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Alta College, Inc., headquartered in Denver, is a company which owns three for-profit schools - Westwood College, Westwood College Online, and Redstone College. The college was founded in 1953, as Radio and Television Repair Institute and became the Denver Institute of Technology in 1974. Kirk Riedinger and Jamie Turner acquired the company in 1987 and began expanding into technical programs. The school opened its first campus outside of Denver in Los Angeles, California in 1999.
Westwood College now has 17 campuses across California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Texas and Virginia and a top-ranked online campus. Westwood College has 27 degree programs, including in business, design, technology, industrial services, justice and health care. More than 20,000 students have graduated from Westwood College. More than three-quarters of Westwood students who graduated between July 2007 and June 2008 are employed in their field of study. (Statistic is based on the employment rates of Westwood graduates for the period from July 2007-June 2008.) Employed in their field means the student's primary job duties closely match the core skills taught in the program. “Over 75 percent of adult Americans don’t have bachelor’s degrees,” explained Riedinger to the Denver Business Journal in June 2002. “We offer career-focused education to prepare students who are launching a career, changing a career or enhancing a career. Our curriculum is constantly updated based on the industry and the feedback we receive.”
Westwood is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges and the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, both of which are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Westwood College is licensed in each state in which they operate.
In addition to national accreditation, Westwood College became a candidate with the Higher Learning Commission and an affiliate of the North Central Association in October 2007. In 2009 Westwood completed the work and had the visits that are the necessary prerequisites to achieving initial regional accreditation. The HLC has said the process takes up to four years. Westwood has since withdrawn from this accreditation process.
Westwood College has been the subject of lawsuits alleging that it misleads students and publishes false statistic, among other allegations, brought by several US states and the federal government.
On April 20, 2009, the United States Department of Justice announced that Alta Colleges had agreed to pay the U.S. government $7 million to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that Alta's Texas schools submitted false claims for federal student aid funds. The college admitted no wrongdoing and was not required to change any of its practices.
In January 2012 the Illinois attorney general's office announced it would sue Westwood college for misleading students.