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Why a Code of Conduct Matters for Private Career Colleges

Ethical conduct in institutions of higher education has been a hot topic on the news in recent years. Though college admissions practices and athletics recruiting violations often land headlines, for-profit and private career colleges have gotten the bad press of their own. The International Association of Private Career Colleges has responded by creating a Code of Ethics that member institutions must follow. This code provides important guidelines for schools and can serve as a model for institutional codes of conduct at private career colleges.

Why is a Code of Conduct Needed for Private Career Colleges?

The IAPCC Code of Ethics establishes quality standards while promoting integrity and protection for both member institutions and their students. Adopting a code of conduct is an important step towards protecting private career colleges from media and legal issues caused by poor ethical choices on the part of staff or students. Scholar J. Patrick Dobel notes that “[codes of conduct] also can help restore public trust, provide guidance, and be a source of professional identity and reference” for colleges.

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The American Association of University Administrators and the National Education Association publish their own ethical conduct standards that members are expected to follow. Outside the U.S., the Council of International Schools publishes similar guidelines for member institutions. Adopting codes of conduct has become essential in four-year colleges and universities. Private career colleges can also benefit by creating such codes.

On an institutional level, the Code of Ethics from the International Association of Private Career Colleges

  • sets standards for the selection of teachers and trainers as well as class design,
  • encourages building educational environments that bolster student success,
  • demands financial accountability across the admissions and attendance cycle,
  • sets standards for the handling of private student and staff information,
  • lays out ethical marketing guidelines,
  • encourages strong relations between private career colleges and
  • explains how complaints about code violations are handled.
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Protecting Students

Many have argued that the ethical climate of a college has an influence on the moral and ethical choices of everyone on campus. Researchers have suggested that students who are led by unethical administrators and teachers are more likely to display unethical behavior than those who attend a school with a strong code of conduct. Setting high standards for student behavior and enforcing those standards to the extent possible sets students on the path to success and helps protect a college’s wider reputation too.

On a student level, the Code of Ethics

  • ensures that students are provided with an orientation session,
  • protects the needs of students in multicultural communities,
  • provides guidelines for interacting with international students and students under the age of 18,
  • ensures appropriate handling and application of monetary payments,
  • sets standards for equality of opportunity in both program and job placements, and
  • protects the overall quality of education in the training program.
Of course, the Code of Ethics promoted by the IAPCC is also designed to help protect the reputation of the private career college industry on the whole. The more schools that adopt and follow conduct rules, the better the perception of the industry in the public eye. Building a strong reputation for private career colleges as a whole by carefully following the IAPCC's Code of Ethics is essential for the long-term success of every school in our industry. 
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