Bill Tierney recently authored an article in the Huffington Post titled, “Understanding the Controversy Surrounding For-Profit Higher Education.” The article focused on the challenges faced by for-profit higher education and whether it should play a role in California’s future.
With all this bad press, one might wonder if we should keep for-profits around. I happen to be someone who believes that they are essential to the country’s welfare. We need more people participating in postsecondary education, and our public institutions simply do not have the capacity or wherewithal to grow. If our policy amounts to looking for ways to defund for-profits, such as appears to be the goal in California, we will not improve the long-term economic vitality of the state.
According to several studies, California will need an increase of more than 100,000 postsecondary students next year to meet future economic demands. The ruling by the Student Aid Commission will likely mean 100,000 fewer. That will help balance the state budget in the short-term, but in the long-term we will have to import more workers to fill our jobs or adjust to lower growth rates. Rather than simply shutting down for-profits, we need to help them reform and develop responsible regulations that ensure both consumer protection and a vibrant postsecondary sector.