San Diego Business Journal

Bridgepoint Cutting Workforce

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bridgepoint Education Inc., the San Diego for-profit provider of online college classes, said it’s cutting 450 employees at its Ashford University college who were focused only on the admission process.

Bridgepoint also said in a statement that it is conducting a restructuring of its staff both in San Diego and in Denver, and is reassigning 200 of Ashford University’s admission personnel to positions within a new department of Student Inquiry. That department will work with prospective students to ensure they are sufficiently prepared for the demands of a university education, the company said.

Another 200 of Ashford’s admissions workers were reassigned to the Student Services department to provide support for new and existing students, Bridgepoint said.

One of the area’s fastest growing companies, Bridgepoint is taking the some serious corrective actions following a July revelation that the Western Association of Schools and Colleges denied Ashford’s request for accreditation.

The school currently is accredited by a different entity — the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Region, where it maintains its actual campus in Clinton, Iowa. However, that entity has asked that Ashford comply with a requirement to maintain a substantial presence of its operations in the Midwest region.

In its report on denial of accreditation, WASC noted a number of issues that Bridgepoint must address to qualify for the necessary designation, including putting more emphasis on helping existing students, and less on admitting new students.

In July, Bridgepoint said it had about 9,000 employees nationally, and about 5,000 at four locations in the county, making it one of the area’s biggest employers.

Since the news that Ashford was denied accreditation, shares of Bridgepoint, traded on the New York Stock Exchange under BPI, have fallen more than $12. The stock closed at $10.24 on Sept. 26, up 18 cents from the prior day’s close. The 52 week range is $8.11 to $27.26.