San Diego Business Journal

Ashford University Granted Key Accreditation; Bridgepoint Shares Rise

Friday, July 12, 2013

Shares of Bridgepoint Education Inc. were up 20 percent July 11 to $15.12 on the New York Stock Exchange following news the day before that one of the San Diego company’s academic units Ashford University was granted accreditation for five years by the Western Association of Schools and College.

The agency said in a letter to Bridgepoint that “the university responded to commission concerns and judges that it is now in substantial compliance with commission standards.”

In June 2012, WASC denied accreditation to Ashford, citing the college’s low graduation rate, retention rate, inadequate full-time faculty and an over-emphasis on spending for marketing.

The company was also notified by its current accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, that Ashford didn’t have a substantial presence in its region. Ashford is physically based in Iowa, but Bridgepoint maintains most of its staff in San Diego.

According to the WASC report, “the team found an institution that has been fundamentally transformed and whose culture has been changed in significant ways, including a shift from a market driven approach to an institution committed to student retention and success…”

Bridgepoint CEO Andrew Clark said his company and board appreciated the recognition of Ashford’s efforts and knows the same efforts will benefit students through ongoing and new initiatives the university has implemented.

During the second quarter, Bridgepoint said it made operating cost reductions to better align its operations to its reduced student enrollment. For the second quarter, total enrollment will be between 71,000 and 72,000, and revenue will range from $195.5 million to $199.5 million. It will release its quarterly results Aug. 6.

In 2011, Bridgepoint’s enrollment was about 85,000.

— Mike Allen