerned that Ashford would not meet its new standards for accreditation, including a requirement for colleges to have a "substantial presence" in the regional accreditor's geographical domain. But the university apparently resolved those issues. In a related action, Ashford's biggest accreditation victory this year has been to successfully transfer its status to the Western Association of Colleges and Schools, a move that took two tries.
William J. Pepicello will retire as president of the University of Phoenix after seven years in the job, the institution announced Wednesday. Pepicello, who has worked at the for-profit university since 1995, has navigated Phoenix through both strong growth and the contraction that much of his sector has encountered post-recession, and has been a visible presence at meetings of higher education leaders.
The owners of the Charleston School of Law announced Wednesday they plan to sell the institution to the InfiLaw System, which operates a chain of for-profit law schools, The Statereported. A recent announcement by the law school that it was turning over some management functions to InfiLaw set off concerns from some students and alumni that the arrangement would lead to a sale. Critics of the idea say that it would decrease the value of the law school's degrees, while law school officials say a sale would bolster the institution.
Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2013/08/28/2947046/sale-of-charleston-school-of-law.html#storylink=cpy
In his address on higher education last week, President Obama encouraged innovation, specifically mentioning the groundbreaking work being done to award college credit based on learning, not simply on how much time is spent in a classroom. Under the direct assessment method, colleges and universities like Capella, which recently became the first university to receive U.S. Department of Education approval to offer competency-based bachelor’s- and master’s-degree programs that utilize direct assessment, can deliver high-quality education in a way that allows students to advance through their programs at their own pace and on their own schedule. As President Obama said, this allows students to "learn material faster, pay less and save money."
Using this model, the future of higher education can align specific competencies with the needs of employers as well as critical societal needs, while allowing busy students the flexibility to complete a degree.
However, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Even with the excitement around this new higher education delivery model, colleges and universities wishing to operate programs through direct assessment are still forced to work within the confines of an antiquated financial aid delivery system built upon concepts like the credit hour. Here is where President Obama’s higher education plan has an opportunity to enact real, lasting change that will spark innovation – and change the way we think about education.
Some of the necessary updates to federal financial aid programs are obvious. For example, requirements around weeks of instructional time simply do not work with a direct assessment model that focuses on what the student is learning, not the number of weeks it takes them to do so. Additionally, an examination of artificial, time-based barriers to completion highlights the need to reinstate year-round Pell Grant funding and explore the elimination of annual loan limits. The current funding rules around both the Pell Grant program and the Stafford Loan program prevent ambitious students from moving more quickly through their programs and increase the likelihood that students will have to pause their education for a term or more in order to gain additional aid eligibility.
In addition, policymakers should explore how a student’s academic progress can be measured apart from standards like traditional letter grades. Ultimately, federal funding rules need to reflect the move toward tying financial aid to student outcomes.
Obviously, there is a lot of work to be done to move the dial on a true direct assessment model. One way to address this is for Congress to authorize a demonstration project, or for the Department of Education to launch an experimental site initiative that will allow programs operating under direct assessment to examine the issues listed above, as well as others that arise. This will open the door to a better understanding of what federal financial aid changes make sense, and at the same time, allow institutions like Capella and Southern New Hampshire University to continue to innovate with direct assessment. It is shortsighted to believe that the current financial aid model supports the full potential of direct assessment. At the same time, it would be irresponsible to enact immediate, sweeping changes without the benefit of learning from those innovative institutions that are approved to operate direct assessment programs.
The emergence of direct assessment is a great step forward for higher education, but this is just the beginning. Colleges offering direct assessment cannot perpetually retrofit this delivery model into a traditional student funding model, nor can simply eliminating the credit hour requirement solve the issues that currently exist. Congress has already started the important process of investigating barriers that impede higher education innovation and efficiency. We should all work together to explore the opportunities President Obama outlined and pursue substantial, innovative change in higher education.
Deb Bushway is chief academic officer at Capella University.
New York State has sued Trump University for making false claims and operating as an unlicensed educational institution from 2005 to 2011, The New York Times reported. Trump University earlier changed its name to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative after the New York State Education Department said it was deceptive for the for-profit institution to call itself a university. The lawsuit announced Saturday says that the Donald Trump led organization encouraged people "to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn’t afford for lessons they never got." As an example of a false claim, the suit says that Donald Trump claimed in promotional materials that he selected instructors to teach a curriculum he devised. In reality, the state attorney general says, Trump didn't pick the instructors or create the curriculum. A lawyer for Trump said that the suit was politically motivated and that the vast majority of students were satisfied with their courses.
Submitted by Paul Fain on August 20, 2013 - 3:00am
Career Education Corp. has agreed to a $10.25 million settlement with New York's attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman. The for-profit chain, which owns Colorado Technical University and Sanford Brown, had been the subject of an inquiry by Schneiderman over allegedly inflating its graduates' job placement rates. The settlement includes $9.25 in restitution to former students and a $1 million penalty to the state, according to a news release from the attorney general's office. The company has also agreed to "substantial changes" in how it calculates job placement rates.
A Minnesota jury has ordered Globe University, a for-profit institution, to pay $400,000 to Heidi Weber, who said she was fired for accusing the institution of using false and misleading job placement statistics, The Star Tribune reported. Weber sued under a Minnesota law designed to protect whistle-blowers. Globe said that she was dismissed for legitimate reasons.