Insided Higher Ed: Federal Audit Challenges Faculty Role at WGU

Paul Fain at Inside Higher Ed has posted a piece on the final report for the audit of Western Governors University (WGU).  The online university enrolls 83,000 students, but has been under audit for several years. At issue has been the role of faculty in its competency based education programs.  The inspector general was questioning where or not the school was in compliance with the Higher Education Act of 1965.

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The inspector general has found the WGU to not be in compliance, and has recommend among other things the repayment of at least 713 million dollars in federal financial aid.  WGU contests the finding of the role  faculty play in their competence based programs.

WGU has enjoyed strong bipartisan support in Washington and drew praise from the Obama administration for innovation.  It has also had a good track record with its accreditors.

What is of major concern for online learning in general is the basis used for the finding.  According to Fain, “the Office of Inspector General, which is led by Kathleen Tighe, relied on a 1992 federal law that defines aid eligibility for distance education programs, which many have said poses a problem for WGU, some other competency-based programs, and possibly online education writ large.”

Fain points out that many experts believe the Trump administration might not follow up on the findings as he has signaled his administration is interested in reducing regulation in general.

The full Fain article is here:

For more posts on the Western Governors University audit.

The full inspector generals report is here.

 

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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Education Department Confirms Initial Approval of Kaplan, EDMC Deals

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Paul Fain at Inside Higher Ed is reporting that the U.S. Department of Education has confirmed it will approve the purchase of Kaplan University by Purdue University.  This confirms reports by BuzzFeed that the approval was in the works a couple of days ago.

For more post on the Purdue-Kaplan deal.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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Purdue-Kaplan Deal Approved by State

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Inside Higher Ed is reporting that the Indiana Commission for Higher Education has approved Purdue University’s planned acquisition of Kaplan University. This is the first of three required approvals.  Next up, the United States Department of Education and the Higher Learning Commission, the regional accreditation body for both universities.

For more post on the Purdue-Kaplan deal.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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Inside Higher Ed: Fine Print and Tough Questions for the Purdue-Kaplan Deal

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This is an interesting look by Paul Fain at Inside Higher Ed at the Purdue-Kaplan deal in a little more detail.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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Purdue University Acquiring Kaplan University

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Purdue President Mitch Daniels announced that Purdue would acquire Kaplan University.  That announcement has drawn the ire of Purdue faculty, who found out about the acquisition when the announcement was made.  Obviously the negotiations to buy Kaplan had to be done in private as Kaplan’s owner is a publicly traded company.  However, this has raised shared governance issues that could draw scrutiny from Purdue’s accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission.

That story is here: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/05/05/purdue-faculty-votes-against-kaplan-process

Other stories are here:

For more post on the Purdue-Kaplan deal.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education Auditing Western Governors University

Paul Fain at Inside Higher Ed has posted a piece about the audit of Western Governors University (WGU) by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).  This “high-stakes” audit of the 64,000 student online university is relevant to many other online providers and forms of online learning.

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At issue is the role of faculty in competency based education.  Joan Mitchell, WGU spokeswoman, says the inquiry began 3 years ago.  The inspector general is trying to verify whether or not WGU has compiled with the Higher Education Act of 1965.  According to Fain, “The inspector general’s interest in competency-based education so far has centered on federal definitions of what constitutes “distance education” versus correspondence courses.”

Federal rules require “regular and substantive interaction” between faculty and students.  If found to be providing correspondence courses, the DOE could levy a fine agains the school. Fain says, “A possible fine of even pennies on the dollar for federal aid that should not have been received could get large, given that Western Governors has 55,000 graduates.”

A negative finding against WGU could also threaten:

  • MOOCs
  • Programs that use adaptive learning technology
  • emporium-style math labs.

All of these types of education have been praised by the Obama administration as being “innovative.”

The full story is here:

For more posts on the Western Governors University audit.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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