Recent Department of Education rules changes ironically reinforce the importance of affiliation with AUPHA as an indicator of stability and of quality healthcare management education. More than in the recent past, students are being held accountable for the decisions they make regarding where to get an education and even what career options to pursue. With our reputation for quality healthcare management education, support provided to find a job and advance a career, the strong healthcare management market and our longevity, AUPHA member programs can assist students to make the best decision for their future.
Why does this matter now? As reported in a recent Inside Higher Education article and many other sources, the Department of Education has changed the rules regarding how students, defrauded by universities, can seek relief. It will now be more difficult for students. The rules, issued by the prior administration, arose because a number of institutions made false claims regarding job prospects to prospective students and concerning their success in placing students in jobs. Further, some of these institutions subsequently failed leaving the students with debt and no degree. The recent revision to these rules makes successful student claims more difficult by requiring that students prove the institution knowingly made false statements in advertising (not just making the claims but must have known them to be false); by prohibiting class action claims (forcing individual claims thus raising costs to student claimants); and limiting claims to students formally in default (a step some might hesitate to make).
The Department estimates that these changes will reduce the government’s responsibility for student claims by approximately $10.5B over the next decade. In the words of Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate education committee, the new rules “set important safeguards and clear standards for when a student can file a claim, so taxpayers aren’t paying for unreasonable or unsubstantiated claims of fraud.”
There are always two sides to an argument, however. Everyone agrees that institutions should not defraud students through false advertising but, also, frivolous charges of fraud cannot be allowed either to protect institutions. The Department’s changes, suggest that in the future, students need to be more responsible for performing due diligence before selecting an institution and a major. It seems that we have moved toward the “buyer beware philosophy” for higher education. This discussion is not a political statement for or against the changes but the new rules do have implications for our members and their students!
What does this imply for AUPHA member programs? As we brand AUPHA and member programs more intensively, students will be more inclined to select AUPHA member organizations because of our reputation for quality, how we support students outside of the classroom, the strength of healthcare management as a career option, and our longevity. We have been around for many years and have demonstrated a commitment to quality healthcare care management education. Our member programs have a strong tradition of helping students gain core competencies necessary for a successful career and will be around for students to finish their education and for years afterward. We also routinely assist students to obtain that first job and guide them through the steps of their career.