Tom Harkin’s Report On For-Profit Colleges : Poor On Academics

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education in USA Senate report A two-year long investigation of 30 top for-profit colleges by the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labour and Pensions has shown that these colleges sucked up over $32 billion from the Federal government but in 2008-09, 54% students (nearly 500,000) left their institution within a median 4 months – without any degree or diploma. Among 2-year Associate degree-seekers, 63 percent of students departed without a degree. The report was released by Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Committee, in a press conference.

In the US, small independent for-profit colleges have a long history, but as the investigation found, by 2009, 76 percent of all for-profit college students were enrolled in institutions owned by listed companies or private equity firms. In other words, they were being run as any business, with profit as the key goal.

These colleges encourage non-traditional students, including those from poorer backgrounds to take student loans from the government and join up. For this purpose they employed 35,202 recruiters compared with 3,512 career services staff and 12,452 support services staff, more than two and a half recruiters for each support services employee, the report revealed.

The Harkin Report said that for-profit colleges had exorbitant fees – for a bachelor’s degree, they charged 20 percent more than a flagship public university. For an associate degree program the fees were four times and for certificate courses costs were four and a half times the cost at comparable community colleges.

For-profit colleges gather contact information of prospective students, or “leads,” by paying third party companies known as “lead generators” that specialize in gathering and selling the information, the report said. Among the 62 lead generators used by companies analyzed, the cost per lead ranged between $10 and $150. Lead generators advertise themselves as a free, safe, and reliable way to get information about college, but their websites generally direct students only to schools and programs that pay them, and have a history of engaging in online marketing using aggressive and misleading methods, according to the report.

Full Report : TOI

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