College Guide


September 26, 2012 11:00 AM For-profit College Will Now “Focus on Student Outcomes and Success”

By Daniel Luzer


In what appears to be a move in related to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges’s July decision to reject Bridgepoint Education Inc.’s accreditation bid for its Ashford University, Bridgepoint will eliminate 450 admissions positions at Ashford

Bridgepoint Education owns several for-profit colleges, including Ashford. Another 400 people in admissions will be reassigned to student services and a new department of “student inquiry,” whatever that is. According to a press release by the company:

In an effort to address our nation’s focus on student outcomes and success, and consistent with its culture of continuous improvement, Bridgepoint Education’s Ashford University has reorganized staff at its locations in San Diego and Denver.
Ashford University will implement a group of initiatives which will collectively provide a standard framework for student selection and engagement. These initiatives include personalized support and academic components that will be delivered throughout the student lifecycle, from selection to graduation. Ashford University’s initiatives will provide a positive impact on student success, and support the overarching goals of today’s higher education landscape.

Ah yes, “our nation’s focus on student outcomes and success.” Part of the reason the Western Association of Schools and Colleges rejected the company’s accreditation application had to do with the institution’s staffing priorities. Despite the fact that Ashford had over 90,000 students, it employed only 56 full-time faculty members. It did, however, employ some 2,300 people in admissions. That means it had 40 times more employees working to get people to sign up to for Ashford than it had educating them once they were enrolled.

Granted, this new plan doesn’t address the central problem by actually hiring faculty, but it does move some of the institution’s (probably rather determined) admissions team over into helping students in their classes.

The new department of student inquiry will “work with prospective students to ensure they are sufficiently prepared for the demands of a university education.” One might think students insufficiently prepared for the demands of a university education should be dissuaded from enrolling at a university, but let’s see how this plan works. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer


  • GTOS on October 09, 2012 7:24 PM:

    The change indicates a shift away from heavily criticized recruitment practices. Stock prices have fallen dramatically since the July accreditation announcement and Bridgepoint wants to assure investors and accreditation associations that their focus will be on their current students and not just potential future students yet to be recruited.

    In fact, in reviews of Ashford University on Guide to Online Schools, Student Services seems to be the biggest complaint. According to a recent Student Satisfaction Assessment conducted by SR Education Group, 67.5% of Ashford University students were satisfied with the school’s student services. This percentage falls short of Ashford students’ average quality and value satisfaction rates (78.9% and 71.9% respectively).

    In the increasing competitive market of for-profit education, the emphasis needs to be placed on setting current students up for success as opposed to garnering as many new students as possible. The institutions that care for their enrolled students will see greater benefits from their improved satisfaction reports and proud alumni. All for-profit institutions should take a leaf out of Zappo’s book and start being powered by service.