Ashford Accreditation Update

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by CalDog, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Bridgepoint Education has announced that they will not appeal the recent decision by WASC to deny accreditation to Ashford University. Instead, they will re-start the WASC accreditation process, by re-applying.

    The negotiations associated with the appeal are confidential, but it seems likely that WASC was getting ready to reject it, based on the following news story:

    This move probably means that Ashford won't be getting WASC accreditation anytime soon. For now, Ashford still has RA from HLC-NCA; however, the WASC rejection has triggered an automatic review of Ashford's HLC-NCA accreditation status. According to HLC-NCA, they will decide the fate of Ashford's accreditation during the February 2013 meeting:

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 30, 2012
  2. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member

    If I were a student at Ashford, unless I could graduate by December, I would transfer.
  3. Fjaysay

    Fjaysay New Member

    I honestly would not be surprised if they lose their accreditation entirely. Then again, someone once told me it's harder to lose accreditation than to gain it.
  4. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    I wouldn't be surprised if Bridgepoint Education is acquired by a different company before February 2013, with Ashford then being merged into a different regionally-accredited for-profit university. Most likely a big player, like UoP, Kaplan, DeVry, etc.

    Could be a win-win for everybody:

    -- New owners get Bridgepoint cheap, because their stock value has tanked. This means an inflow of 90,000 Ashford students, in an era of falling enrollments.

    -- Bridgepoint gets to cash out while Ashford still has some value. If they wait and Ashford's accreditation is withdrawn by HLC, its value will only drop further.

    -- Current students won't have to deal with accreditation uncertainties anymore. And they can graduate without the Ashford name on their diplomas.

    -- The accreditors can start working with a new management team that they might have more confidence in.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 1, 2012
  5. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member

    Didn't think about that before, but this makes a lot of sense. Thinking out loud here, I wonder how HLC would handle this? If Ashford were to be purchased, how does HLC handle the accreditation of the purchasing school?

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    Wow! $25.00 per share was in February 2012, and now is only $ 10.29. That seems to be threaten!

    Source: Bridgepoint Education Inc
  7. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Presumably the buyer has RA in good standing with one of the regional accreditors. The buyer requests a modification to their existing RA, which would include the addition of Ashford's operations. The buyer would have to provide some assurance that Ashford would be managed using the same procedures and to the same standards as their existing accredited operations.

    It can be done. Kaplan acquired Concord Law School, which was DETC-accredited, a few years ago. Then their regional accreditation (through HLC) was modified to cover Concord. If an RA school can "absorb" an NA school like that, then presumably it can also absorb another RA school.
  8. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Try googling "Bridgepoint Education shareholder lawsuit" to see how BPI stockholders feel about this change.

    Allegedly, BPI had indications from WASC that Ashford's accreditation was in trouble as early as mid-2011. But this was not publicly disclosed until mid-2012, at which time the stock collapsed almost overnight. Allegedly, BPI managment dumped as much stock as possible before the collapse.
  9. mcjon77

    mcjon77 Member

    What about a strategy of waiting for Ashford to lose accreditation from HLC, then scoop up their students for virtually no cost?
  10. Petedude

    Petedude New Member

    Yeah, but there would be some potential inconveniences in that.

    I would imagine if anyone waits that long, most of the experienced staff needed to execute a seamless transition would have bailed. If student records get screwed up, the acquiring firm could expect a raft of lawsuits as well as more problems with the accrediting agencies. That's before you even consider the number of students transferring out if that happens.

    I would think it best for a potential suitor to snap up Ashford soon before their situation worsens.
  11. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    You could do that -- but couldn't all of your competitors do exactly the same thing?

    Under that scenario, there would probably be a mad scramble for Ashford students. But no school would have a clear advantage.

    How could you gain an advantage? Well, if you bought BPI, you would gain access to all of their student records. You would have the names and contact info for all Ashford students, you would have the names and contact info for all of their teachers, you would know the exact status of each student's progress, and you would know exactly what to offer each student to complete their studies. And since such info is confidential, you would have exclusive access to such information.

    That would give you a huge competitive advantage over other schools. Realistically, most Ashford students would probably stay with you by default.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 1, 2012
  12. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member

    I see the analogy, but in my mind purchasing Concord is different then purchasing a school with 40,000 + students. I don't think HLC (or any RA agency) has totally thought through how an acquisition of such a large school would take place.

    Having said that, the scenario of one of the for profits purchasing Ashford makes a great deal of sense. They have the capital to do it, and HLC (I suspect) would bless such as deal, rather than throw 40,000 + students out on the street.
  13. jam937

    jam937 New Member

    February 2013 is just around the corner. I'll wait until their RA accreditation with NCA-HLC is lost or put on probation in which case their stock will tank again to $5 per share where I will buy some :)
  14. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    This is certainly an issue, and you are actually underestimating it. In July, the President of Ashford stated that the enrollment was "more than 90,000 students". Bridgepoint also owns University of the Rockies, but their enrollment is much smaller, maybe 2,000.

    However, there is one group that might lose out under this scenario.

    Would UoP or DeVry or Kaplan continue to subsidize the operation of a traditional B&M campus in Clinton, Iowa ?

    For example, Ashford has constructed facilities in Clinton for a nonexistent football team. But UoP already has much better facilities for a nonexistent football team.
  15. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Ashford replaces President

    Ashford University has replaced its President. The new president, Dr. Richard Pattenaude, will start on October 19, 2012. The former president, Dr. Elizabeth Tice, will become the executive vice president for academic affairs.

    Dr. Pattenaude recently retired as Chancellor of the University of Maine System. He still has another position, though -- he serves as Chair of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Colleges and Schools (NEASC). NEASC is one of the six regional accreditation agencies.

    Coincidentally, Ashford is currently involved in accreditation issues with two of the other regional accreditation agencies, NCA and WASC.
  16. recruiting

    recruiting Member

    Hummmm the plot thickens...

    Money may not be able to buy love, however it may just fix Ashford's issues. If anyone knows what an accreditation agency wants is this person, and I bet it's costing them plenty. Good, and it should -

    With this new information IMHO I believe that Ashford will now survive. This new Chief will fire and hire the right people to get this school back on track.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2012
  17. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    According to this 2011 news story, Pattenaude's salary as the Chancellor of the University of Maine System was $220,000 per year.

    For comparison, Andrew Clark -- the President/CEO of Bridgepoint Education -- collected $20,532,304 in 2009 alone. It would take 93 years to make that kind of money while running the Maine university system.

    So I suspect that Bridgepoint can easily afford to make this move. My guess is that their new President probably costs less than sponsoring the Holiday Bowl.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2012
  18. Andy Borchers

    Andy Borchers New Member

    HLC and institutional changes

    HLC got burned on a for-profit awhile back (AIU?) and have really become tougher on changes in operations. This encounter brought a threat from the US Dept of Ed. Not to long after this, Rochester College (a school I have been associated with) tried to merge with K12 and HLC said "no".

    Any merger of such a large institution, especially if it amounts to be a "dodge" of WASC, will bring scrutiny.

    R Andy

  19. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    It might also be worth noting that Bridgepoint is undergoing a pretty serious restructuring. They moved a ton of their "sales" staff (the overwhelming majority actually) out of sales, bulked up their student retention services, etc. (cut 450 admissions jobs, reassigned 400) It looks like on the surface they are trying to comply with the WASC recommendations or who knows, may be preparing for the HLC review. Either way they are now also being investigated by the DOJ for how their admissions staff were compensated.

    I still think BPI is going to bounce back strong, though a lot depends on this next election cycle and cooresponding changes at the U.S. Dept. of Ed. I personally do not think that BPI is going to go under, they are just too well funded and have massive access to liquid cash and now seemingly some of the "best friends" money can buy. Who knows but I don't think at $9-10 a share they will be bought by another for profit just yet.

    The biggest losers if the school folds will be all the kids getting a free or mostly free ride at their campus location in Clinton. Ashford has offered academic scholarships to students up to 100% of the cost of education based upon their GPA since after all, it was their online programs that made them money, not on campus. (GPA 3.5 or higher 100%, GPA 3.25 to 3.49 was $12,500 per year, and 3.00 to 3.24 was $10,000 a year). A lot of those kids are from surrounding community colleges. I really hope it works out for Ashford...personally I think it will but I got involved when their stock was just under $9.00 a share. If they jump back up, I'll do okay. If they don't...well, I'm not the biggest loser in this but that will still suck.
  20. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member

    Based on this news release - HLC granted Ashford an extension to meet the substantial presence requirement:

    Bridgepoint Education Media Room - News Releases

Share This Page