I was an employee at ITT Technical Institute. Here's the problem. Relating anecdotal evidence is worthless here, in court or, anywhere for that matter. This will not affect operations at the corporate level one ioda. This is because the government, the investors, and ultimately the students, are being duped by slick, good ole fashioned snake oil salesmen/women. In an age when people are less attentive to what's going on and more concerned with who was kicked off the island or, isn't going to be an "idol", we allow these savy money grabbers to dupe the legislators, local municipalities, students,parents et al into thinking that that they are offering an "education for the future". Oh, and by the way; at up to 70K+ for the privelage. Truth be told they are offering basically what they say they are. Problem is it is being taken at face value. You have heard of predatory lenders? Nuff said. Ultimately it isn't ITT's fault because we live in a free market economy where consumers have access to information and should be informed about what they are buying, right? If you are an investor, then buy, buy, buy. Hell, I wish I could ride the wave like some of the corporate top dogs. Most sadly is that some of the perps actually believe what they are selling. Funny how money can change your perspective isn't it? No matter how you package it and sell it to the public it's like the old saying. You can put a suit on a monkey; you still got a monkey.
Sad, but true.
What is especially sad is that this school could be doing so much better in its market space. The course mix is decent and the offerings are pretty good. They simply need to return to their roots of providing a good education to those who are going for a second chance, instead if conning so many unqualified students into entering the classroom for a quarter or two of tuition.
Unfortunately, they seem intent on cutting costs to the point where they are spiraling down. They have been forced by market pressures to return to using decent textbooks and they have been forced by market pressures to bring the students back into the classroom where a good and qualified instructor can help them around the problems in the curriculum.
The failure of the on-line was not because of the concept, but because of the way ITT implemented it. Ironically, now is the time to have an on-line offering with gas prices going up so high, but their third rate on-line program has such a bad reputation that many will not opt for it.
The students have told me that the problem with the on-line program was that it was too rigid and the instructors were jerks who did not care. They saw no difference between the $1,500 ITT on-line class and the similar class for $100 at the local community college.
The ITT course materials are pathetic in that people for whom English is not their primary language often write the books and tests. Tests are filled with vague and ambiguous questions that lead the students into providing incorrect answers even though they know the material. Some instructor answer sheets have the incorrect answers. ITT rules prohibit an instructor from altering the tests or throwing out a bad question, but the full-time instructors often do just that in order to help the image of the school.
The reason I think ITT is putting the last nail in their coffin is that so much of their success has been based on instructors simply ignoring upper management and personally improving the curriculum deficiencies. With the pushing out of full-time faculty, the adjuncts tend to not care and not want to rock the boat so they follow the stupid rules. In addition, as the on-line students return to the classrooms, they will be faced with inexperienced and uncaring adjunct instructors and will continue to leave.
All of ITT�s inept changes have been to mimic the University of Phoenix, but management does not understand that UoP has a completely different type of student, which is why it works at UoP but fails at ITT. UoP students are seeking a second chance and not a handout, they get good adjunct instructors who are paid about twice as much so it attracts better people, and UoP is regionally accredited so their units transfer to more places and their diplomas are accepted by more people.
I'm an instructor at ITT and have noticed some unfortunate trends recently. First: A freeze of sorts was placed on our pension plans. (Implication: A cut in our income.) Second: Premium classes no longer exist. (Implication: A cut in our income.) Third: Every instructor's income has been tied directly to whether or not a student stays in school--the dreaded "student persistence." Example: A student passes my class but decides to leave ITT before the next quarter begins. I eat that statistic and it affects my rating for my annual review. (Implication: A cut in our income.) Fourth: Rene Champagne, who ranks as the fifth wealthiest CEO in a publicly traded company, has announced that 10 more new campuses are in the works for 2010 or so. Fifth: ESI stock has remained somewhat static, if not outright stagnant, for quite some time now.
With all of these events, along with some snippets in the news about ITT/ESI talking to Canada and the People's Republic of China, are they in the market to sell ESI? Is it a case of what libertadonow said? It seems like they're tring to gussy up the monkey so somebody'll take it, even though it's still a monkey.
Any thoughts about this, you guys?
I think this is a pretty good, well thought out analysis.
Your analysis of some of the differences in approach and customer base between ESI and UoP are particularly astute in a way that is rare for this board. The management and offerings of those two companies are profoundly different.
Lots of people on this board have alleged fraud of various types. Anyone who has experience on the inside at HQ would know that this isn't likely because of the tremendous amount of scrutiny over the last two years.
Despite the venom on this board, shareholders should recognize what management does well here. The are pretty good at managing cash, controlling expenses and detailed analysis of numbers. These things aren't popular with staff or customers, but do make shareholders happy for as long as results meet market expectations.
The primary problem at ESI is that the quality of the product just isn't very good. The strategy of ESI for the last several years doesn't involve quality product. Their IT degrees were successful because they were first to market with a product that their customers wanted.
Curricula are developed very quickly at ITT. Product quality is expected to be only Good Enough that students and staff don't leave in droves. Their assessment of Good Enough isn't scientific and is often wrong (think NIT textbooks, online education, software changes, quizzes and tests). Corrective action isn't taken until there is a measureable effect on the big three:
(Of the three above, #3 is the least important)
ITT will likely never get regional accreditation. This would increase the costs of developing curricula and slow down the process of getting to market. The average ITT customer doesn't know the difference between regional and national accreditation.
Many recent posters have whined about instructor compensation and course loads and assume that executives don't know that permanent instructors will leave over this. The latest move with instructor pay is likely an experiment in playing the variables. Employees are expensive. Adjunct faculty are less expensive. The management assumptions are that permanent faculty aren't all that good, significant numbers of permanent faculty won't be able to get work elsewhere, customers won't care enough to leave en masse, college will be able to get adjuncts. Time will tell.
One thing you neglected to mention: they need to bring back ALL of the instructors that they screwed. It would be a great PR ploy to show that they can take what they've dished out to so damn MANY caring people. However, it ain't going to happen. Their reputation has steadily gone downhill, and ultimately this company will miserably fail!