September 1st, 2010
Irvine, CA – In an open letter to congress, Fardad Fateri, President and CEO of International Education Corporation (IEC), opposed the proposed federal regulation on Gainful Employment. Fateri asserts that US Senate's Help Committee chair Senator Tom Harkin is supporting a federal regulation called Gainful Employment that will prevent millions of low income and ethnically diverse students from pursuing a college education.
The proposed regulation sets formulas that will mostly hurt historically underserved and under-represented students. This proposed regulation targets the career education sector of which IEC is a member and is comprised of for-profit education companies serving hundreds of thousands of students and employing thousands of individuals all over the United States. The US Senate's Help Committee's support of this regulation is in line with their zeal to destroy the sector which will in essence eliminate access to students who need postsecondary education the most in addition to eliminating thousands of jobs all over the country. Students have been flocking to private for-profit institutions because of the sector's ability to provide timely and relevant programs and offer true access to postsecondary education. Ethnic and racial diversity in traditional public and private non-profit universities is rare; in fact, the University of Iowa's own website touts a student population comprised of only 2.4% African American/Black and a 2.8% Hispanic/Latino. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa has been fighting vigorously against the career education sector just because of the for-profit tax status of the companies in the sector.
The entire proprietary postsecondary sector exists because of an incredible need for career education. All the pundits on the US Senate HELP committee must understand that the growth of this sector is not due to ingenious marketing methodology or unconventional recruitment tactics. The for-profit career education sector prepares students for the workforce with tuition rates that are of tremendous value considering that this sector does not have access to additional funding only accessible by public and non-profit colleges and universities. In addition, when referring to recruitment tactics of the for–profit career education sector, let's remember the approaches of traditional public and non-profit colleges and universities who manage to convince students and their sophisticated parents to pay approximately $400,000.00 for an undergraduate degree that will seldom lead to an academically-related career. There are anecdotes on all sides; the most prudent approach would be to focus on thoughtful as well as meaningful decision making grounded in evidence.
The students attending for-profit colleges are smart, ambitious, and they care deeply about their future. So, the claim that these students are naïve and are easily abused is offensive and disrespectful. An individual's household income and ethnicity should not be grounds for unfounded assumptions about their aptitude, judgment and ability. Without the for-profit education sector, millions of students will not have access to post-secondary education because public colleges and non-profit colleges have historically ignored and avoided these students.
When assessing a college, quality demonstrated through student retention, graduation and employment rates must be considered not repayment rate of student loans. Consider the strain on federal entitlement programs when students remain on welfare as opposed to securing employment. And as taxpayers, many companies on the for-profit education side frequently question the lack of accountability for quality in education and lack of fiscal responsibility illustrated through atrocious expenditures of public and non-profit colleges that are tax-exempt.