As ever, Barmak Nassirian says it best. Here his subject is the recent exposure of systemic corruption among for-profit universities; and Jennifer Epstein, reporter for Inside Higher Ed, rightly concludes her long piece updating the for-profit story with his remark:
“If [for-profits] really wanted to seriously enforce any kind of a code of ethics, the whole business model would be upended because the business model here is consumer fraud,” he said. “The margins involved can only be produced if you can shortchange people on the substance of what you purportedly sell, which is education.”
In other words, if they stop lying to hordes of clueless applicants in order to get them to enroll in their school — at which point investors and management at the schools enrich themselves via the federal education loans that attach to said people — if they stop doing this, their very industry collapses. I’ve just described, as Nassirian says, the for-profit business model.
UD loves the way the industry has been, throughout this inevitable congressional exposure, desperately pressing every button in the populist cockpit, hoping to get enough lift not to crash. Here’s a representative of an industry trade group back in June, before the shit hit the fan:
“Elitist Wall Street stock manipulators, rather than higher education experts, have been driving hyperbolic media coverage, creating the impression that outliers are the norm, and insulting millions of hardworking students and graduates in the process. We have every expectation that the GAO, using facts and figures, will provide a full and fair review.”
UD’s been covering the industry for years and she can’t tell you how much of this crap she’s read. Ooh that elitist Harvard with its elitist president — whose salary, around $800,000, compares curiously with the typical salaries of her for-profit peers — from five to ten million dollars a year…
But they’re working hard for the hardworking real people! Why can’t ordinary hardworking American ever catch a break? It’s not insulting for CEO’s to make millions of dollars at the expense of misinformed people who want to better themselves; it’s insulting for the media to cover the story.