Ethical practices for-profit universities

Discuss one or two of the ethical issues involving for-profit universities. Then, after you have discussed these issues, discuss whether or not you believe that these practices are ethical or unethical and explain why…………


While researching on ethical practices for universities I discovered that For-Profit Universities had been accused and criticized of unethical practices regarding marketing of programs, recruitment of students, quality of education, graduation and job placement rates, and students’ reliance on financial aid. This then led to my interest in writing an article that would discuss the unethical practices employed by For-profit Universities. Examples of For-profit organizations include Kaplan University, DeVry University, and the University of Phoenix.

For-profit universities such as University of Phoenix and DeVry University have of late found themselves in a tough situation. They have been under investigation by the government for deceptive practices and recruitment frauds (ABC news 1). A recruiter was found to have lied to a student that a University of Phoenix associate’s degree would allow her to teach in Illinois. ABC News and Chris Cuomo had done their own investigations and they were shocked to discover that their own undercover producer was encouraged by a recruiter to take out the maximum loan amount and he had also given him incorrect information about his ability to teach if he completed a University of Phoenix bachelor’s degree.

Associations have come up for the sole purpose of guiding and counseling potential college students and making people aware of unethical practices of For-Profit Universities. National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) is an example of such an association. It is a non-profit association of nearly 1200 high school counselors and college admission officers across the United States. The association represents more than 1600 high schools and 1100 not-for-profit public and private colleges and universities (Hawkin1). The core mission of NACAC is to provide a code of ethics for the college admission counseling profession (Hawkins1). The association has found that some organizations are violating some ethics guidelines and so it has come up with principle for the benefit of students and universities.

The first principle is that members should show not offer or accept any reward or remuneration from a college, university, agency or organization for placement or recruitment of students. Member will be compensated in the form of a fixed salary, rather than commissions or bonuses based on the number of students recruited. This has been clearly violated by For-Profit Universities and colleges in that a former worker of the Phoenix University Ryan Richardson, complained that he decided to leave work as he had been frustrated and disillusioned by the high-pressure tactics used to recruit students (Coutts 2011). A GAO report shows that several of these universities and colleges employ unethical tactics in recruiting even though most of these schools earn large profits from taxpayers’ money (Curtis 1). In several schools visited the GAO found that they engaged in ethical misconduct through:-

  • Offering commissions to admissions officers.
  • Use of deceptive marketing tactics, including the refusal to disclose total tuition cost to prospective students before they signed a binding agreement.
  • Providing misleading information about accreditation.
  • One case of encouraging outright fraud by enticing a student to apply for aid and hide the fact that the applicant had $250,000 in savings.
  • Promising students they would get extravagant, unlikely high salaries after graduation.
  • Failure to disclose actual graduation rate.
  • Mentioning tuition cost equivalent to nine months of study when the actual course covered 12 months (Verschoor 3).

This was quite a disturbing report but most of the universities and colleges denied vehemently that this was happening.

In any given academic year the number of students enrolled is of great importance to all institutions of higher education. Student’s interest often goes ignored when the focus is on increasing the number of student enrolling so that the school may gain profits. It goes without saying that the universities are more likely to recruit employees who behave like sale persons than professionals. These recruiters have a tendency of not give enough information or misrepresent information in terms of Finance, Job offers and salaries after graduation etc. Low income students who may lack access to information about higher education may fall victim to aggressive recruiters whose livelihood depends on meeting deadlines. The negative implications of recruiting students with the promise of getting well paying jobs after graduation is that the promise commonly goes unfulfilled. These in turn results in high drop-out rates and the waste of taxpayer funds because students are often unable to repay their tuition loans. Senator Durbin stated, “We’re seeing too many examples where students go deeply into debt and either wind up with no diploma or a worthless diploma” (Verschoor 5).

Modern financial aid system is complex to most people and so recruiters often take advantage of this fact to deceive and manipulate potential students into their institutions. It is only when the students report to the university that they find themselves in a predicament. NACAC advocates for clarity in the presentation of finances (Hawkins 2).

According to my own opinion I believe that these practices are unethical. Recruiting student on the basis of increasing the amount of commission one receives is not a good practice as the recruiting officer may not put the needs of the students first. This then translate to the recruiting officer playing with the futures of our young and trusting students who might have achieved more in life if they would have been advised accordingly. Perhaps these organizations are to be blamed for dissatisfaction of workers in their work place. It is very unfortunate that in America most employees are dissatisfied with the line of work that they choose. It is always frustrating for students to learn they had been lied to about important issues such as how much time and money they require to graduate. There is also the issue of getting fraud loans which increases the amount of students who drop out every year. A report released by the U.S. Department of Education on February 4, 2011 shows that students from For-Profit Universities have a higher case of dropouts by 25% due to default loans than other non-profit universities (Verschoor 9).

In conclusion I think that the government can look at this issues and the society needs to be made aware so that they don’t become victims to this atrocitie


Works cited.

“Do for-profit colleges deserve taxpayer support?” accounting web in education and careers. 2010. Web 8 Feb.2012.

“For-Profit colleges under investigation.” ABC news. 2010. Web 8 Feb.2012.

19 Aug 2010.

“Recruiter’s Experience at one For-Profit University” Coutts. 2011. Web 8 Feb.2012.

 “For-profit college accused of operating illegally in Wisconsin

“Testimony of David Hawkins.” National Association for College Admission Couseling.2010. Web 8 Feb.2012.

“Wisconsin watch for investigative journalism.” 2010. Web 8 Feb. 2012.


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