WASHINGTON — The government on Wednesday sued the operators of the for-profit DeVry University, alleging they misled consumers about students’ job and earnings prospects.
In the complaint, the Federal Trade Commission alleged that DeVry deceived students by claiming that 90 percent of its graduates actively seeking employment landed jobs in their fields within six months of graduation. The agency also says DeVry was misleading when it claimed its graduates had 15 percent higher incomes one year after graduation on average than graduates of all other colleges or universities.
Instead of landing jobs in their field of study, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said, some graduates found themselves working as delivery drivers or restaurant servers. She said up to 50,000 or so students may have been affected by the alleged wrongdoing.
In a statement, DeVry Education Group, parent of DeVry University, said the commission’s allegations are “without a valid legal basis” and that the company “intends to vigorously contest” the complaint.
The FTC is seeking a court order to stop DeVry from making its advertising claims, via TV, radio and elsewhere. Ramirez said the commission would seek monetary relief for those affected but that it was too early to say how much money that might involve.
“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,” Ramirez said.
DeVry, based in Downers Grove, said there is no national standard for calculating employment statistics among higher education institutions, and the measures and standards used by DeVry are appropriate.
“DeVry University is an honorable institution with more than 80 years of providing high-quality, career-oriented education,” Daniel Hamburger, DeVry Group’s president and CEO, said in a written statement. “DeVry Group is confident in our defense and looks forward to demonstrating the accuracy and credibility of our students’ career success.”
In concert with the FTC lawsuit, the Education Department announced its own action against DeVry.
Under Secretary Ted Mitchell said the department has informed DeVry that it must stop making certain claims about its postgraduation outcomes and that it must inform students that it cannot substantiate those claims — or risk losing federal student loan money if it fails to do so.
DeVry has more than 55 campuses across the country, offering online or on-campus degree programs in business, technology and healthcare technology.
BY JENNIFER C. KERR, Associated Press