From the WSJ (A College Closes For Good As Rescue Plan Is Rejected).
Dana College announced it’s closing due to financial problems. The private school, located in Blair, Nebraska, had hoped to go the for-profit route, but the ownership change was blocked by the Higher Learning Commission, an accreditation agency under scrutiny from Washington for wrongly accrediting for-profit institutions.
I don’t think there is any question that the landscape for higher ed has changed. A school that cannot operate within its means, at a price that customers are willing to pay, will find it hard pressed to continue. It shouldn’t surprise that Dana college, and many more institutions, will need to evolve to stay competitive. Faced with the prospects of improving the institution’s value proposition or close, I believe many will be unable or unwilling to make the necessary changes.
The for-profits have come to the rescue of some, although rescue is being used very loosely. In exchange for tighter budget restrictions, greater faculty accountability and other changes, the for-profits pump up enrollment, largely by recruiting unqualified students. The Government is more than willing to help fund this activity through grants and loans because after all everyone should be entitled to an education. The problem is that the students become stuck with debt that they cannot afford while holding certificates and degrees that they cannot use. The accreditation agencies, like the Higher Learning Commission, act as a vetting process, assuring the legitimacy of these schools and their programs (except when they don’t or when their loose standards are exploited).