Computer coding schools need licensing, state says [The Orange County Register :: ]
(Orange County Register (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 03--California regulators have notified a handful of private, for-profit schools teaching computer coding that they must be licensed by the state or face a $50,000 fine.
"We want to make sure that students are protected," said Russ Heimerich, spokesman for the state Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, noting that some of the programs cost upwards of $10,000.
He added that this division of the state Department of Consumer Affairs focuses on licensing training programs that charge consumers more than $2,500 for an entire course of instruction.
"We're not interested in collecting the fine. We're interested in making sure they comply with the law," Heimerich said.
The seven schools that received letters from the bureau in January are located in the San Francisco Bay Area. But some groups also have locations in other cities, including Los Angeles and New York.
General Assembly, which has a Santa Monica campus, offers a three-month, five-day-a-week Web development immersive course that costs $11,500. It's described as giving students the skills to become an entry-level Web developer and the resources to get a job. The school says that a high number of job-seeking immersive students find new, paid employment within three months of graduation.
General Assembly, which was founded in 2011 in New York, had already been working on its application for the bureau when the school received its letter. CEO Jake Schwartz said in a statement that General Assembly is "eager to cooperate" with the bureau.
Hack Reactor, another school that received a compliance request from the bureau, offers a software engineering course six days a week for three months at $17,780. The course, started in 2012, is offered eight times per year with about 30 students enrolling in each cohort, said Hack Reactor CEO Anthony Phillips. He added that the school has a high job placement rate with salaries that average more than six figures. But the program doesn't issue a certificate of any kind.
"It's important that when we talk about what makes sense in terms of standards for ourselves and the whole industry, you don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater and get rid of the amazing things we're doing by trying to apply something meant for a different animal," Phillips said. He noted that there's a huge demand for people who can program.
Hack Reactor and four of the other schools released a statement saying, "We welcome appropriate oversight in our fledgling industry, and are in close discussions with the BPPE to define our classification and take appropriate next steps."
State law requires private postsecondary schools that are not accredited and don't meet religious exemptions to be regulated by the bureau. Part of the protections it provides for consumers include collecting assessments from schools for its Student Tuition Recovery Fund. If a school closes and can't refund the cost of education, the fund can step in and do that, Heimerich says.
The bureau, in its current form, was created by 2009 legislation that took effect in 2010. It wasn't up and fully operating until the fall of 2012, according to Heimerich.
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