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Follow the new regulations or get out of Alabama: That's the message two year college Chancellor Bradley Byrne sent to so called "diploma mills". Byrne announced new initiatives to shut down sham schools and better regulate legitimate "for profit" institutions.
Columbus University in Baldwin County calls itself "the established name in distance education," but Chancellor Bradley Byrne calls it a diploma mill. He said, "Our guidelines need to be tougher."
The Department of Post Secondary Education revoked Columbus University's licence in May. Byrne says Columbus and institutions like it are no longer welcome in Alabama. In a press conference, Byrne laid out new guidelines for for-profit institutions. It includes: audited financial statements, annual licensing and requirements for owners and directors to have good reputations. "At the end of the day, we think this is the appropriate scheme for regulating and overseeing this very important area, said Byrne.
In addition to strengthening guidelines, the system will also increase its manpower. To help pay for additional staff, it will increase fees. Byrne says, "You can have all the best guidelines and policies you want, but if you don't have the staff to oversee it, it means nothing."
At least one private institution supports the department's initiatives. South University in Montgomery said the move protects citizens from illegitimate diploma mills. "A legitimate school is going to be very transparent and informative about what their programs are," said the University's President Victor K. Biebighauser.
Byrne says every January the system will publish a report card that will not only allow people to see how public colleges are performing, but also know exactly what they're getting from for-profit institutions. The new regulations become effective October first.