Public Advocates Inc., a Californian nonprofit advocacy group, has criticized the state\’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education for its \”significant weaknesses\” in overseeing for-profit colleges.
The agency’s \”lax approach\” prevents it from fully having the ability to police the for-profit sector, said Jamienne S. Studley, CEO of Public Advocates Inc.
Erica Perez at California Watch reports that in the joint information hearing from the Assembly Higher Education Committee and Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development, Studley told the lawmakers that the bureau should strengthen its approval process and demand more disclosures from approved institutions.
For-profits nationally enroll the greatest share of students who default on their own student loans.
“If our goal were to provide low-income neighborhoods and individuals with use of good banking services, we\’d not count opening more payday loan lenders as success.
“And thus when our goal is increasing opportunity through educational attainment, the chance to go to institutions that graduate just one quarter of the students, or that flourish in placing merely a small number of students in secure jobs within the field for which they are trained, does not count as success.”
Studley believes that bureau’s jurisdiction that only means unaccredited schools are subject to the full scope from the agency’s investigation, complaint and enforcement procedures \”leaves many students at risk.\”
Many schools do not have to follow the state’s disclosure requirements — meaning hundreds of thousands of California students in private institutions aren\’t protected through the bureau, says Studley.
“We strongly let the Legislature to closely examine the risks of relying on an external peer review process to effectively switch the state’s consumer protection oversight for this type of large segment of the private postsecondary sector.\”
This uses a series of complaints where the bureau fell, in Studley\’s opinion, badly short. As reported in the Bay Citizen, after last year, the company had a backlog of 200 investigations of schools that had been accused of violating state education code.
\”One former student of the for-profit Institute of Medical Education told The Bay Citizen that when she complained to the bureau concerning the school, she was told the company lacked the staff to investigate the claim.\”
Debbie Cochrane is the program director for that Institute for College Access and Success and she believes the state\’s lax oversight system has caused it to become breeding ground for for-profits.
“The combination of relatively weak oversight C including virtually no oversight for a few recent years C and an unusually generous state grant program make the state a beautiful place for for-profit colleges to do business.”