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Home > Article Categories > Medical Vocational Articles > Dr. Henry Bienen's Defense on For-profit Education

Dr. Henry Bienen's Defense on For-profit Education

For-profit education companies have been in the limelight, covered all over the news in both mainstream and financial media. anecdotal accounts of students saddled with high debt, violations in recruitment, school certification problem, and many more examples of bad behavior. Hedge fund manager Steve Eisman's presentation is one of the financial world's most talked about topics.

Dr. Henry Bienen, a vice chairman of the board of Rasmussen Inc., a for-profit college, and president emeritus of Northwestern University wrote an opinion in defense of for-profit colleges in The Wall Street Journal.

The growth of for-profits was even compared by Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) and financier Steven Eisman to the sub-prime mortgage bubble.

The facts according to Dr. Bienen:

The for-profit field has grown swiftly over the last decade. As of 2008, it included 9% of students enrolled in American colleges and universities. For-profit colleges offer courses from vocational schools that award certificates for culinary or beautician training to schools that grant bachelor's, nursing, medical, and master of business degrees. Regional accreditation, which is the highest type, from the same organizations that certify top public and private universities, is what some of these schools have.

Some of for-profit institutions' graduation rates are well above 50%, either as high or higher than those of numerous four-year public colleges, not to mention community colleges and non-selective public and private colleges ? which often have rates below 50%.

Students who attend for-profits typically work during the day and go to school at night. Often they matriculate online. They may be single mothers. They borrow not just for tuition but for general expenses. And they do have relatively high default rates. Their average two-year default rate is 11%. For public nonprofits the rate is 5.7% and for private nonprofits it is 3.7%.

Graduation rates of all schools are motivated by selectivity and demographics which includes the income, race, age, and prior education of students and their parents educational attainment. For-profits students usually work during the day and attend school in the evening. Largely, they enroll online. Their default rates are relatively high. Their average two-year default rate is 11% compared to public nonprofits rate of 5.7% and for private nonprofits rate of only 3.7%.

Default rates are demographics driven like graduation rates. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of degrees are allotted to minorities at for-profit colleges. These are students who tend to have, on average, limited financial capability and more likely to be the first in their families to pursue college. Twenty percent (20%) of graduates at public nonprofits are minorities. Furthermore, 76% of students attending for-profit colleges pays for their own expenses. Parents are not supporting them. Student borrowings are not controlled by colleges, therefore, they can't control how much debt students accumulate.

With regards to career placement, more than 90% of graduates of Rasmussen College, with which Dr. Bienen is associated with, are currently employed, regardless of the recession. Dr. Bienen is proud to say that there is a high placement rates for students of for-profits colleges who get degrees in business administration, medical technology, information technology and design.

Admittedly, Dr. Bienen said that many students at for-profits face the risk of not finishing their degrees, as increasing access and opportunity do not always result to high graduation rates. He argues that critics and education officials need to realize that increased access is likely to mean strains on graduation rates. Though that is not an argument against providing nontraditional students an education that would otherwise be unreachable

For-profit colleges leads in the online education. And it will be critical in the 21st century according to President Barack Obama and the Department of Education. A lot of nonprofits still do not possess the expertise or financial capacity to develop, dispense, and support effective online programs. Leading some to agree to an online-education partnerships with for-profit institutions.

Dr. Bienen explained that t is not a secret that students at for-profits use federal Pell Grants and Title IV loans to help pay their tuition. For-profits, on the other hand, use private capital for construction and not state or federal funds for budgets for their operations, and they also don't squander taxpayers funds to hold down tuition rates ? as every state university does.

Because of cost pressures, nonprofit public universities such as the University of California are already cutting access. Besides, many students are now failing to find suitable places in state and community colleges. For-profit colleges provide these students ways to better careers and higher income. No one will benefit from hindering a growing sector that is training under-served people.

According to Ben Strubel who made an in-depth analysis of the education sector and examined some of Eisman's arguments, he found out that in many cases the allegations against for-profits have some basis in reality, but tend to be overblown or affect the educational system as a whole.

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