Private vocational colleges are a largely unregulated, multimillion dollar industry that has a reputation of aggressively recruiting, especially in low income communities. Many are guilty of unsubstantiated claims and false advertising. Under a new law effective January 1, California’s private vocational schools will now have to disclose their accreditation status and graduation rates.
Schools will have to state in their course catalogs whether they are accredited. If they are not accredited, they must inform students of any drawbacks to their degrees, including the possibility that they might be prohibited them from taking licensing exams. They will also have to post job placement and graduation rates and how much graduates earn.
The new law comes in the wake of recent lawsuits against universities and colleges for promoting inflated or inaccurate job placement data in order to attract new students and in response to increasing media coverage of “diploma mills” that bilk students for thousands of dollars in exchange for worthless diplomas or low quality education. Indeed, the Bay Citizen reported that the state agency responsible for oversight of private vocational schools, the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, had allowed many unaccredited schools to operate for years without state approval or inspections, and that it did not investigate some complaints against schools or shut down illegal diploma mills. The head of enforcement for the bureau recently resigned and Gov. Brown has named a new bureau chief.
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