More on for-profits

Why Do You Think They're Called For-Profit Colleges?
But many for-profit institutions have regional accreditation, too. That's what people like Clifford are buying when they invest in troubled colleges. Accreditation has become like a taxicab medallion, available for bidding on the open market. As a result, long-established public and private nonprofit colleges are left with no standards with which to make the case against their for-profit competitors. At one recent Congressional hearing, the Senate education committee's chairman, Tom Harkin, said of the for-profits, "We don't know how many students graduate, how many get jobs, how schools that are not publicly traded spend their [federal] dollars, and how many for-profit students default over the long term." All true—and just as true when the words "for profit" are removed. There's no doubt that the worst for-profits are ruthlessly exploiting the commodified college degree. But they didn't commodify it in the first place.

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