Powerful Senator Calls for Audit of Job Placement Numbers at For-Profit College EDMC

Senator Dick Durbin

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Assistant Majority Leader of the Senate, is calling for an audit of what he termed “baseless” job placement numbers reported by Education Management Corporation (EDMC).  Senator Durbin made that request and issued a press release, after reviewing data exposed by whistleblower Jason Sobek, a James Hoyer Law Firm client.

EDMC is the second largest for-profit college provider in the United States.  The company owns The Art Institutes, South University, Argosy University and Brown Mackie College and has more than 150,000 students.  Senator Durbin called for the audit in a letter sent to EDMC’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Sobek was interviewed by ABC News in a report which investigated questionable job placement statistics reported by the for-profit college company.  Durbin, who was also interviewed in the report, was so concerned he decided to take action by sending the letter, which said, in part:

The lawsuit highlighted in a recent ABC news report against the Education Management Corporation (EDMC) by a former EDMC employee raises serious concerns about the validity of EDMC’s reported job placement rates. I urge you to carefully audit all job placement rates reported by EDMC.

Among the many questionable job placements counted in the data as students successfully working in their field, were an Accounting graduate working as a McDonald’s cashier, a Business Administration graduate working as a Walmart Customer Service Rep, and a Fashion Marketing graduate working as a shoe salesman.

Durbin reviewed the job placement database material and came to this conclusion in the ABC News story:

“It’s just plain fraud and your whistle-blower has brought it to light,” Durbin told ABC News. “These students get sucked in by these ads, sign up for debt, sign up for courses that lead to nowhere,” Durbin says.

In his letter to the SACS, Durbin says he is “deeply concerned” and urges the accrediting body to take action.

Students and families rely on accreditors for the seal of approval you provide. Given the baseless job placement numbers provided by one of EDMC’s schools with SACS accreditation, the Council should re-evaluate current methodology, documentation and reporting requirements for job placement. I urge SACS to audit other schools owned by EDMC to ensure that all of EDMC’s students are working with accurate information about their post-secondary education.

A Federal Magistrate Judge in Pennsylvania recently recommended that Sobek’s case against EDMC move forward. The suit alleges the for-profit college company misrepresented, not only job placement statistics, but also accreditation, and failed to adequately track student academic progress.

The case is a concern for students and taxpayers, because nearly 90-percent of the tuition paid to the company comes from federal loans and grants. Click here to read Senator Durbin’s entire press release.