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For-profit Higher Education
Tri-Valley is among at least half a dozen schools shut down or raided by federal authorities in recent years over allegations of immigration fraud. Like Tri-Valley, they had obtained permission from U.S. immigration officials to admit foreign students. But most offered little or no instruction or didn’t require all students to attend classes, instead exploiting the student visa system for profit, investigators said.
The Internet has hundreds of college-search sites, most of them guided not by sophisticated algorithms but by money: Colleges directly or indirectly pay the sites to get names of prospective students, and the sites give play to the colleges that are paying the most for those "leads," often without clear disclosure to the people using the sites. John Katzman, a prominent education-industry entrepreneur and the founder of an education-search company called Noodle, says it’s time "to clean up the education marketplace" involving online search.
President Obama is expected to propose the Student Data Privacy Act on Monday, January 12. The act would prohibit technology firms from profiting from information collected in schools as teachers adopt tablets, online services and Internet-connected software, officials said. And he will announce voluntary agreements by companies to safeguard home energy data and to provide easy access to credit scores as an “early warning system” for identity theft.
When the 114th Congress convenes, on Tuesday, Republicans will control the Senate for the first time in eight years. In the House of Representatives, they’ll have their largest majority since 1928. What does that mean for higher education? In the spirit of the New Year, here are five predictions for 2015.
The fall of for-profit giant Corinthian College has raised questions about the future of the industry and the role the government plays in supporting these controversial schools. Undersecretary Ted Mitchell, the third-highest ranking official at the Education Department and the person charged with overseeing the country’s higher education policy, defends the government’s decision.
Wherever problems lurk, there’s a slew of possible solutions for sale. So the ever-daunting challenge of enrolling the right mix of students was bound to spawn a big business, one that helps colleges fill their beds and polish their reputations. Over the last few decades, dozens of companies peddling enrollment-management advice and services have built a multibillion-dollar industry, which is now attracting players from other sectors.
It was once among the country’s most successful public companies, beloved by Wall Street for its simple, lucrative model: offering degrees to low-income students who borrowed heavily from the government to pay their tuition. But the for-profit college giant Corinthian Colleges has spent much of the year in a tailspin. Corinthian’s schools looked like they were toast. And then an unlikely savior swooped in.
Rick Cohen writes: While the critiques of for-profit colleges have been scathing and constant (such as the article by freelancer Barry Yeoman that slams for-profit colleges for “Potemkin” degrees, fabricated prospects of employment, and leading students into “a lifetime of debt”), no one should be carried away that attaching “nonprofit” to higher education makes colleges and universities all hunky dory.
The U.S. Treasury Department soon will take some student borrowers' accounts away from private debt collectors and give them to federal workers, an ambitious new pilot project that may result in the government cutting out the student loan middlemen who have gotten rich targeting distressed borrowers. The federal employees will be charged with finding ways to help troubled borrowers make good on their delinquent debts, according to borrower advocates and Obama administration officials who have been briefed on the project. The project may start early next year.
James Marshall Crotty writes: For-profit colleges have taken a beating in the court of public opinion, as former students allege that they were bum rushed into classes that saddled them with enormous debt and into majors of dubious utility that left them unprepared for the merciless 21st century global workforce. Poor and minority students were foremost in mind in the Obama administration’s gainful employment initiative, which strengthens income and job benchmarks that for-profit colleges must meet in return for mission-critical access to federal student loans and grants.