DeVry University Sued for Falsifying Graduates' Job Placement, Income StatsBy Russell Westerholm
Another for-profit college company is coming under fire for allegedly spreading false job placement statistics in order to attract prospective students.
The Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday a lawsuit against DeVry Education Group accusing its main campus, DeVry University, of exaggerating how quickly and easily graduates find jobs in their fields in a national advertising campaign.
"Millions of Americans look to higher education for training that will lead to meaningful employment and good pay," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in the news release. "Educational institutions like DeVry owe prospective students the truth about their graduates' success finding employment in their field of study and the income they can earn."
DeVry boasted 90 percent of its graduates found jobs in their fields within six months of graduating, according to The Huffington Post. The FTC alleged the school system had been using such overinflated stats since at least 2008, affecting tens of thousands of students.
The FTC also accused DeVry of misrepresenting its graduates' average incomes within a year of graduating. Since 2013, DeVry peddled a statistic that claimed its graduates were earning incomes 15 percent higher "than the graduates of all other colleges or universities" within a year of graduation.
The lawsuit singles out television ads that later appeared on YouTube in which the people in the advertisements are fielding job offers while the voiceover cites the allegedly exaggerated job placement figures.
DeVry CEO Daniel Hamburger said in a statement his company will fight the lawsuit and "looks forward to demonstrating the accuracy and credibility of our students' career success."
The FTC's lawsuit comes just months after the Education Department shut down Corinthian Colleges after investigating the for-profit education company for falsifying job placement stats. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had also sued the company for leading its prospective students to take out high-interest loans, The Washington Post reported in April.
Then in Nov., Education Management Corp and the Justice Department announced a $100 million settlement to end various state attorneys general's investigations over allegations of deceptive recruiting tactics used on prospective students. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted EDMC did not admit fault, but pledged to be more transparent.
"As required by the law and expected by the public, institutions need to be accurate in their marketing and recruiting to prospective students. And we confirm this truthfulness of advertisements through the backup information schools provide upon request," Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said in the FTC's release. "The Department and the FTC's related announcements today are the result of much collaboration and cooperation. We are grateful to our partners at the FTC for their hard work and dedication on this matter."