Career Education Colleges and Universities president and CEO Steve Gunderson called upon the Senator and House Members reviewing the recent closure of ECA to focus on the students. In a letter sent to Senator Elizabeth Warren, Representatives Elijah Cummings, and Suzanne Bonamici, Gunderson called upon Congress to review and revise the current legislative and regulatory guidelines to better prioritize “Keeping students in school.”
Gunderson stressed the commitment of the nation’s postsecondary career colleges and universities to helping students impacted by the closure of the institution:
“Our sector continues to believe this remains one of the most significant policy issues in higher education today. We simply can, and must, revise the legal and regulatory policies impacting abrupt school closures in ways that prioritize keeping students in class towards a completion of their education. The current system does not allow other schools to step in and continue the students’ education. This must be changed!”
In 2017, CECU proposed a fee of $5 per student/year to fund a new Office of Continuing Education within the Department of Education. Gunderson wrote, “While not a complete answer, this office of professionals trained in managing challenged schools would prioritize the continuation of the students’ education.”
Gunderson also noted specific statutory and regulatory changes needed to protect student access to higher education:
“The only way we can currently continue educational services to the students without interruption is if a new owner/operator; a.) accepts all liability from the previous owner’s participation in Title IV; b.) assumes all liabilities of the previous owner to current and former students. We believe it is appropriate for the Department to cease access to Title IV funds for any owner/institution that has ceased operations. However, we believe the Department of Education should be able to authorize continued operations at such site and immediate access to Title IV to continue the students’ academic studies through a new owner approved by both the Department and the accreditor.”
Gunderson notes in conclusion, “the current regulations prevent other institutions from immediately assuming the academic operations at a site closed or scheduled for closure. As you will determine in your review of the current closures, when a school abruptly closes the procedures prioritize the Department’s and the accreditor’s relationship with the closed school ownership. We need to create a process that ensures students’ continued education!”
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