Phi Beta Cons

A Federal Finger in Every Pie

The rise of alternative forms of higher education has not been lost on the attentive bureaucrats at the Department of Education. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the department is creating a “pilot program that will allow federal grants and loans to flow to educational-technology companies that team up with colleges and third-party ‘quality-assurance entities’ to offer coding boot camps, MOOCs, short-term certificates, and other credentials.”

Public attention to for-profit education has focused on direct providers of degrees such as Corinthian and the University of Phoenix, which have been attacked and hobbled by congressional antagonists. However, for-profit companies have been burgeoning in other areas. Among the fastest-growing for-profit companies, according to the Chronicle, are those that run “boot camps.” Nearly 70 companies provide short-term courses that teach technical coding. The boot camps are popular because they provide job-related skills that colleges frequently do not.

Some such companies are now working with traditional universities. DoE’s new program will eliminate the current ban on universities’ outsourcing more than half the content of their education to a non-accredited source. (The boot camps are not generally accredited, although they may be regulated by states.)

Watch the price of boot camps to go up if they are affiliated with a university.

Jane S. ShawJane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...


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