Editors note: This story has been updated with new details from Stevens-Henager College about how the Idaho Falls campus will be used in the future. It also has been updated to reflect Stevens-Henager's nonprofit status.
After years of low graduation rates, Stevens-Henager College has ended enrollment in all programs at its Idaho Falls location as the school moves toward an online-only education model.
Felicia Wright, executive director of the Idaho Falls campus, said the college would continue to offer classes for the students currently enrolled for degrees but would stop admitting any new students outside of the online programs. There are 60 students currently enrolled in the Idaho Falls campus located at Snake River Landing and the switchover will occur over the next two or three years.
Stevens-Henager College is managed by the Center for Excellence in Higher Education, a Utah-based nonprofit that also oversees Independence University and CollegeAmerica. Stevens-Henager currently has five campus locations in Utah, one in Boise and one in Idaho Falls, which also qualifies as a branch of CollegeAmerica in Flagstaff, Ariz.
CEO Eric Juhlin said the Stevens-Henagar campus in Ogden, Utah, would be the only one still enrolling new students for on-campus classes. He said the switch to online courses would allow more flexibility and control for students and that the physical location in Idaho Falls will likely remain in use in some way.
“We are contemplating a model where we deliver a majority of lessons through the online format but have regional support centers where our medical students can come in to do their laboratory work hands-on,” Juhlin said.
The move to online instruction comes amid multiple investigations into the Center for Excellence in Higher Education and the Stevens-Henager locations over its business practices and success in teaching students. In 2018, 11 campuses managed by the Center for Excellence in Higher Education, including the Idaho Falls campus, were placed on probation by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges after the commission found systemic issues with student achievement at the schools and how the schools advertised themselves.
“The character of the responses portrays an institutional culture of disregard of the school’s responsibility to support the accreditation process,” the commission wrote in a 2018 letter.
Five of the six degree programs taught at the Idaho Falls campus failed to meet Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges benchmarks for either their graduation rates or employment rates, according to the 2018 report. The business administration program saw its graduation rate drop from 33 percent to 8 percent; the commission’s benchmark graduation rate is 40 percent. Less than a third of the graduates from the healthcare administration and accounting programs were employed in their field at the time of that report.
Juhlin said that probation was not a “negative action” by the commission and that it merely allowed the overseeing commission and the college to address concerns in a way that would not impact current students.
“Where a campus is below the benchmark, we are implementing several strategies, some of which have been ongoing for several years, to see and drive improvement for those programs,” Juhlin said.
A follow-up letter in May ordered the school to cease enrolling students into its business administration and healthcare administration bachelor degree programs after finding they had graduation rates of 10 percent and 17 percent, respectively. The website for the Idaho Falls campus only lists associate and bachelor’s degrees in those fields as the ones available on their campus.
All Stevens-Henager locations remained on probation after a second meeting with the commission in February and the May follow-up letter. A follow-up meeting between the groups was held in August and Juhlin said the Center for Excellence in High Education would submit a new letter of response by the end of the year.
The Center for Excellence in Higher Education is also under investigation by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau over whether it had enrolled students into loan programs without their consent.
The Stevens-Henager College website says the Idaho Falls location began offering in-person classes in May 2011 and moved to its current location in Snake River Landing in 2012. Tuition at the school in Idaho Falls is $18,021 per year, the same price as for the online-only courses through Stevens-Henager.