08.04.10

For-Profit Education Sector Must Not Be Examined in a Vacuum

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, today urged continued scrutiny of student recruitment tactics at for-profit universities, but warned that an objective examination of misleading recruiting practices must take into account the full spectrum of higher education institutions.  Simply put, bad actors should not be used to characterize the entire for-profit education sector.

“We are going to hear details of aggressive and inappropriate recruiting practices at for-profit universities. Use of pressure tactics, deceitful marketing and outright lies to mislead students has absolutely no place in education,” said Enzi, during a HELP Committee hearing. “It is crystal clear that some programs at for-profit schools are misleading students and possibly defrauding taxpayers out of millions of dollars in student aid funds.  However, in focusing only on for-profits, we are not being objective, and we are ignoring the bigger picture of what is happening across all of higher education.”

“In the coming months, and as we enter into the next Congress, I will be working to lay the ground-work for a broader, thorough and more fair investigation into higher education.  Specifically, are the taxpayers getting value for the investments that they make to all institutions of higher education,” Enzi said.

He added: “We should be scrutinizing all sectors of higher education and asking the same questions the Committee is now only asking of for-profit institutions. For-profits are part of a much broader community of postsecondary schools that includes public four and two-year schools, as well as private non-profit schools.”

Even Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Enzi emphasized, has said, “for-profit institutions play a vital role in training young people and adults for jobs.” 

“If these hearings are to be meaningful, the for-profit sector must not be examined in a vacuum.  Understanding how each sector of higher education relates to the other is the best way for us to ensure that students are protected and that the taxpayers are getting the best return on their investment.”

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Craig Orfield (202) 224-6770