Kaplan Higher Ed laying off workers

By Dow Jones Newswires
Posted Dec. 8, 2010 at 6:35 a.m.

Washington Post Co.’s Kaplan Higher Education unit said it would be laying off about 5 percent of its work force, about 770 jobs, as it tries to strategically reduce enrollments of students less likely to repay their loans. About 185 of the positions are in Chicago, Crain’s Chicago Business reported..

Like other for-profit higher-education companies, Kaplan is under pressure from new government rules to reduce student-loan default rates. In response, the unit has planned a program that will require certain students to enroll on a provisional basis, tuition-free, in an effort to weed out unqualified students before they take on hefty loans.

Tuesday, Kaplan Chief Executive Jeff Conlon said the elimination of 770 position stemmed from overall slowing enrollments and the company’s decision to focus student selection on those “who are most likely to thrive in a rigorous academic environment and meet their financial obligations.”

He said those factors have shifted Kaplan’s personnel needs. He called the cuts difficult but necessary.

In its third-quarter results, Washington Post reported improved performance at the education division, which makes up the majority of the parent company’s revenue. Profit more than doubled on prior-year write-downs, revenue rose 9%, and enrollment in its higher-education programs was up 8 percent.

Washington Post shares were down 0.3% after hours at $392.95. The stock has declined 10 percent so far this year through the close as investors fret about the new regulations and the share of another key rule to come.

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