The first half of the hearing focused on the GAO report which hit yesterday and included videotape (here is a link to the video) demonstrating the fraudulent and deceptive marketing practices uncovered.
Senator Harkin will be sending an information and document request to 30 for-profit schools tomorrow. He is planning on holding another hearing in September to "get to the bottom of this." He seemed most interested in graduation rates and churn rates but I would be surprised if he didn't ask about recruitment practices also.
Harkin also seemed interested in finding a legislative solution to this issue. He described the Dept. of Education regulations on program integrity to be a good "first step" but expressed concern that regulations can be changed too easily by future administrations, using the "safe harbors" of incentive compensation as an example.
The accreditation process also will be coming under additional scrutiny too with Senator Franken, in particular, focusing his line of questioning on the issue of how well accreditors are ensuring that their rigorous standards are being adhered to.
I missed the first 30 minutes of the hearing but the committee "named names" of the colleges investigated in the GAO report (from Barrons):
"Even in lean times, the $400 billion business of higher education is
booming. Nowhere is this more true than in one of the fastest-growing
-- and most controversial -- sectors of the industry: for-profit
colleges and universities that cater to non-traditional students, often
confer degrees over the Internet, and, along the way, successfully
capture billions of federal financial aid dollars.
"A Massachusetts college has a new plan to give students an edge in getting admitted.Bristol
Community College is about to launch a plan that would allow students
to skip the waiting list if they agree to pay double the school's
tuition.The school is teaming up the Princeton Review. As part
of the deal, the for-profit company would invest $2 million in the
college, which includes a new facility in downtown New Bedford.The program would specifically apply to courses designed to train health care workers and cost about $8,500 a year.
College officials said it's a creative way for the school to meet the growing demand for that kind of training.But
the head of the state's Community College Council is already blasting
the program saying allowing students who can pay more to go to the head
of the line goes against the idea of public education."
In a survey accompanying this article, 85% of respondents didn't think this policy was fair. Meanwhile in February, Kaplan has an agreement with the overcrowded California Community College system to offer their online courses:
According to Pegasus News, this program will be delivered online through the University of Texas Telecampus and will focus on serving former students who had earned 60 credits or more:
"Not everybody can be 18, leave high school and go to college for four
years and graduate," Moore said. "We believe that offering this degree
will dramatically increase the options for these students." Moore said
the BAC program is part of UT Arlington's effort to serve former
students who face geographical and time constraints in traveling to
campus for class.
For those wondering about the acceptance of on-line education in K-12, I was taken aback by some of the statistics in Archipelago's description of their company in their S-1 filing, particularly the fact their core product, Study Island, is used by almost 9 million students or just less than 20% of students in the national K-12 system: