With so much negative coverage of private sector colleges and universities in the news, this blog has focused on a balanced view of access and success in higher education. Some would say that the media’s reporting could hardly be called “fair.” However, two media opinion pieces this week bring some balance to the issues. Of particular note is the recognition of several themes of this blog: (a) the need for more “seats” and the capacity of the private sector to provide increased access and (b) the biased focus of the Department of Education on only one sector of higher education while ignoring the need to improve public higher education. See below for excerpts from these articles:
The Florida Times-Union: “For-profit, ‘career’ colleges play vital role in education”
In a society where the haves and have-nots are on increasingly divergent trajectories, education remains a critical path to equal opportunity.
The traditional model of higher education – nonprofit public and private universities and community colleges – is limited in its ability to support this pathway.
In fact, the overcrowding problem is so acute at some community colleges that many students have stopped making progress toward a degree simply because they cannot get access to necessary courses.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “A well-laid plan to cripple needed for-profit colleges”
Let’s be clear. We agree with the concern the department is trying to address. The idea is that students should graduate with jobs that pay enough to enable them to repay their loans. We’re committed to students’ successes, so we would like to be part of any solution that helps further their success.
So what has gone awry?
The Department of Education proposed a rule based on anecdotal information from 16 unnamed for-profit colleges that no one is allowed to examine for accuracy. Worse, the “study” does nothing to compare graduation outcomes or debt levels of our students with public or non-profit institutions serving similar student populations.