Kansas higher-education officials are expressing concern over the increasing number of students attending for-profit colleges.
A recent national report based on a two-year investigation by the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee alleged widespread problems in for-profit schools.
The report found:
• For-profit colleges received $30 billion per year in taxpayer funds.
• Most of the schools charge higher tuition than community colleges or public universities.
• Many of the schools use predatory and misleading tactics to recruit students.
• Graduate rates are extremely low.
• Many of the for-profit college chief executive officers are paid outlandish salaries.
“These practices are not the exception — they are the norm; they are systematic throughout the industry, with very few exceptions,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the committee.
The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities defended the colleges’ performance, accusing Harkin’s report of twisting facts “in the tradition of ideology overriding reality.”
But at last week’s Kansas Board of Regents retreat, several board members wondered whether public higher education institutions were doing enough to recruit students who now are attending for-profit colleges.
Wichita State University President John Bardo, however, said many of the students going to for-profit schools would not be accepted by universities because the students don’t have an adequate academic background.
“Many of the students they are taking are needing remediation,” Bardo said.
But that brought a sharp response from Regents Chairman Ed McKechnie, of Arcadia. “They are potential customers, and taxpayers. If they don’t fit us, that’s not their problem, that’s our problem,” McKechnie said.
Several higher education officials said they would study the issue more and possibly contact some of the students who chose a for-profit school over a regents university or community college to see why they made that decision.