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For-profit university seeks exemption from state law

January 13, 2012

Neumont University is looking to open a branch in Providence by 2013, but first it has to get around a state law prohibiting Bachelors and Masters degrees at for-profit institutions.

Neumont President Ned Levine says he expects bills to be introduced in both houses of the Rhode Island legislature this month to exempt Neumont from the law. If it passes, the legislation would allow Neumont to seek approval for a Rhode Island campus from the State Board of Higher Education.

Neumont offers degrees in computer science and software development at its current campus in Utah. Levine says the school plans to offer similar degrees in Rhode Island and already has relationships with several local companies.

“Companies like GTECH and FM Global are currently coming to Utah to recruit our students,” Levine said. “That demonstrates the scarcity of computer software developers here in Rhode Island.”

Levine has longstanding ties to Rhode Island. He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and later served on its board of trustees. He co-founded a local bicycle design and marketing company called Rhode Gear, which at one point had two factories in Rhode Island employing hundreds of people. Levine went on to found a business strategy and brand planning firm before taking a job at Johnson & Wales University. He proudly says that he still has a Rhode Island driver’s license.

While for-profit universities have been under increasing scrutiny in recent years, Levine maintains that Neumont has a good reputation. The school serves 350 students in Utah, who attend classes five days a week. A Bachelors degree takes just 2 ½ years to complete at a cost of roughly $72,000.

According to Neumont, 68 percent of students complete their degrees, and 95 percent of those who graduate go on to find employment in their field.

“The unemployment rate for computer scientists is zero,” Levine said.

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