Stop subsidising for-profit education

Among the many failures in the education ‘reform’ movement, the attempt to promote for-profit education has been the most complete. The Swedish experiment, for quite a few years seen as the exemplar of success, has turned out very badly.

In the US, the for-profit schools company Edison failed completely. Far worse for-profit universities like Phoenix, which have prospered by recruiting poor students, eligible for Federal Pell Grants, and enrolling them in degree programs they never finish. Phoenix collects the US government cash, while the students are lumbered with debts they can never repay and can’t even discharge in bankruptcy.

Several years ago, there was a major scandal in Victoria (which led the way in privatising vocational education) about similar practices.

This did not, of course, lead to any change for the better. Instead, governments across Australia followed the Victorian model. For-profit providers responded by emulating the University of Phoenix, with recruiters offering free laptops to anyone will to sign up for a course and the associated debts: the targeted groups were low-income earners who would not have to repay the income contingent loan except in the unlikely event that the course propelled them into the middle class.

This isn’t just a matter of fringe players: a report on A Current Affair[1] identified some of the biggest for-profit firms, such as Evocca, Careers Australia and Aspire. The Australian Skills Quality Authority is supposedly investigating. However, as with the authorities that are supposed to regulate greyhound racing, the obvious question is why, when these rorts have been common knowledge for years, a current affairs show can find the evidence ASQA has apparently missed.

It’s clear enough that privatisating VET-TAFE has been a failure, as would be expected based on international experience. But the answer isn’t to go back to the past. Rather, we need a national framework for post-school education, with funding both for TAFE and universities on an integrated basis.

There’s still the problem of how to wind down the for-profit system. I’d suggest that we could start by converting the better ones into contract providers of TAFE courses, and then gradually absorbing them into a unified system.

Those who don’t like that deal could compete like good capitalists in the open market, charging upfront fees and serving whatever market they could find, subject to ordinary consumer protection laws.

fn1. Presumably reflecting a change in the audience, A Current Affair has started targeting large-scale corporate wrongdoing rather than going solely after the easy target of dodgy tradespeople and low-grade con artists. Unfortunately, the story was spoiled by an apparently irrelevant attempt to drag in the Mormon affiliations of some of those involved in the basis, but you can’t have everything.

94 thoughts on “Stop subsidising for-profit education

  1. Ah, late stage neocon capitalism! It’s making such a good job of everything isn’t it?

    Sarcasm alert: The above is pure sarcasm of course.

  2. There is a growing scandal around the training industry which some of our politicians should latch on to. Mums, dads and kids are being burdened with debts to pay for courses that are useless. They are useless because the training is substandard, Government knows this, their own agency says 70% of the very small sample of courses they tested had significant problems. There are numerous examples of Phoenix type operations where the training provider gets the loan from Government which they then tick and flick their trainees and saddle them with the debts.

    I heard one senior bureaucrat extol the virtues of the newly increased TAFE fees for aged care on the basis that most would not have to pay it back because they would never earn more than $50, 000 pa. What a career pitch!

  3. When I studied education at post graduate level over a decade ago, one of my lecturers introduced a reading by saying, “this article is about the crisis in education, but bear in mind that education is always in crisis.” One of the consequences of this constant popular notion of a system in crisis is that it attracts and allows ideological meddling, whereas education is much more suited to management by a Yes Minister style benevolent public service. Of course after so many years of meddling, we may actually need reform now.

  4. JQ – “Presumably reflecting a change in the audience, A Current Affair …”

    I’d say it’s more the change in ownership. When the Packer’s owned Ch9, they were part of the business establishment, so much easier to beat up on the little guys – people who don’t matter. Now CH9 is owned by the Vulture Capitalists, who would sell their grandmother to make a dollar, the reporters at ACA may have been let of the leash, as I doubt the VC guys give a rats who they upset, so long as they make money.

  5. A number of people thought the initial HECS fees when the Dawkins reforms kicked in would be a disincentive to students; for a while, I was thinking that could be the case. Once it took off, the deviousness of the deferred repayment and its simple ingeniousness became clear: students cared in the abstract—they would rather have free education—but the delay in first repayment was sufficient to put it out of their minds while studying. Those paying upfront probably had a different view.

    While considerable thought went into the extorting of money from the students, and into the deregulation of the tertiary sector, far less thought went into monitoring and enforcing quality of service and product, for that would have cost the government directly. Perhaps the government could have charged a premium from each education provider, and if one of them doesn’t perform, the premiums cover the compensation payments to the students who copped a cr*p product, and the premiums rise accordingly. At some point the market participants might then think about policing each other…(and pigs will fly)

    Now that deferred payment HECs is locked in, I don’t see any easy way for a government to restructure the whole post-secondary education system to be more responsive to need, especially for those of us falling into the 50-plus category of the surplus-to-needs.

  6. …the answer isn’t to go back to the past.

    I come across this sentiment in other areas of concern as well, and I don’t get it.

    I say “why not?”

    If you get lost and you retrace your footsteps until you are back on track, that is considered sensible common sense. Why not go back to, for example, fully state funded tertiary and TAFE education?

  7. @Megan

    I agree. Another one I hate is “You can’t unscramble the eggs now.” Many years ago a Liberal minister actually said this gloatingly about Howard’s welfare “reforms”.

    My answer is “bull”. The people get another batch of eggs and make something different… even if necessary go back to a previous system that was better.

    All these statements surrounding necon ideological changes attempt to indoctrinate people into believing TINA (There Is No Alternative). There is always an alternative.

    We should indeed go back to fully funded tertiary education. It is bulldust that we can’t afford it. Of course we can. They always say the coffers are bare but when it’s time for war or dumping refugees in the Pacific gulags then they suddenly find billions of extra dollars out of nowhere.

  8. @Megan

    By “state” do you mean “state government”, or “government”? On the first point, the old system in which states ran TAFE and the Feds ran unis was no basis for a universal system of post-schools education.

    If you mean “government” and are referring to “free education”, it has never existed at the post-school level in Australia. TAFE always had fees, and universities had limited access. Neither was free.

    So, there is no good past model to return to.

  9. Permanent retraining being half of ‘earning or learning’ makes the unemployment figures look good. In the US ten military bases will be used to train 75,000 people mainly ex armed forces in solar panel installation. Link. What if that market shrinks as it has done in Australia?

    Conceivably the day will come when the typical dole recipient has multiple diplomas. Tickets in hair dressing, diesel engine maintenance and first aid. Paid work experience none.

  10. @John Quiggin

    Your statement “there is no good past model to return to” is incorrect in the sense that there is a past model to turn to that was better than the current model.

    According to The Converstation online (“Should we follow the German way of free higher education?” – by Tim Pitman and Hannah Forsythe;

    “Serious attempts to support poorer students into university began in 1944 with the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. As well as ensuring people had jobs in the post-war economy, it was a deliberate social engineering attempt by the Curtin-Chifley government to encourage people from working-class backgrounds – mostly men – to study.

    Prime minister Robert Menzies expanded the system into the merit-based Commonwealth Scholarships scheme. Between this and state-based teachers’ scholarships, a majority of university students from the late 1950s to the early 1970s did not pay fees. However, the overall student demographic remained urban, middle class and white.

    When Whitlam made education free in 1973, it still didn’t help many more students from more diverse families go to university, though mature-age women did benefit. The practical difference under Whitlam was offering income support for students.”

    Let us recap the key statements or claims above;

    (1) Due to scholarships a majority of university students from the late 1950s to the early 1970s did not pay fees.

    (2) Whitlam made tertiary education free in 1973 and offered income support for students.

    This is better than the current system from an equity point of view. I am not sure about number of places available relative to population; whether that was better then or now.

    The same article mentioned above states;

    “Eight of the 22 countries analysed (selected based on whether sufficient data is available) provide free higher education. Their governments invest on average $14,387 per student per year, compared to an average of $13,094 for all countries. On average, 30% of their population has a tertiary qualification, compared to 32% for all countries analysed. These countries provide free higher education for their citizens without making it too exclusive, nor dramatically increasing public expenditure.”

    The relevant table in the article is well worth looking at for the countries that do provide free tertiary education. There are little ones like Norway and poor ones like Poland and Mexico. For Australia and any Australian academics to claim we have not and cannot offer free tertiary education is at least a partial misreading of our history and an economically blinkered and fundamentally incorrect view ideologically biased to the neocon position.

  11. When one of these ‘colleges’ set up their spruikers outside the local Centrelink office I was reminded of the beginnings of the GFC where profits were made slicing and dicing futures, derivatives, collaterised debt obligations initially from poor aspiring home owners. Substitute a 17 year old school leaver with no idea what trade or skill might appease that inner yearning but would tick a box with the ‘people inside’.

  12. @pablo

    Yes, capitalism (particularly as financial capital) has reached its final catabolic cannibilising phase where it feeds on its own young and its decaying infrastructure. The young are exploited and cast aside. Everything public is broken up for private profit and run without proper maintenance. Fed off, sold off, broken up and cast aside as ruins.

  13. @Ikonoclast

    To repeat. ‘ Free’ education was confined to a small minority, mostly from private schools, which gave better exam preparation. The majority of potential students were excluded because the number of places was strictly limited.

    If you like the system of free education for some, you should be supporting the Go8 deregulation plans, which would reintroduce free education by expanding the number of scholarships, and would further reduce the number of students forced/allowed to pay fees by letting fewer people in.

    The Go8 plan would move us back to the pre-Whitlam system which you regard as superior to the present.

  14. @John Quiggin

    This is patently not true. I and my brothers recieved government scholarships and tertiary education. I also received TEAS at a later stage. We came from a state high school (not THE Brisbane State High) and a working class family which eventually moved up to middle class over time. Virtually all of my peers (about 25 in my class alone IIRC) who matriculated grade 12 took university places. They were a mix of Housing Commission working class and middle class teens. I don’t see how you can say that this is limited and not free (of fees at least). It was limited only by intellectual “merit” (actually luck in good intelligence genes, good basic nutrition and good parental support) so far as I can see. If one was smart enough, one studied enough and one had parental support (even working class parents) one got into Uni and got a scholarship.

    All this was done in both the pre-Whitlam and Whitlam era without saddling students with big HECs debts before they even enter the workforce. It is the most inquitous thing to saddle people with debts before they even start work. It’s pure neocon b a s t a r d r y. The notion that Australia cannot support free tertiary education is absolute nonsense. I am not saying the system of the earlier era was the ideal. I am saying we can do even better than that and EASILY afford free tertiary education for all who can meet reasonably stringent academic entrance requirements. Academic suitability must be the sole criterion.

    It’s a matter of will and priorites. If we stopped making unecessary war, stopped subsidising fossil fuels, stopped corporate welfare, stopped negative gearing, stopped tax avoidance and started taxing the very well off properly we could easily do it. Those measures I mention could alone save $20 billion to $30 billion in the budget.

    I must say it is actually unclear what you are in favour of but it seems you support the iniquitous necon HECs system. Correct me if I am wrong in assuming this.

  15. Easy to check that your recollections are unrepresentative. The number of higher ed students in 1973 (in the middle of the baby boom cohort) was 221 000. The number of domestic students today is 905 000. Population hasn’t even doubled in that time. So, it’s obvious that vast numbers of students capable of benefiting from higher ed didn’t get it. If everyone at your working class school got into uni, it must have been a very unusual school.

    The post war period, which you see as better than the present, was even more restrictive. In the mid-50s, there were only 30 000 uni places Australia wide, less than a single university today.

    I haven’t got time to demonstrate the domination by private school kids, but your own source states it (middle class being a euphemism for “upper income” in this context).

    So, yes, if the choice is between HECS and free education for a lucky handful, I’m for HECS. If we are talking utopia (which I do regularly), I have different ideas, which I will post on another time.

    Source: https://education.gov.au/selected-higher-education-statistics-time-series-data-and-publications

  16. Of course we do have a vast private education system at the high school level. It is completely (but I could be mistaken) not for profit. None the less, it could still be a disaster. What saves it from this is parental engagement, and that the ultimate measure of its success is a set of external exams.

    The government may not want to provide the actual education services, but I think it has an obligation to provide high quality external exams. If the system is working well, these could be once a year. And the government funding for the private institution would be related to the number of their students who were successful in the exams. If your student fails the exam, you get no government money for them, and you don’t get their money either.

    Note that this would need to apply to TAFE as well, and therefore by necessity include practical exams.

    I don’t know if we want to go down that path, but it would require a big effort from government, because government would have to write the curriculum if they were to assess it. And writing and maintaining curricula and setting and administering exams is hard work. In the end, if government is prepared to do this, they may as well deliver the courses themselves, which would cut out most private providers.

  17. If everyone at your working class school got into uni, it must have been a very unusual school.

    Ah, but the statement was not that everybody at the school got into university.

    Virtually all of my peers (about 25 in my class alone IIRC) who matriculated grade 12 took university places.

    The statement was that all (or ‘virtually’ all) of those who completed Year 12 got into university.

    The rate of retention to the end of secondary education has more than doubled. In the pre-Whitlam era less than one-third of all school students completed secondary education. Now, the rate is well over two-thirds. So like is not being compared with like. Other things being equal, providing university education for everybody who completes secondary education now would cost the equivalent of well over twice as much as it would have done in the pre-Whitlam era.

  18. @J-D

    Correct. But the same is true of the proportion going on from Year 12 to Uni. It’s only around 60 per cent now, and the numbers imply it must have been lower still in the 70s. Since it’s always been near 100 for the top private schools, and shows the usual social class gradient in state schools, a continuation rate of or near 100 per cent for a working class school remains exceptional. At my very middle class school, in Canberra, it was much below that.

  19. @Ikonoclast

    It was limited only by intellectual “merit”…

    Well then how did you get in? But more seriously, I don’t see why tertiary education should be free given the advantage you get in lifetime earnings. The cost shouldn’t be oppressive either. I too went to uni from a poor white trash (I love that American expression) upbringing, but I chopped and changed courses 4 times before I finally stuck at something. This happened just before and after the introduction of TEAS/HECS. Having to pay a fee stops people from mucking about at the taxpayers expense, which is what I did.

    This point of view may not be popular, but I think we probably have far too many people being trained in jobs that are already oversupplied. I wish I had a dollar for every lawyer, teacher, arts, humanities and social sciences graduate who is an office pen pusher. I’d be surprised if we couldn’t tank 50,000 or so university places like this with no negative economic impact.

    On the other hand, being a techno-optimist, I would like to see a massive increase in science funding and a quadrupling or quintupling of the CSIRO budget. I want to see Australia be in the vanguard of bringing on the post-scarcity world that I now think is within reach, thanks to the likely tripling or quadrupling of solar efficiency at reduced cost that now appears to be in the pipeline.

  20. Once upon a time, most kids left school at 14. By the 70’s, most stayed to 17. Its now reached the point where its not so much that you get extra income by being a uni graduate, but rather that you are disadvantaged by not being one.

    Just about everyone needs some form of further education after high school, so it should be free.

  21. @J-D

    What is the evidence for:

    In the pre-Whitlam era less than one-third of all school students completed secondary education.

    I understand that Australia had compulsory education until aged 15.

  22. @John Brookes
    You beat me to it. My father followed the standard high school to job to management career trajectory available up to the lat 1960’s. I entered the job market with matriculation at the end of 1982, confronting over 10% unemployment and a massive youth unemployment. I had the good fortune to be able to study at university, thus avoiding that recession, only to finish when we had the great ’87 stock market crash. Some friends continued on with grad dips, only to hit the ’90/91 recession “we had to have”.

    For my father, jobs followed a natural progression—until the 80’s downsizing and the 90’s transformations. He was fortunate enough to pick his retirement, more or less. It isn’t like that now. The nature of work is transforming before our very eyes, so it requires post-secondary education which can keep up with the changes, unless we want people to be permanently unemployed at earlier and earlier career points. If we are serious about keeping people in the workforce beyond 65 years of age, then at least two things must change: first, employers must resist the urge to chuck the over 45’s under the bus when the next recession or down-sizing fad washes through; second, repeated access to post-secondary education must be possible, for the jobs available in the next decade may be significantly different to those available now.

    A robotic automation of a factory means very few staff are necessary to do what once took hundreds, even thousands, of people to accomplish. 3D (additive) printing technology allows not only rapid prototyping of a new design, but fully individualised designs, which turns the whole mass production paradigm on its head. Depending on the product to be manufactured, even the customisation can be automated. CSIRO has done some amazing things in this space, as have others.

    Given how many people access post-secondary education, it is reasonable to ask how do we pay for a model which is designed to admit repeated access during a long working life? If you saw any of the tax minimisation senate committee testimonies from the big ITC companies, you might reasonably wonder if corporations in Australia should be shouldering a greater burden of it, being the biggest beneficiaries of an educated workforce. Why is it the PAYG who cop the debt and the taxes to pay for it, and the corporations are siphoning taxable profits out of the country?

  23. This analysis holds good for early childhood EDUCATION and care (ECEC). A Canadian study on the balance sheet for corporate child care providers found that the only way to ensure the expected level of returns to shareholders was to cut quality. The research on early brain development shows how sensitive young children’s brains are to the degree of enrichment and responsiveness in their environment. High quality, affordable ECEC can only be provided by not-for profits, and public provision has advantages that even the OECD (not known for fulsome support for a larger public sector) has recognised.

  24. Now that’s weird, in the 50’s at a rural State School (Vic), we were unaware that universities even existed or that we could attend, not one of the kids I went to school with went past year 10. Our parents and teachers never had any ambitions for us other than being a tradesman or farmer, nurse or teacher for girls.

  25. @John Quiggin

    My post made it clear that my choice was not between HECS and free education for a lucky handful. My post made it clear I was for free tertiary education for all who meet the standards. There is no problem (IMO) with making the standards rigorous enough that graduates will meet requirement. I know future requirements for doctors, engineers, teachers etc., can be difficult to predict. However, it must be possible to make estimates and to use some sort of “supply theory” to determine what level of potential over-supply of the qualified is most tolerable. I make the assmuption here that under-supply is always more economically damaging than moderate over-supply.

    My post made it clear that there are many other “sectors” (war, fossil fuel subsidies, corporate welfare, tolerance of tax minimisation) where we waste or forego money and resources shamefully and that these resources could be put into education.

    Of course, my tertiary student era (and yours) are not directly comparable to contemporary Australia. Contemporary Australia is indeed richer and more developed. It is not as if HECs was the necessary and only possible way of funding tertiary education. I’ve already pointed out the ways we waste immense money and resources on less necessary things.

    A first degree, even of 4 or 6 years (like engineeering or edicine respectively), should be free. Entrance should be based on academic qualifications alone. Quotas should apply (related to our projected need for professionals) to degrees leading directly to professional employment. Other degrees of a more “humanties” or generalist nature need not be quite so strictly quota limtied. It should be recognised that becoming more learned for its own sake is also a worthwhile goal. Second degrees though should probably be user pays.

  26. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Either you pay for university as a fee, in higher taxes as you earn more or someone without the advantage of a tertiary education has to pick up your tab.

  27. The current highly distorted post-secondary education system pays a few individuals enormous sums of money to set up, run, collapse, and to run away to try again. Meanwhile, students are left in the lurch and carrying a debt.

    Furthermore, enterprises are applying “time limits” to our investment in our education: I was looking through jobs boards and for many jobs, they specify that the applicant’s degree must have been completed no more than X years ago, X being from 7 to 10 years. In other words, the degree was considered out of date and useless for the job if it was completed more than seven (ten) years ago. For an investment of $60K or much more, it would be nice for it to hold its value better than that!

  28. @jt
    Yes, it costs. I have no problem with a redistributive tax system (like we used to have) that ensures we can afford it.

  29. enrolling them in degree programs they never finish.

    Is that because Phoenix provides a poor quality education or because the kinds of students it attracts are poorly prepared for university education?

  30. @Uncle Milton

    Both, but I think the selection of poorly prepared students is part of the plan. More able students would cause more trouble when they realised they were being ripped off.

  31. Before Whitlam – staying on to year 12 was a different matter to completing.

    Students completed with different certificates in different states at the end of what is now year 10.

    This was completion of secondary education.

    In 1967, the two senior years probably did not exist or were pretty new and not heavily utilised.

  32. Before Whitlam, in Queensland, in 1960:

    … almost 80 per cent of 14-year-olds were remaining at school of their own volition, so that it could be said that the Watkin Committee’s recommendation in 1961 that the leaving age be raised to 15 sought to recognise a fait accompli.

    see: http://education.qld.gov.au/library/edhistory/state/brief/secondary-1957.html

    There is no evidence that in the pre-Whitlam era, less than one-third of all school students completed secondary education.

    There may be evidence that before Whitlam, less than a third of all school students matriculated to university – but this is entirely different.

  33. In New South Wales since the 1960s on, secondary education has consisted of six years of schooling. Until recently, the School Certificate was available to students who had completed four of those six years, while the Higher School Certificate was and still is available to students who have completed all six years of secondary education. Receiving the School Certificate did not mean a student had completed the full course of secondary education and it was not a university entrance qualification, which the Higher School Certificate is.

    Before 1982, less than one-third of all secondary students completed the full course of secondary education (six years in some States and five years in others). Since 1992, over two-thirds of all secondary students have completed the full course of secondary education. At all times some students have left secondary education without completing it, and some of them (depending on how much secondary education they have completed) have been eligible to receive qualifications like the School Certificate and its predecessor the Intermediate Certificate (in New South Wales; I don’t have the full list of all States’ titles).

    I posted a comment with links to official sources with full historical detail (for New South Wales again) but it had two links and so is still in moderation.

  34. @J-D

    In New South Wales since the 1960’s on, secondary education has not consisted of six years of schooling.

    It consisted, for most students, of four years when they completed their education with a so-called “leaving certificate” or “school certificate”. They then usually entered the workforce having successfully completed their secondary education.

    For others, it consisted of 5 years for matriculation, or other training, and after 1970, for six years for the Higher School Certificate.

    Those who did not proceed beyond the leaving certificate completed their secondary education from (what was then) – fourth form.

    Before 1970, those who continued, completed their secondary education after 5 years.

    After 1970, those who continued, completed their secondary education after 6 years.

    Based on the data, in 1965, 31% of students continued into year 5. Therefore around 70% completed their secondary education earlier.

    So it is clear – Receiving the school certificate meant that most students had completed their secondary education. According to the data, only a minority continued.

    Entering university was not relevant. Before Whitlam, university was only for scholarship, traineeship or cadetship holders and for the rich.

    The actual proportions and the different years of study for sample years are here:

    Click to access enrol_per_year_7.pdf

    nets

  35. In New South Wales since the 1960’s on, secondary education has not consisted of six years of schooling.

    It consisted, for most students, of four years when they completed their education with a so-called “leaving certificate” or “school certificate”. They then usually entered the workforce having successfully completed their secondary education.

    For others, it consisted of 5 years for matriculation, or other training, and after 1970, for six years for the Higher School Certificate.

    Those who did not proceed beyond the leaving certificate completed their secondary education from (what was then) – fourth form.

    Before 1970, those who continued, completed their secondary education after 5 years.

    After 1970, those who continued, completed their secondary education after 6 years.

    Based on the data, in 1965, 31% of students continued into year 5. Therefore around 70% completed their secondary education earlier.

    So it is clear – Receiving the school certificate meant that most students had completed their secondary education. According to the data, only a minority continued.

    Entering university was not relevant. Before Whitlam, university was only for scholarship, traineeship or cadetship holders and for the rich.

    The actual proportions and the different years of study for sample years are here:

    Click to access enrol_per_year_7.pdf

    nets

  36. Before 1982, well under one-third of all school students completed the highest level secondary qualification (however named; in New South Wales, the Higher School Certificate). Since 1992 well over two-thirds of all school students have completed the highest level secondary qualification.

    The rate of apparent retention from the first year of high school to the end of Year 12 has been reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in its publication Schools Australia to create a consistent time series going back to the 1960s, and that’s the source for the graph in the publication I cited earlier.

  37. @Uncle Milton

    On various TV current affairs programs i have seen complaints from many overseas students about being ripped-off by capitalist education providers.

    Is this what you meant by terrible product?

    Some private schools are treaching that Jesus, God or Allah dictates how you should live, who you can marry, what clothes you can wear, jobs you can have and what food you can eat.

    Is this what you meant by terrible product?

    Religious pressure can force many children into terrible education.

  38. @Ivor

    What I mean is that students at the University of Phoenix are going into big debt to pay for a poor-quality university education. A lot of them don’t complete their degrees. You don’t get half the benefits of a university degree (in terms of better job and earnings prospects) by completing half a degree. When you don’t finish, you don’t get any of the benefits, and these students are stuck with the debt as well. (In America, student debt isn’t like HECS. You’ve got to pay it off no matter how low your income is.)

    That’s what I mean by a terrible product.

    If anybody tried to sell uninsurable expensive cars with no warranty that regularly broke down on the drive home from the showroom they’d go out of the business very quickly. The market would work quickly and brutally. But for some reason this market discipline doesn’t seem to work with poor quality for-profit higher education.

  39. @Uncle Milton

    Because they don’t have to pay up front. Because it is the triumph of hope over reality. Because if they were any smarter they’d have gone to a proper university. Because people really believe the mantra that if you try hard enough you can do/be anything. Because the inheritance thing from Nigeria didn’t work out…

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