kw: education, business
Last year I applied to become an online faculty member for a for-profit university. I wasn't accepted. They have plenty of applicants with backgrounds as good as mine. But I know someone who works for the university's administration through a Toastmasters club; she advised me to keep trying. They are expanding several percent yearly. Tonight I saw a PBS Frontline special on for-profit schools, which was conducted pretty much as an exposé. There is plenty to expose. By the way, I do plan to apply again; there is a lot to like in the online university operation. But there are valid concerns, as the Frontline program pointed out.
The original for-profit school is University of Phoenix, which has campuses scattered throughout the Southwest, but has an even larger online presence. Though they have paid an out-of-court settlement ("admitting no guilt") based on charges of unfair practices, they are actually pretty clean. Many schools were shown to use heavy-handed recruiting, and some claim to be accredited when they are not.
The Obama administration's education secretary Arne Duncan is pressing Congress to pass a measure called the "gainful employment" rule, that reduces students' liability and puts more of the onus on the school, when graduates emerge from an education program ill-prepared for the work they were aiming at. Because of rampant loans to students, many are complaining they get no work but are still expected to pay off huge loans. Some find that, because their degree is not from an accredited institution, they are actually barred from working in the field. This is particularly true of nursing programs.
So you're poor, you just went to school for two or three years, you owe $80,000, and you still can't get work that pays more than $10,000 yearly. Now what? Many default. The gainful employment rule is intended to reduce defaults, but the schools are fighting it. Why am I not surprised?
For-profit education is a rather new product. We're just getting to the wild-west stage, where huge profits are being made by people who enjoy almost no oversight. Of course their profits will take a hit when a modicum of proper oversight is imposed. But it needs to be imposed.
I dug around on the Web a little before coming to a conclusion. I don't trust PBS entirely, just as I don't trust any single source. But I have concluded that the gainful employment rule is a good thing; it is not enough, but it is the least we can do for a start. I very seldom urge political action, but in this case, I urge you to let your Senators and Representatives know you are in favor of the gainful employment rule.