The Associated Press reports that career colleges have elected to adopt a conduct code designed to prevent the abuses that have sullied the for-profit education industry's reputation and brought scads of bad press.
The code won't be complete until this summer, but according to the Coalition for Educational Success, a focus group that represents the interests of career colleges, it will cover areas ranging from job placement rates and tuition costs to increased transparency with respect to financial aid policies.
The new code comes in response to the U.S. Department of Education's "gainful employment" rule, which aims to limit schools' access to federal financial aid in the event that graduates' debt amounts or default rates reach levels that the federal regulators deem unacceptably high.
Critics of the for-profit education sector met the recent news of a voluntary conduct code with skepticism, considering it stratagem on that sector's part to preempt legally binding federal regs with a pledge to self-police with greater diligence than they'd heretofore shown. Skeptics fear that any self-imposed standards will fall far short of those the "gainful employment" rule.
The AP article reports that such codes are not new. Another leading group in the for-profit sector adopted a similar code 15 years ago. What the recent move to improve for-profit indicates, however, is that the for-profit education sector is prepared to work with governmental regulatory agencies to improve their product. Students in for-profit universities depend on millions of dollars in federal aid to finance their educations. To deny them future assistance means jeopardizing their future success -- and with the economy at an all-time low, what agency would want to take responsibility for destroying employment prospects for millions of students?