- Woz U, the coding boot camp launched by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, could close after Arizona higher education regulators voted not to renew its license and denied an ownership change, the Arizona Republic reported. The school has until June 11 to request a hearing to contest the decision or it must cease operations in the state.
- Concerns raised by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education include Woz U's relationship with Brent Richardson, former CEO of the embattled Dream Center Education Holdings (DCEH) and part-owner of Woz U. The board cited other ownership, administrative and financial concerns in its decision as well.
- In a statement, the Scottsdale, Arizona-based school said the board "overlooked" its "many accomplishments" in helping build a technology workforce in Arizona. Woz U plans to appeal the decision, and the Republic reports Richardson said he would sell his ownership in Woz U.
In a letter to Woz U obtained by the Republic, the board "expressed a concern" over the school's "management capability" in light of Richardson's involvement in DCEH. The letter details the swift collapse of the Art Institutes and Argosy University college chains under the nonprofit DCEH, which left students and staff reeling.
Although it plans to appeal the board's decision, Woz U said in its statement that its "unique and transforming Education-as-a-Service business model does not rely on having an Arizona postsecondary license." Woz U's is a regular vocational program license.
Woz U, which opened in the fall of 2017, offers online and in-person skills training in software development, cybersecurity and data science. It is one of a growing number of alternative education programs, often called boot camps, that seek to help workers build a specific set of skills to advance in their job or get a new one.
The school caught flak last fall amid complaints by former students and staff that the information used in the classes was out-of-date or otherwise faulty, that the program lacked instructors and that sales staff were highly pressured to sign up students, CBS News reported. Woz U said it was improving its materials and denied the recruitment pressure.
Boot camps are working their way into college curriculums as institutions look for ways to diversify their revenue streams and draw a wider range of students. They're paying mind to some of the issues affecting earlier generations of boot camps, around student outcomes accountability and branding, by teaming up with universities or companies.
As evidence of that, online program manager 2U picked up boot camp provider Trilogy Education last month; Trilogy itself already worked with colleges and companies. Zovio, formerly Bridgepoint Education, also recently acquired a boot camp.
On the other end of the spectrum, boot camp provider General Assembly was bought by staffing firm Adecco last year, and coworking company WeWork bought the Flatiron School in 2017. Woz U, for its part, has embarked on K-12, higher ed and workforce partnerships.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Brent Richardson's role with Dream Center Education Holdings. He is a former CEO.