Corporate colleges wage war on U.S. watchdog

The watchdog being the Government Accountability Office [GAO], which is charged with ensuring that government programs are administered in the best interest of the citizens.

The government-backed student loans taken out by corporate college students are the only sector of the finance industry which has been steadily growing throughout the crisis, as students excluded from the public universities seek the only avenue presented to them to earn skills and credentials.

When the GAO reported massive abuses of the loan system and at the for-profit colleges, the corporate owners made all the right noises, promising changes and reforms.

But that was then, and now is something quite different, reports Stephen Burd at Higher Ed Watch:

Back in August when the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that it had found “fraudulent, deceptive, and otherwise questionable marketing practices” at every single one of the 15 for-profit colleges it visited as part of an undercover investigation, career college lobbyists and leaders went into full crisis management mode.

The video the GAO released showing for-profit college recruiters lying to and badgering federal investigators posed as prospective students left advocates for these schools with little choice but to admit that serious recruiting abuses had occurred at some of the country’s largest for-profit higher education companies, including the Apollo Group (owners of the University of Phoenix), Corinthian Colleges, Education Management Corporation, and Kaplan Inc.

While for-profit college lobbyists and leaders mostly tried to pin the blame for these incidents on “rogue” employees at these schools, they generally did acknowledge that the GAO had provided a much-needed “wake-up call” to their institutions. “We have to show that we as an association and we as institutions are changing our behavior,” Harris Miller, the president of the then-Career College Association told Inside Higher Ed at the time. “It means not just saying something different, but doing something different.”

Similarly, in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires, Miller said, “My schools have stopped blaming other people for their troubles. This is a teachable moment.”

Well, the moment appears to have passed. Over the last several months, career college advocates have taken a decidedly different tack towards the GAO report: they have engaged in a campaign to try to discredit it. They have done this mostly on the down low — with, for example, comments posted on articles and blogs impugning the motives and methods of the GAO officials who conducted the investigation.


So far all of the allegations that have been made about the GAO’s investigation have been based on nothing more than innuendo and insinuations. This is hardly a surprise — as these for-profit college advocates are simply trying to raise doubts about the most clear and damaging evidence that has been brought against their schools so far. They can’t prove their case, but they don’t need to. As long as they are able to sow confusion and uncertainty about the GAO’s conduct, they have achieved their goal.

Read the rest here.

And California readers should bear in mind that University of California Regent Richard Blum is a major player in the corporate college world, and that the universities he oversees is now farming out students to the corporate education sector in a deal approved by the regents.

Small world, ain’t it.


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