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Over the course of the summer, the Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos made numerous proposals to deregulate the for-profit education industry
, a sector that received harsh scrutiny
during the former presidential administration, continues eLearningInside News
Photo: Joel Fulgencio, Unsplash.
Among these proposals, DeVos initiated the process of doing away with the gainful employment safeguards that ask institutions to publish data regarding the professional success of their graduates, along with the mandate that ensures institutions provide ‘regular and substantive interaction’
between instructors and students. These measures stand to significantly impact the for-profit and online higher education sector. Many policymakers and journalists approach these issues as if they represent new territory. We have never, after all, taught learners via digital technology at the current scale at which it occurs, and that has produced a series of new advantages and disadvantages. But according to the liberal-leaning New America’s education policy researcher David Whitman, the debate over for-profit (de)regulation stretches back to correspondence courses. It is nothing new.
As Whitman writes, “a look back at history reveals that the regulations that Secretary DeVos plans to rewrite or eliminate have their origins in abuses of federal aid dollars by an earlier form of distance education—correspondence programs, the precursor to today’s distance education.”
When eLearning Inside
digests the many excellent and well-researched reports put out by American think tanks across the political spectrum, there are typically numerous conclusions or takeaways to glean from them. With Whitman’s The Cautionary Tale of Correspondence Schools,
however, there is just one: When it comes to for-profit distance education, history has repeated itself over and over again.The Beginning of Correspondence Courses and Resulting
For-Profit Abuse Correspondence programs date back to the early 19th century. But widespread for-profit abuses of these programs, according to Whitman, began with the G.I. Bill following the conclusion of World War II.
“In the five years that followed Franklin Roosevelt’s signing of the 1944 law, the total number of for-profit schools in the United States tripled, from 1,878 to 5,635,” Whitman writes. “Thousands of new ones opened to serve veterans, and thousands more, ill-suited to provide an education, closed. Contrary to conventional wisdom, more veterans actually used their educational benefits to attend for-profit schools than went to four-year colleges and universities. And many of those programs utilized correspondence education. While 2.2 million vets went to college on the GI Bill, 2.4 million GIs used their educational benefits to enroll in trade and technical and business schools, with another 637,000 veterans taking correspondence courses.”...Enter Online Universities
In the mid-90s, according to Whitman, two phenomena changed the game. The first was the advent of the internet and online learning. The second was the increasing financialization of for-profit colleges.
“A few large for-profit college chains had existed before 1992 and had been traded on the stock exchange,” Whitman writes, “but the giant for-profit corporations that emerged by 2001 had no precedent in the industry. At the time of the Apollo Group’s initial offering in 1994, its flagship University of Phoenix had 33 campuses in eight states and enrolled fewer than 27,000 students. Ten years later, the University of Phoenix had more than 225,000 students, including more than 100,000 students enrolled online, a bigger enrollment than any public university in the nation.”Read more...
Source: eLearningInside News