ECA schools influential in new standards for higher education

Sep 14, 2011

Colleges owned by Education Corporation of America (ECA) were early signers of an important new set of standards designed by government and education leaders to improve transparency and disclosure for private sector colleges and universities and other institutions of higher education.

The document, written by the Foundation for Educational Success, an independent 501(c)(3) organization, is called Standards of Responsible Conduct and Transparency.

The Standards, which build on existing federal, state, and accreditation regulations, will ensure that students have comprehensive access to critical information about program costs and typical student outcomes so they can make the most informed decisions.

The Standards provide strong new student protections, including a trial enrollment period, called a "Readiness Opportunity." Some ECA schools implemented such provisional enrollment practices over a year ago.

The extensive process to establish the Standards was led by Edward G. Rendell, former Governor of Pennsylvania; Thomas H. Kean, former Governor of New Jersey; Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Harvard University's Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education; Dr. Jonathan Fanton, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Visiting Fellow at Roosevelt House and former president of the New School; Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, the Executive Director of the Grad Nation campaign for America's Promise Alliance; and Avy Stein and Lincoln Frank, Co-Chairmen for the Coalition for Educational Success. Stein is also Managing Partner of Willis Stein Partners, parent company for ECA.

Initial signers of the Standards agree to uphold and promote its principles across the sector and on their campuses. All ECA-owned schools signed on to the Standards, including Ecotech Institute, Virginia College and Golf Academy of America. These schools are represented by 25 campuses in 12 states plus online learners nationally.

Other participating career colleges include: American Career College; Beckfield College; Blue Cliff College; Career Education Corporation; Concorde Career Colleges, Inc.; Dorsey Schools; Education Affiliates; Kaplan Higher Education Corporation; Ogle School; Star Career Academy; Swedish Institute of Health Sciences; TYI Career Institute; and Vatterott Educational Centers, Inc.

The Standards of Responsible Conduct and Transparency build on extensive efforts to improve and encourage transparency and disclosure across all sectors of higher education. Participating schools will also follow guidelines for improving training of enrollment and financial aid staff. The Standards establish independent enforcement mechanisms to ensure that participating schools adhere to the new principles, as well as a website that will identify those schools that are in compliance with the Standards. Patrick Lynch, former Rhode Island Attorney General, will serve as the Foundation's Compliance Advisor. The Foundation will also manage a student protection website,

"Millions of students enroll in career colleges every year to seek new skills that will put them on a path to new jobs, promotions and higher earnings," said Avy Stein. "We are proud to lead the way with these tough new standards that will improve transparency, disclosure and provide useful information to incoming students across the nation. We hope that everyone in the career college sector and throughout higher education can sign onto these Standards. Our Board views these Standards as a model for higher education institutions of all types nationwide."