Higher ed groups call on Ed Dept to scrutinize Walden U sale

by Jeremy

Dive Brief:

  • Several higher education groups and policy organizations oppose the planned sale of Walden University, an online institution, from one for-profit college operator to another. They wrote in a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona this week.
  • The organizations called out Adtalem Global Education, which plans to acquire Walden, for its record of running an online university accused of engaging in misleading and aggressive recruiting practices.
  • They also expressed concerns with Adtalem seeking “unrestricted ability” to expand programs and enrollment levels at Walden and are asking the department to instead put caps on both.

Dive Insight:

Adtalem announced plans in September to acquire Walden from Laureate Education, a for-profit college operator, for $1.5 billion in cash. However, the Education Department must sign off on the sale, which is expected to be finalized toward the end of 2021.

According to SEC filings, the Ed Department notified Walden last month that it completed its pre-acquisition review of the sale, saying it did not find any reason that the university’s ability to receive federal financial aid would be discontinued after the deal closed.

The organizations objecting to the sale — including the Center for Responsible Lending, The Institute for College Access and Success and the American Federation of Teachers — urged the Ed Department to place limits on Adtalem’s ability to grow programs and enrollment at Walden after the deal closes. They also called out long-running issues with the online university and its future owner.

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