By Emily E. Sismour for University-bound.com
The U.S. Department of Education is trying to create a clear financial picture for students with a recently developed, not yet implemented regulation called "Gainful Employment." The Gainful Employment regulation along with many other new regulations are set to be put into action sometime in 2011. These new regulations have been conceived in response to the growing pressure over for-profit education’s questionable recruitment practices.
What the U.S.D.E. hopes to accomplish with these new policies is to make students more informed about the financials of their degree programs. Simply defined, the regulation will "apply a formula to programs in career-oriented majors, like healthcare, business and education to decide which ones lead to ‘gainful employment.’ Those that do not would be eliminated. Students would also get concrete information about graduation rates, employment rates, potential salaries in their chosen field, loan debt info and the like before they choose their school. This information should help students analyze their risk/reward scenario."
The U.S.D.E. has defined "gainful employment" as employment that provides students with the income they need to successfully re-pay their education debts.
Randy Proto, CEO of the American Institutes school group which operates healthcare-based career schools in a number of states, says that the disclosure agreement found in the "gainful employment" regulation is an "excellent idea." But, for the regulation to be effective, Proto suggests that the formulas established to decipher the "gainful employment" statistics must "account for differences in: student populations served, programmatic goals, national economic conditions and many other factors."
As it is envisioned now, the "gainful employment" regulations would only apply to for-profit education institutions and a minute percentage of students in non-degree programs at ground schools. So, Proto asks, what about the "7.5 million additional students enrolled in career-oriented degree majors at public and private universities? Why leave any students and programs out of its reach? If the proposed regulation is a good idea and provides the anticipated benefits and protections, it should be broadly applied."
Proto, clearly a proponent of for-profit education, supports the "gainful employment" measure, but would also like to see regulations emplaced across the board to ensure equality, not just at for-profit online schools or career training institutions.
Proto seems to be on the right track. "Gainful employment" regulations are a good idea but shouldn’t be enforced only at for-profit schools. All students should be able to benefit from the information "gainful employment" statistics will provide. Says Proto, "this is a real opportunity for higher education. But only if it is ‘Gainful Employment’ for all students."