Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by agschmidt, Jul 10, 2012.
For-profit Ashford University loses accreditation bid | Inside Higher Ed
A 50% dropout rate does seem rather high.
This is the biggest problem, IMO (emphasis mine): "Ashford employed only 56 full-time faculty members in 2011, with 2,458 part-time faculty members...[and] has 14 writing specialists and 38 instructional specialists on staff, both inadequate numbers according to the accreditor. In contrast, the university employed 2,305 staff members in enrollment services."
To any prospective students of this clown college, read this quote from the article:
"As for academics, Ashford had conducted systematic reviews of only six of its 80 academic programs. And the commission found that the university had not thoroughly assessed the quality of its online course offerings. As a result, the commission said it had “serious concerns about the rigor of coursework, which varied from course to course and was not always at the appropriate level.”
The first and second sentences tell you Ashford's own internal quality assurance is an absolute joke.
I want to applaud WASC for stepping up and doing the right thing here. More regional accreditors need to step up because Ashford isn't the only RA school with a substandard system in need of having its accreditation denied or outright stripped.
I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but over the years the same complaints I've made about Ashford have been made by so many other students across the internet, and now a regional accreditor is saying similar things, so it shows that they haven't improved much if at all since I wisely got the hell away from them.
Now we just need the HLC to wake up and this school will take its rightful place as unaccredited.
Yeah, because they're not concerned with delivering a quality education, they're just concerned with enrolling as many students as possible to maximize profits. Granted, in all honesty, most school think the same way it's just that Ashford is more blatant about it than many other institutions.
Maybe most for-profit schools take that position. I doubt you'd find many non-profit schools with a nearly equal number of enrollment staff and faculty.
Here is a link to WASC's report
For those of us who have worked in both private and public sector education, we know that student enrollments are just as important to a state university as they are to a for-profit university. However, when there is a disproportionately small investment in instruction and student services, when compared to enrollment, that is where we problems, such as high attrition.
While education certainly can learn much from the best parts of business and industry, it can also learn the wrong lessons from its worst parts. Example: How many of you get put on hold forever when you contact a company's customer service department but, when you contact sales, can get through immediately?
The HLC has been accused of being easier to get accreditation through than WASC. Many online universities have been accused of moving their headquarters into HLC territory for this very reason. It's subsequently interesting to note that when Ashford University attempted to transfer their online regional accreditation from HLC to WASC, it was denied by WASC.
Hmm. Ashford is located in Iowa, but their (now ex-)accreditor is the Western Association?
Not a complete surprise, but I'm bummed for the alumni who had positive experiences, including a few posters on this board.
Hopefully Ashford can at least line up DETC accreditation to fill in while they work out their RA issues.
Ashford had the raw resources and talent to do much, much better than this. It's a shame organizations will ruin themselves to grasp at every last dollar. Worse, I'm seeing this trend outside education, as well.
Okay, some coffee and a little light reading later. . .
Now that I've had time to digest the article, it really seems that Ashford is providing a decent education to the students who stay, but that their extreme growth was making them (and their accreditor) look bad.
I don't see them trying to move 5K employees from California. I'm betting it's more likely they'll open up satellite campuses in HLC's zone. Bridgepoint has deep enough pockets-- I think they can pull it off.
I like the New Charter/Patten U deal. I'm hoping the new management hasn't messed up what used to be AJU, and that they'll use Patten for a solid launching ground (as well as maybe a better name!).
Ted, Petedude and all: As I understand it, they still have active and current HLC NCA accreditation. They were trying to acquire WASC accreditation on the basis of most of their students by far being enrolled in their online division, which is based in San Diego. WASC accreditation was refused (in this first attempt, at least) but their HLC NCA accreditation remains (subject to no adverse action and until its next review, at least).
For the love of God...whoever wrote that article should have their journalism card pulled. Ashford did not lose accreditation, they are still accredited by the HLC (as they always have been) The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association
They don't have their next comprehensive review until 2014.
Their first bid to the WASC was rejected...why? Because they were trying to get a room full of servers accredited (essentially their corporate offices) rather than the physical school itself and then wrap the accreditation around the physical school. Ashford and even the WASC have been talking about this for at least a couple of years. The HLC stated that they intend on dropping accreditation for Ashford if they do not have what they call a "significant" portion of their staff and infrastructure within a geographic area they operate in. Read: Transfer their corporate offices and online infrastructure to Iowa (or nearby). This isn't news...and given Ashford extremely robust budget, I do not see them losing accreditation anytime soon, even if it takes moving every employee they have into Senator Harkin's back yard.
So let's not get all hyper just yet.
For an "open university"? The Open University of England has a 30% drop out rate... my local community college has a 41% drop out rate and the University of Phoenix who is Ashford's biggest competition (according to sources cited in Wikipedia) has a dropout rate of 74%. Heck even the non-open enrollment (non-profit) Grambling State has a 44% dropout rate for 1st year students.
I will also add that with Ashford's resources, this could very well end up in the courts. However, Ashford has been given an HLC deadline of December 31 to explain the physical presence issue.
I believe that Ashford will try to work it out with WASC - I've glanced through the report, and Ashford has the capabilities to fulfill the assessment issues, program review issues, etc., but it will mean shifting priorities.
The B&M campus is in my community. They "inherited" their RA status, they didn't earn it. Now, clearly, they've failed to maintain it.
What makes you think that Ashford is located in Iowa?
It's true that Ashford University has a historic B&M campus in Iowa, with approximately 950 enrolled students.
But Ashford University's online division, with approximately 95,000 enrolled students, is operated from San Diego. In fact, Bridgepoint Education (the parent company of Ashford) is currently the ninth-largest employer in the San Diego metro area, with a local economic impact to San Diego of over $1 billion. They have a high profile in California as the sponsors of the Holiday Bowl in college football. The owners and administrators of Ashford all live and work in southern California -- not in Clinton, Iowa. If you call the President's office at the Iowa campus, the phone call is transferred to San Diego.
Ashford's roots are as a small B&M college in Iowa, and so they were historically accredited by HLC-NCA. After the change in ownership, Ashford suddenly became a huge online school headquartered in San Diego. So HLC told Ashford to go get accreditation from WASC instead.
It's widely believed that Bridgepoint pulled a fast one on NCA. WASC is aware of this history, and is going to make it harder this time.
I believe no matter what side of the fence you find yourself on, I think everyone would agree that if 56/2458 ratio of instructors versus enrollment personnel, there is a problem. When you enrollment personnel out number your instructors 43:1, it's safe to say they are more motivated to take your money than offering their students a solid education. It things like this that get the for-profit schools in trouble all the time, and shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
Basically Ashford has lost its bid for WASC accreditation however are they still NCA accredited? If they are, I'm assuming this last review will put a dent on that status.
Or helping you find a job. At Bridgepoint, the recruiting staff outnumber job placement counselors by 1,703 to 1.
Some other interesting numbers from the same story:
- per-student expenditures on recruiting: $2,700
- per-student expenditures on education: $700
- per-student profit: $1,500
- percent of revenue that comes directly from the federal government: 86 %
- compensation for Bridgepoint CEO: $20,500,000 (that's just for 2009).
Separate names with a comma.