Ashford University placed on notice by HLC

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Shawn Ambrose, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member

  2. rmm0484

    rmm0484 Member

  3. icecom3

    icecom3 New Member

    “An institution is placed on notice if it is found to be pursuing a course of action that could result in its being unable to meet one or more Criteria for Accreditation.” That's all it means.

    All AU has to do is address the issue. Accreditation renewed. This is a common challenge for distance learning. Same thing happened to UoP. So this is no big deal as of yet.
  4. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Unfortunately for AU, the issue at stake here may not a be simple one to fix.

    AU's roots are as a small non-profit B&M college in Iowa, with regional accreditation from HLC (which covers the State of Iowa). The school was then acquired by Bridgepoint Education, a for-profit company based in San Diego, California. Bridgepoint rebuilt AU into a DL superpower; the B&M campus in Iowa still exists, but it is tiny compared to the DL operations, which are based in California.

    Eventually HLC said: we aren't the right accreditor for you any more. AU is now a California school, not an Iowa school. You need to go get regional accreditation from WASC (which covers the State of California).

    So AU applied for accreditation with WASC. They got rejected last year.

    So now AU is in a bind. WASC refused to accredit them in California. They still have their old Iowa accreditation from HLC, but HLC won't renew it, because AU currently operates from California, which is not an HLC state.

    So to maintain their HLC accreditation, they would have to relocate their operations from California to an HLC state (Arizona is the closest). That would be not a simple thing to do, because Bridgepoint is one of the largest private companies in the San Diego area, with several thousand employees.

    Bridgepoint's stock fell by about 50% last year when the WASC accreditation news was announced, and has not recovered.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2013
  5. icecom3

    icecom3 New Member

    You are right, so correction...this is a big deal for AU.

    I wonder what this would mean for graduates of AU if accreditation is lost. I would imagine anyone that graduated while the school was accredited has an accredited degree right? I hope that would mean credit could still be transferred to other school systems...yikes.
  6. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, they earned an accredited degree.
  7. Maxwell_Smart

    Maxwell_Smart Active Member

    Accredited or not; If I'm the hiring manager and I see your only degree is from Ashford, then you'd better have one helluva background/verifiable track record. Otherwise, your resume is going straight to the shredder, not even the circular file.
  8. icecom3

    icecom3 New Member

    I know a few execs that got their degree from AU, you might be surprised to know they did not get any stupider.

    Personally, I would conciser background first anyway. I have had to work with some real tools with "great educations" in the past. Where they earned the degree says nothing about their emotional intelligence, work ethic, or drive once you give them a job.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2013
  9. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Of course, AU may have other options, including the following:

    - stay in California, address the concerns raised by WASC, and reapply for regional accreditation from WASC
    - stay in California, apply for national accreditation (from DETC or some other NA agency)
    - stay in California without regional or national accreditation (which is legal in California, if a school has state approval)

    The problem with the first option is that it could take time, and their old HLC accreditation is running out.
    The problem with the second and third options is that AU's programs would be less attractive without RA, and would presumably have to be discounted.
    The third option has an additional problem: AU students would not be eligible for federal financial aid without recognized accreditation.

    So AU has options, but they all have problems, so it's not entirely clear what their future strategy will be.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2013
  10. Maxwell_Smart

    Maxwell_Smart Active Member

    There are execs who never went to college. There are some who lied on their resumes and pulled off elaborate schemes to fake having graduated from high profile colleges (a big name music exec once did this to get his job). And for the execs you mentioned holding AU degrees, I'd be surprised if their AU degrees made them any smarter. Very surprised. Hell, had they bought the course materials themselves and studied on their own, they might have actually challenged themselves to study the books cover-to-cover because lord knows AU's course design never called for that when I was there, lol.

    Anyway, the degree itself is not the point. Dave Thomas was a highly rich and successful guy who'd dropped out of high school and didn't graduate until 45 years later and even then it was a GED (not downing a GED, just saying).

    The point is that some schools have the quality level to prepare you better than others, and a school like Ashford has had enough questions to its quality now that it's ability to do so is questionable to say the least.

    That all depends. If a person came through the door with a milled degree from a terribly fake school, then no amount of glowing background should make a difference, because at that point you're dealing with a fraud who needs to get the hell outta there, or at the very least you're dealing with a person with poor judgement who still needs to get the hell outta there, lol. But like I said, a person with an AU degree HAS to have a sparkling background because there is no way a degree from there would be a favorable tipping factor in my decision.

    So while an AU degree is not a milled degree, the quality of education received there has been deemed questionable by accrediting authorities, and absolutely that should have a bearing on how an applicant is viewed. If not, that hiring manager shouldn't be hiring people.
  11. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Why not go back to Iowa where they came from and focus on getting their HLC accreditation renewed?
  12. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    That's another option. But as of 2010, Bridgepoint had nearly 4,800 employees in the San Diego area -- it was the fifth largest private employer in the San Diego metro area (which has about the same population as the entire state of Iowa).

    It might be expensive to relocate thousands of employees -- and their families -- from San Diego, California to Clinton, Iowa. There might not even be enough housing for several thousand new residents in Clinton (population: 26,885). And that's assuming that current Bridgepoint employees can be convinced to go -- many of them might be reluctant to move from a coastal city in California to a small town in Iowa. And if they don't want to go, then it might be difficult to find thousands of qualified people in the greater Clinton area to replace them.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2013
  13. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Another news item from 2010:

    So BPI occupies some 672,000 square feet of office space (more than 15 acres) over six buildings (that was in 2010, they could be bigger now). Does Clinton, Iowa have this kind of office capacity -- along with state-of-the-art internet service ?

    Bridgepoint could conceivably move to HLC territory, but it won't be to Clinton. Think Phoenix or Denver (they already have some Denver operations, because they also own University of the Rockies).
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2013
  14. CavTrooper

    CavTrooper New Member

    Look I get the stigma that goes along with some for-profit schools like UoP or AU but to say you'd automatically shred someone's resume if their degree came from AU is incredibly naive and narrowminded. I took about 10-12 classes through AU, and despite their for profit status, the quality of the coursework was right on par with state institutions and other schools I've taken classes through. In fact, I had to do more homework with AU than I currently do at (brick and mortar) GWU, where I take grad classes. Not to mention, my professor at GWU who was a career staffer on Capitol Hill and the chief of staff to a Senator, holds a MBA from UoP. Go figure. I work in Human Resources and every now and then I come across an AU grad or student - most of them seem pretty bright and most of them so far have made it through my job interview.

    *edit* My point in sum is that the actual quality of AU seems pretty legitimate to me, despite their for profit status. They use good textbooks, professors provide good feedback, and they require a standard of academic performance which results (at least in my opinion) in a decent education.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2013
  15. Petedude

    Petedude New Member

    I think moving back to IA would be a good move, but yes, it would not come easy. There's not only housing and logistics of moving employees to consider, but. . . the majority simply wouldn't move. They would lose not only a lot of expertise and experience, but also a lot of simple daily operational "know-how" (e.g. "Jane in Purchasing always took care of that for us. Oops, we don't have Jane, who does that now?").

    All things considered, I would say: Keep Bridgepoint HQ in CA, move enough administrative staff and tenured professors to IA to set up principal AU HQ there. Set up some satellite campuses in and around the area, if that'll help. Do just enough to satisfy HLC for now and keep the doors open. The rest can be fixed when there's less time pressure.
  16. icecom3

    icecom3 New Member

    ah, I get it now. Another disgruntled online learner. I think you are speaking for your self now, you should have tried harder and read the book "cover-to-cover" as you said.

    Abraham Lincoln taught himself how to read in a country cabin. Albert Einstein accomplished what other physicists could not...locked away in his apartment...all from inside his head. Self-learning is not for everyone, and it is not ideal for every field.

    Most of the people that attend AU are adult learners. Many of them are already "made" people, and these are not the people complaining about their time there. Sorry it did not work out for you.

    But I would agree, that if one believes having a degree at AU will give them a big break just by putting "Ashford University" on their resume, they are using poor judgment.
  17. Maxwell_Smart

    Maxwell_Smart Active Member

    I see, you're trying to be a jack. I get it now. Well done, you've succeeded. Nevertheless, let me correct you on a number of things, as people who try that endeavor of being a jack usually do need correcting often...

    First of all, while I may have been a "disgruntled online learner" through the school of highly questionable quality called Ashford University in, what? 2005, 2006?, I have since become an experienced and accomplished online learner having earned 4 college degrees (one of which is a graduate degree), 2 college diplomas, and several certifications. And before you attempt to make it as if my opinion of AU has no backing, stop, take a moment, and educate yourself about the findings of TWO REGIONAL ACCREDITORS who have a similar opinion and many questions and challenges to the academic quality (among other issues) of Ashford. Search for it, it's not hard to find. When you do find it, accept it and deal with it, because it's real and there is no amount of trying to pretend it's not or coming up with some slick comment towards me that will change it.

    But hey, regional accreditors publicly announcing the school's numerous issues, thousands of former students doing the same, and even past and current faculty joining in... all means nothing, right? Ashford is fine and everyone else is crazy. Just stop it.

    I'm really tired of people trying to defend something that's already been publicly determined by REGIONAL ACCREDITORS to not be up to snuff. The whole "it's just your opinion" nonsense went out the window a long time ago now since accrediting authorities started posting their findings of Ashford's many issues and putting Ashford on notice. Do you see what's going on? You think this is all some kind of ruse by all of these people and everyone is in on it? Or can't you possibly conceive that this school has a lot of problems that have gone unfixed for a long, long time? If you can't, then it's time to start.

    What does that have to do with anything? You've completely misunderstood the point I was making, and honestly it was a pretty simple point to understand. Let's try this:

    Ask yourself; do you think it's a good idea to charge your students $100+ or more for "custom" books--some of which were 300 pages of less--even when the class literally used 35-50% or less of the content? Well I sure don't, but that's what was happening when I was there.

    So to explain the point you missed, OBVIOUSLY if the school I attend has a poor course setup, so poor that we're called to only utilize a small percentage of the materials even though clearly a much larger percentage could and should be used, then of course a student might learn more by utilizing more of the material on his/her own especially when much of it that wasn't covered is actually useful. FYI, I know that because I DID read the books cover to cover, but thanks for your smart alec assumption.

    And FYI again, the very program I've talked about was actually eliminated due to its poor quality as determined in combination with its accreditor and Ashford's own internal QA. Of course, I find that somewhat amusing considering that their accreditor has publicly deemed AU's internal QA to be unacceptably poor. My guess is that AU eliminated it moreso because of the accreditors findings rather than its own.

    Horse manure, and you're not sorry about anything. Don't be passive-aggressive with me, I don't care for that.

    Look, I and everyone else attending Ashford at the time I was there was an adult because that was the requirement for the program at that time (had to be at least 24 years old). But the majority of the students I was in class with were far from "made", and most of them really didn't belong in college, which left no surprise that many of them didn't even last past the first week. I was a 4.0 student there who left after a semester because the quality was too poor and the behavior of the staff, administration, and faculty (save for one professor) was despicable.

    Furthermore, I was already doing well long before I had a single degree, and quite frankly I'd still be doing fine without one. I went to Ashford to LEARN MORE, and I did; I learned how awful of a program they were running. And since then, with all of the findings that have come out from 3rd parties, I've learned that very little has changed post-departure.

    Personally, I don't give a rat's about what other people choose to do with their experiences. I choose to voice mine. You don't have to like it, you don't even have to read it or comment on it. No one has forced you to do anything. Don't shoot the messenger. I didn't create the conditions, I was just one of many who had suffer through them.

    Go ask NMTTD about her experiences with Ashford. Her's are more recent than mine, and she went through just as much or more craziness than I did, and no surprise that many of them were exactly the same. Ashford has a lot of problems, that statement is now factual as it is public record as given by the findings of REGIONAL ACCREDITORS. That's the reality.

    Beyond this post, I'm not going to fight with you on something that's already been decided by authorities who are in a better position to make a judgement call on this and have already made that call. If you want to argue that Ashford worked out for a number of people, fine, I agree. If you want to argue that something can be learned from AU, fine, I actually agree. But if you're going to argue that there aren't major problems in that program at both the educational value level and the operations level, then you have no argument because that perspective has already been factually disproven by authoritative accreditation bodies and released by those bodies for public consumption. And to be clear, just because YOU didn't see those problems, or because even thousands of other students didn't see them, it doesn't mean they aren't there or that thousands of other people haven't experienced them.
  18. Maxwell_Smart

    Maxwell_Smart Active Member

    Actually, your entire way of going about this is naive and close-minded. Why? Because you're trying to be apologetic about an issue that's already been confirmed to be terrible by accrediting authorities. I bet if AU loses its accreditation and even more findings beyond the awful ones that have already come out are made, you'll still be here making these naive, apologetic, emotional arguments.

    And by the way, this has NOTHING to do with AU being for-profit. I couldn't care less what a school's business status is. AU just happens to be for-profit and factually full of major problems. Don't fight me, talk to the accrediting bodies who've said so. Good luck trying to somehow make them forget the truth they've seen with their own eyes, lol...
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2013
  19. icecom3

    icecom3 New Member

    @ Max

    I may have sounded a little like a jerk, but that was not my goal. Saying you would send somebody's resume straight into a shredder because of AU might also seem a bit jerky right?

    Anyway, I won't argue with you either. But as mentioned earlier in this threat, the accreditation problem is much more complicated than simply saying AU is a **** school.

    Another thing, maintaining accreditation is an ongoing process. Its not like they just got handed accreditation and went rogue since 2005.

    Problems with curriculum and hiring practices can be fixed, however it seems AU got themselves in a pickle by moving HQ. <----- this is the problem it seems
  20. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I would consider naysaying from HLC to be evidence of a problem, but not open-and-shut evidence. HLC's decision makers are under pressure themselves, and the whole system of peer accreditation has been under fire from federal policy makers who want to take control, both in the current administration and the one before. I'm not saying I disbelieve them, and I'm not defending Ashford, I'm just saying it bears further inquiry than just asking what HLC reports say.

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