Inside Higher Ed: Duncan's Timeline on Ratings Plan

October 31, 2013
By: Michael Stratford

The Obama administration expects to have a first draft of its college rating system by this spring, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday.

After soliciting public input at town hall discussions and hearings at college campuses across the country this fall, the department will convene a “technical symposium” early next year to discuss ratings methodology before releasing a preliminary version for public comment at some point in the spring, Duncan said.

The administration’s goal is to implement the ratings system in the 2014-15 academic year and eventually persuade Congress to link federal student aid funding to the ratings system.

“It is an ambitious timeframe,” Duncan conceded on a call with reporters on Wednesday, in which he again emphasized that the administration has not yet decided on the metrics that will make up the federal college rating system that the president proposed in August.

“We’ve seen some articles [about] people who are already opposed to the ratings plan, which is a little bit funny to me because it literally doesn’t exist,” he said.

Many college and university leaders -- and the associations that represent them in Washington -- have been skeptical, if not critical, of measuring student outcomes based on metrics such as earnings and graduation rates. Some have also decried the availability and quality of data needed to carry out a ratings system.

“Data is always imperfect and we will use the best data we have,” Duncan said, adding that the administration would produce new iterations of the metrics “as better data becomes available.”

Education Department officials also said Wednesday that they planned to host, in collaboration with the White House, a “datapalooza” in the early spring that will bring together innovators and app designers to look at better ways to package and provide access to existing federal data on colleges and students, such as the government’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, known as IPEDS.

It also became clearer on Wednesday who might be helping to lead the formation of the ratings system, as the White House formally announced that the president would be nominating Ted Mitchell to replace Martha J. Kanter as under secretary of education. Mitchell is the former president of Occidental College and the current president of New Schools Venture Fund -- a “venture philanthropy” fund focused on K-12 education reform.

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Inside Higher Education: Gainful Employment Session Rescheduled

October 22, 2013

The U.S. Department of Education has rescheduled the second session of its negotiations over possible new regulations to ensure that vocational programs are preparing students for gainful employment, according to a letter a department official sent to participants. The rule making session was postponed during the government shutdown. It is now scheduled for Nov. 18-20. Negotiators are seeking to find consensus on rules for vocational programs at community colleges and for-profit institutions.

APSCU Press Release: APSCU - Inaugural APSCU State of the Workforce Symposium: From Education to Employment

October 21, 2013

The United States is at a critical juncture in its economic development.  Many opinions are being voiced about the best direction, but the fundamental need at the heart of the matter is workforce readiness. How is our nation addressing the skills gap with the growing workforce demands and the challenges facing our higher education system.
Join APSCU for our Inaugural State of the Workforce Symposium on December 9th and 10th at the Hyatt Regency, Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Meet a broad audience of influencers from industry, academia and government as we discuss three potentially crippling gaps:
  • The skills gap that impacts workforce readiness and an employers' ability to fill current and future in-demand jobs.
  • The academic capacity gap that limits the number of students that can be served via traditional postsecondary institutions.
  • The opportunity gap of access to higher education and the jobs those degrees can lead to.
Private sector colleges and universities provide nearly four million students with access to the education and skills training necessary to successfully compete for future high-demand occupations.
This convening will address not only the immediate employment and skills gap issue, but also what America will need in order to grow its economy and rebuild middle class opportunity. The dialogue will examine emerging occupational demands and our collective role in preparing workers for skilled, well-paying jobs that will contribute to the country's global leadership position.
Attendees will:
  • Hear the latest thinking from today's issue leaders including employers, economists, workforce experts, and policy makers.
  • Gain insight into how postsecondary education institutions are developing their programs to better align their constituents for the needs of the workplace.
  • Network with today's business leaders to discuss how postsecondary education is working with industry to be part of the solution.
Join us for this thought-provoking Symposium and add your voice to the collective dialogue about the imperative issue of workforce education and career skills and, more importantly, making it happen.



Questions or Sponsorship?
Email or call 202.336.6700.

APSCU Press Release: APSCU Best Practices Sets Benchmark for Recruitment and Admissions

October 16, 2013

Noah Black,

APSCU Best Practices Sets Benchmark for Recruitment and Admissions

Washington, DC—In an effort to continue its excellence in education and put students first, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) released "Best Practices in Recruitment and Admissions." The recommendations address ways all postsecondary institutions can reach out to prospective students, as well as the protocols they observe in one-on-one admissions and enrollment practices.

"Today, students have a myriad of options for postsecondary education. We are committed to ensuring that transparency, information and understanding of the institution's offerings and obligations are essential steps for a successful academic outcome," said Steve Gunderson, the president and CEO of APSCU. "We encourage all postsecondary institutions to review these best practices and adopt recommendations that will provide students with the information they need to succeed."

To develop these best practices, APSCU established a Task Force on Recruitment and Admissions, which convened several postsecondary education, admissions, and recruitment professionals. The task force was led by Co-chairs Jim Hutton of Keiser University/KUCCEL and Mitch Talenfeld of MDT Direct. The methods and techniques were cultivated from APSCU's member institutions that meet the needs of the extremely diverse group of prospective student interested in attending a postsecondary institution.

"We recognize that our institutions are diverse in size, in the programs they offer, in the students they serve, and in how they engage prospective students through the recruitment and admissions processes," said Hutton. "Our goal as a task force was to offer a series of recommendations for best practices that best serve prospective students, while offering examples for all of higher education to consider."

These best practices offer all institutions examples of programs that best serve the growing new traditional student population. New traditional students often balance the needs of family, full-time or part-time work and postsecondary education.

The best practices include recommendations, such as:
  • Establish appropriate internal control systems to review and certify the accuracy, timeliness, and clarity of all consumer information.
  • Develop, maintain, and periodically review recruitment marketing policies and procedures to ensure they comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations and accrediting agency requirements.
  • Require prospective students to affirm in writing their receipt (written and/or electronic) of required disclosures and documents.
  • Ensure that all promotional materials on websites, in printed materials, and on television, radio, and billboards are reviewed and approved by appropriate internal or external personnel to promote compliance with federal and state laws and regulations and accrediting agency requirements.
  • Incorporate a meaningful and transparent dialogue between institutional representatives and prospective students.
  • Establish appropriate protocols for the selection and training of professionals engaged in the admission and enrollment process.
  • Establish trainings to precede direct engagement with prospective students.
This is the third in a set of four such recommendations. The previously released best practices were Best Practices for Military and Veteran Students and Best Practices in Career Services and Placement.

Inside Higher Ed: Citing Shutdown, U.S. Cancels Gainful Employment Negotiating Session

October 11, 2013 
The U.S. Education Department, citing the partial shutdown of the federal government, has canceled the second round of negotiations over regulations on vocational programs at community colleges and for-profit institutions. 

The department will reschedule the negotiated-rulemaking session when the government reopens, Lynn Mahaffie, the acting deputy assistant secretary for policy, planning and innovation, wrote in a letter on Friday to members of the rule making committee. The session was originally slated for October 21-23.

The panel is tasked with rewriting the "gainful employment" regulations that were thrown out by a federal judge earlier this year. The rules would cut off federal money flowing to career-training programs if they do not meet certain standards that measure their graduates’ earnings relative to the graduates’ student loan debt.

The Obama administration is proposing tighter standards that would apply to more vocational programs. At the first negotiating session last month, it appeared unlikely that negotiators would come to a consensus on the rules. Even if the committee doesn’t reach an agreement, the Education Department could still move forward with its own proposal.

Atlanta Business Chroncile: For-profit education a growing presence

Dave Williams

Friday, October 4, 2013, 2:11pm EDT

America’s for-profit colleges and universities are playing an increasingly important role in supplying higher education that meets workforce demands, a leader in the field said in Atlanta this week.

“Our schools really have their ears to the ground as to what the market is,” Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities told Atlanta Business Chronicle. “Our sector is responsive to the needs partly because we have the flexibility to do it.”

Gunderson represented Wisconsin in Congress during the 1980s and ‘90s. He said when he arrived in Washington, only about 4 percent of American college students were enrolled in a for-profit school.
That percentage has risen since then to 14 percent, Gunderson said.

In Georgia, for-profit colleges and universities make up 44 percent of total post-secondary institutions. Atlanta alone has more than 40 for-profits.

Gunderson said a key reason for the growth in popularity of for-profit colleges and universities is the increasing number of students attending college as adults – many in mid-career ­– rather than directly from high school.

“An awful lot more people are going to school as adults,” he said. “With limited public resources, the viability of public schools to respond to that growth in demand isn’t there.”

The numbers in Georgia confirm Gunderson’s description of students most likely to attend a for-profit school.

According to the association, 72 percent are 25 or older. Fifty-one percent are African-Americans.
During the 2010-2011 school year, 10,622 students earned certificates, while 7,701 earned degrees, numbers that point to the for-profits’ emphasis on career training.

Indeed, for-profit schools that year made up 49 percent of degrees and certificates awarded in Georgia to graduates of courses in personal and culinary services, and 29 percent of awards to students who completed courses in health care and related professions.

Gunderson said a big advantage for students of for-profits is that they can complete their education faster than in traditional colleges and universities. It takes just 18 months to get an associate’s degree from a for-profit and three years to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“We go year-round,” Gunderson said. “It’s a different mind-set and culture.”