It's been another exciting week for career colleges. In a Seattle Times editorial Jim McFarland, a former chairman of the board of trustees of the Art Institute of Seattle, defends career colleges as being "vital to maintaining a strong work force in Seattle and the state of Washington." "I know," he continues, "because I was board chair of the Art Institute when we grew from 800 students to more than 2,400 in a 15-year period."
What's more, the "most gratifying numbers ... were tremendous growth in persistence rates and job placements," MacFarland continues. "Annually our persistence rates -- meaning the rate at which students persist toward a degree in consecutive quarters -- and our job placement rates are substantially higher than public schools."
A letter to the editor of The Philadelphia Times echoes McFarland's sentiment. "The career-college sector has achieved popularity in part because the schools offer flexible classes, convenient locations, online learning and in-demand skills training -- items that more traditional institutions of higher learning still lack," the letter reads. "And when comparing student success against community colleges, career colleges outperform on many levels."
However, NBC Washington reports that Maryland and a handful of other states aim to regulate career colleges: "Maryland General Assembly passed a bill this week that would regulate the activities of for-profit colleges, a fast-growing sector of higher education that has, until recently, received little attention from state and federal legislators."
The NBS Washington article goes on to report that the bill "would prohibit commissions, incentive payments, and bonuses for student recruitment and require for-profit colleges to notify students if they initiate a program with the Maryland Higher Education Commission's recommendation. It also establishes a fund that would reimburse students in the case of a breach-of-contract."
The debate rages on, with important points being raised on both sides. You can only hope that some agreement happens within the next few months.