Fall of the “Good” Culinary Arts School: Le Cordon Bleu

February 9, 2016
Sacre Bleu!

Sacre Bleu!

Le Cordon Bleu announced Dec 23 2015 it would close all its campuses in October 2016. We have waited six weeks to learn if the “famous” chefs school would offer further insight into why they decided to bail out. We thought we might learn about a Gainful Employment guidelines warning from USDE. After all, they alluded to such in their press announcement. But nothing new has been released. It looks like Le Cordon Bleu simply cut its losses and bailed out on students, teachers and graduates.

This is a choice only the largest for-profit vocational schools under investigation for fraud can make. Apollo Group, the owners of Phoenix University, announced they have found a buyer for their failing campuses. The thousands of smaller operations will not have that choice. Like the Marinello Schools of Beauty they will be forced to close quickly as they can once they receive their bad news from the USDE. Many will choose the Cordon Bleu path – get out before the axe falls. This is not the first time a school has turned its back on everything and everyone who enriched the “educators” and it won’t be the last. Julia Child would choke on this ham dish.

“Le Cordon Bleu is considered to be the guardian of French culinary technique through its culinary programmes that continue to preserve and pass on the mastery and appreciation of the culinary arts that have been the cornerstone of French gastronomy for over 500 years.[1] The company cited “the impact of the federal government’s new regulations on career colleges” for its decision, referring to “the Obama administration’s gainful employment rule, which cuts off federal financial aid to schools where graduates borrow money at high rates to pay for school but earn little after graduation.” When reached by phone for further information or comment, a representative for the school hung up.”[2]

LCB table 2

Rules to play the counting grads game: The object is to diminish the denominator which increases the percentage! According to data reported by LCB to BPPE half the students graduated (“completed” and three quarters found jobs (“placement rate”). The following list of definitions are essential to coming up with as high a percent as possible.

students started – number of students who began the program minus the number of students who have died, been incarcerated or been called to active military duty

available for grad– number of students who completed the program within 100% of the published program period

graduate on time – number of graduates divided by the number of students availabl7e for graduation.

completion % – number of graduates minus the number of graduates that either died, etc.

grads available for employment – number of graduates employed in the field divided by the number of graduates available for employment

placement rate/percent – number of graduates who are gainfully employed within six months of graduation in a position for which the skills obtained through the employed in the field – education and training provided by the institution are required or provided a significant advantage to the graduate in obtaining the position

How the real world sees things: There are two Le Cordon Bleu campuses in California. In 2013 they enrolled 2360 students in nine programs granting diploma certificates (~$19,000) and associate of arts degrees (~$37,000). No program is longer than 11 months. The schools and programs are accredited by the ACICS [4]. Half of the students who began graduated and were available for employment. Seventy-four percent of those who graduated were available for employment which computes to 36% of those who started any LCB program. One could argue the “success rate” for Le Cordon Bleu students is slightly more than one third. This means two out of three students who begin a Le Cordon Bleu program fail find a job.

Among the 860 graduates working in the culinary field 40% were working part-time (less than 32 hours weekly). Twenty-two percent were earning $20,000 or less, 21% between $20,000 and $40,000; and 0.6% (five graduates) reported earning as much as $50,000. Le Cordon Bleu listed earnings for fewer than half of those reportedly working. It is unknown why LCB did not report employment for the remaining half of graduates they claimed were working in their chosen profession. It is also not known whether anyone else noticed this discrepancy.

This report has been prepared by Steven H. Stumpf, EdD / Health Core Possibilities / sstumpf@stevenstumpf.com / 818 571 3930



[1] http://www.cordonbleu.edu/home/en

[2] http://www.eater.com/2015/12/17/10401492/le-cordon-bleu-cooking-school-america-closing

[3] 74.3% of grads available for employment however that total is 36.4% of all students who started a Le Cordon Bleu program

[4] Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools and the American Culinary Federation

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