Saturday, February 11, 2012

Those Evil For-Profit Colleges...

After hearing the rhetoric from the Obama Administration about for-profit colleges doing whatever it takes to make a buck, what is your first assumption when you read this news story?

Facing pressure to bring in more students as North Dakota's booming oil industry made it tougher to coax new high school graduates into college, Dickinson State University began looking overseas to boost its enrollment.

China, which sends more students to U.S. universities than any other nation, became one of the school's more reliable suppliers of young people.

But as an audit made public Friday revealed, lax recordkeeping and oversight resulted in hundreds of degrees being awarded to students who didn't finish their course work. Others enrolled who couldn't speak English or hadn't achieved the "C'' average normally required for admission.
The report depicts Dickinson State as a diploma mill for foreign students, most of whom were Chinese. Of 410 foreign students who have received four-year degrees since 2003 — most of them in the past four years — 400 did not fulfill all the graduation requirements, it said.
The problem is that while non-profits (both public and private) may have less incentive to play games than for-profits, every institution has a potential problem in this area.  Every institution that has income and expenses must be accountable to someone: shareholders, alumni, or a governmental body, and the incentive to cut corners to make your institution look good is still present, even if the evil, capitalist profit motive is removed.  Because the profit motive is everywhere, sometimes well hidden as improving the pay of your instructors and (especially) your administrators, or even just keeping everyone working.

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