The future of higher education is often the subject of debate; what constitutes a valuable education for students continues to shift as student demographics change. Recently, government regulators and other external stakeholders have been questioning the value of for-profit higher education, specifically, citing for-profit colleges and universities that have not upheld their commitment to students.
For-profit education organizations like DeVry Education Group contend that their institutions are uniquely positioned to serve the new majority of students — those who juggle full-time jobs, families and other obligations in order to pursue their educational goals, typically years after they complete high school. This new normal is now the largest group of college attendees, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Some schools are working to demonstrate this unique value, and their commitment to students, by providing information to students making the decision to attend college. This includes setting and communicating new standards to help students achieve their educational and career goals, and formalizing their institution’s commitment to students through public proclamations designed to hold them accountable to student and stakeholder interests.
Chamberlain College of Nursing has made standards for student support part of the very fabric of its academic offering. Through an educational philosophy called Chamberlain Care, the organization has created a culture that fosters collaboration, cooperation and respect among all through a care-based set of beliefs, values and behaviors.
“We believe that if we provide our students with the care and support they need to be successful, they will go on to provide that same level of care as nurses,” says Susan Groenwald, national president of Chamberlain. “That’s why we built the Chamberlain Care model. It naturally extends outwards from each student to their patients and to the communities they serve.”
Recently, DeVry Education Group and its institutions, including Chamberlain College of Nursing, announced a set of Student Commitments formed in partnership with students and stakeholders to guide education and service to students. The commitments go above and beyond standard higher education policies and practices to provide a new level of public accountability in hopes of inspiring institutions throughout the industry. They also encourage dialogue about value in education that will ultimately benefit all students, regardless of the institution they attend, and the employers who seek to hire them.
The public proclamation outlines the following commitments, which Chamberlain hopes will serve as a model for other educators to consider for strengthening the industry’s commitment to students:
1. Informed student choice. Help students make informed decisions by providing information about program performance and costs, and an orientation around student support services, online learning platforms and academic policies.
2. Responsible recruitment and enrollment. Provide financial and academic advising to prospective students and benchmark and disclose recruiting expenditures against national standards.
3. Responsible participation in the federal loan process. Lower institutional limits on federal funding and provide students with a variety of ways to manage tuition costs.
4. Financial literacy and academic transparency. Increase student visibility into program progression, loan balance and financial position throughout their academic journey.
5. Improving student satisfaction. Conduct student surveys to track progress and actively respond to results and feedback.
6. Successful student outcomes and accountability. Identify and proactively engage with students who may be at risk for program completion, and account for student satisfaction and quality outcomes in performance management for executive leadership.
“Our role as educators is to lay the foundation for the future generation of leaders. Part of that is providing students with as many resources as possible to successfully complete their studies,” Groenwald says. “By committing to put our students first, we are ensuring that they get the most out of their education and can pay it forward in the workplace.”
When leaders in higher education voluntarily invest in transparent practices to strengthen the student experience, all stakeholders benefit. For the new majority of students who face challenges at work and at home, their academic success depends on a school’s commitment to them — not just their commitment to the school. Institutions like Chamberlain that put these students first are redefining the college experience and reinforcing the value of higher education today.