Wellesley College confirms inquiry in DOJ antitrust probe on admissions

11 April 2018 2:16pm
Department of Justice Sign

9 April 2018. By Claude Marx.

Wellesley College confirmed to MLex Monday that it has received a letter from the Department of Justice seeking information on their early-decision admissions programs as part of the department’s investigation of whether these programs violate federal antitrust laws.

“On April 5 and 6, the Justice Department sent letters pertaining to early-decision practices to a number of colleges nationwide. Wellesley is in receipt of the letter and it is in the hands of our general counsel. As we find out more information, we will be updating our community as we are able," a spokesman for the Massachusetts school said in a voicemail message.

The letter seeks information on topics including agreements, both formal and informal, to exchange or otherwise disclose the identities of accepted students with persons at other colleges or universities, according to Inside Higher Education, which first reported the investigation. It also reported that Amherst College had received a letter.

Amherst, which is also in Massachusetts, confirmed the inquiry to MLex.

“Amherst has been contacted by the Department of Justice and is fully cooperating with their request for information. We understand from reporting that we are among multiple colleges contacted. We cannot comment further at this time,” Amherst spokeswoman Caroline Hanna wrote in an email.

DOJ spokesman Jeremy Edwards wrote in an email: “As a matter of policy, the Department of Justice does not confirm, deny, or otherwise comment, on the existence or nonexistence of investigations.”

Under early admissions programs, students who apply early in the cycle agree that they will attend the school if admitted. Some colleges have shared information about admitted students to enforce these commitments, according to media reports.

This is the second antitrust investigation related to college admissions that the department has launched since the start of the year. In January, the DOJ sent a civil investigative demand to the National Association for College Admission Counseling to find out if it restricts competition through its code of conduct. According to industry sources, the CID focuses on the sections of the code dealing with dates, deadlines and procedures.

- With additional reporting by Kirk Victor

ABA 2019