- The 11 campuses of the for-profit chain Center for Excellence in Higher Education (CEHE) have been put on probation by the chain's accrediting body, which issued an 80-page letter claiming CEHE used misleading marketing practices, put enrollment over academics and discriminated against some students, Inside Higher Education reported. CEHE operates Stevens Henager College, CollegeAmerica, California College San Diego and Independence University.
- The findings by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) include CEHE enrollment agreements have an unenforceable 90-day verification period and that one campus blamed its poor performance on negative stereotypes associated with Native Americans, who comprise 65% of the college's student population.
- ACCSC's letter comes amid a yet-unresolved lawsuit by the Utah-based CEHE after the Education Department in 2016 denied its request to become a nonprofit. CEHE must respond to ACCSC's findings by Dec. 21, and its status will be reviewed at the accreditor's February 2019 board meeting.
The Trump administration has been accused of softening efforts by the Obama Education Department to withdraw support for for-profit accreditors when, department officials charged, they were not evaluating colleges closely enough. In August, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos delayed for the second time a decision on the fate of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). DeVos has so far restored federal recognition for the accreditor after a federal judge in March ruled that the Obama administration did not review key documents before stripping its authority.
Earlier this year, the Center for American Progress reviewed college accrediting bodies, suggesting they often don't have clear standards for student outcomes, so performance by the colleges isn't a priority and isn't clearly monitored, particularly for regional systems.
Meanwhile, the federal government is seeking to rollback regulations governing for-profit colleges. For example, the Education Department is seeking to eliminate a rule requiring for-profit colleges to prove their graduates could find "gainful employment" upon graduation, and thus be able to pay off their debt.