Committee Tasked With Creating Standards For For-Profit Colleges Folds Under Industry Pressure

Tim Goral's picture

The effort to hold Wisconsin for-profit colleges accountable for graduation and employment outcomes was scuttled last week after strong opposition from the schools and influential lawmakers.

The Educational Approval Board, which decides whether for-profit colleges can operate in the state, shut down a committee charged with developing standards for them.

The committee had met just once, on Feb. 22, a meeting highlighted by testimony opposing the standards by representatives from numerous for-profit colleges.

Earlier that month, Gov. Scott Walker replaced three members of the seven-member approval board. There is one vacancy.

Then on March 12, Rep. Steve Nass, chairman of the Assembly higher education committee, wrote in an email to the approval board that it should suspend the committee and work "in a more cooperative atmosphere" with the schools.

"I believe this process is very premature," Rep. Nass wrote.

He called the regulation efforts — which would have required the colleges to show that at least 60 percent of students who started programs finished and got jobs in their fields — well-intentioned but needing more study and input.

Some national observers took a different view, noting that similar measures throughout the country typically meet the same fate against the well-funded for-profit college industry.

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