The Obama Administration intensely disliked for-profit higher education. Political appointees in the U.S. Department of Education (Robert Shireman particularly stands out) as well as Democrats in Congress (e.g., former Senator Tom Harkin, current Senator Dick Durbin) constantly attacked the sector. Most of them probably thought that businesses should not make profits from education, which they consider primarily a public good appropriately only provided by nonprofit schools. All sorts of regulations were imposed: state certification requirements (forcing online companies to get state bureaucratic approval in every state in which they operated), gainful employment rules, etc. These restrictions were ostensibly designed to protect student consumers from fraud, but since in most cases they did not apply to public not-for-profit institutions, they were highly discriminatory –clearly an attempt to stamp out the schools. The effects of this are still being felt, as evidenced by the recent decision by the Education Corporation of America to close dozens of campuses with thousands of students. To be sure, there were a number of “bad apples”engaging in deceptive practices, although a non-discriminatory policy would have closed down some public institutions as well with very poor academic and employment outcomes.
tags: This Month