Online for-profit colleges compared to ‘predatory lending industry’ in whistleblower lawsuit

South University and The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – another EDMC school – presented misleading statistics about job placement after graduation, Sobek charged.

South University recruitment officials were instructed to tell prospective students that 92 percent of university graduates were employed in their field of studies. South University’s definition of employment was working a single day, or if the job was only somewhat related to their area of study.

For example, a South University student who graduated with an interior design degree and landed a job as a sales associate at Target for $19,000 a year was considered to be employed in his or her field of study.

The same was true for a fashion marketing graduate who was employed at a shoe store, making $14,000 annually.

Sobek said EDMC’s South University also misled prospective students on the school’s website and during campus tours. Students, for example, were told that the university’s nursing program was accredited. It was not, and Sobek said officials knew as much.

In fact, South University’s associate director of nursing and health professions told recruiters that they did not have to tell incoming students that the nursing program wasn’t accredited unless the student asked about accreditation.

In that case, “you have to tell them we’re in the process,” the associate director of nursing said, according to court documents.

The onslaught of lawsuits against the country’s largest operators of for-profit colleges – including the multiple suits against EDMC — has proven worrisome to online learning advocates.

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