Chile rescinds accreditation of Apollo for-profit

August 9, 2012

Chile's only university owned by the global arm of US for-profit education giant Apollo Group has had its accreditation withdrawn.

On 18 July, following an unsuccessful appeal, Chile's National Education Council confirmed a decision by the National Accreditation Commission to stop accrediting the University for Arts, Sciences and Communication (UNIACC).

The university's students will no longer be eligible for the Chilean government's state-backed student loan system, which allows borrowing at below-market interest rates.

In its decision, the council said the university's goals and planning lacked clarity, and it criticised internal quality assurance mechanisms. It also expressed uncertainty over the institution's long-term sustainability and concern that its large projections of growth in e-learning would not guarantee adequate levels of quality.

Juan Enrique Froemel, rector of the university, said the situation had "no implication for the validity of certificates and degrees awarded by the university, nor for the continuity of the institution".

He called the decision "unjustified and inexplicable" and said the university could count on the unconditional support of its backers.

The cost and the quality of for-profit universities were among the targets of the student movement whose protests last year brought much of the country's capital, Santiago, to a halt.

The loss of accreditation is only one of several recent problems for UNIACC.

In 2008 it was accused by the government of profiting from a fellowship programme for victims, and descendants of victims, of human rights violations during Chile's military dictatorship. In an out-of-court settlement in 2009, the university agreed to repay $4.8 million (£3.09 million) to the Ministry of Education, which further exacerbated the financial difficulties that eventually led to more than 100 job losses in May this year.

Along with the UK's BPP University College, UNIACC is one of three institutions outside the US owned by Apollo Global, a majority-owned subsidiary of Apollo Group. Apollo Global purchased the Santiago-based institution in 2008.

elizabeth.gibney@tsleducation.com.

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