Vanishing Campuses: 29 Colleges to Shut Down

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Just two weeks after Corinthian Colleges abruptly announced it was shuttering 28 campuses, two more for-profit college chains have announced closures.

According to Inside Higher Ed, years of declining revenue and enrollment have taken their toll on the for-profit college industry, leading Education Management Corporation and Career Education Corp., two of the largest for-profit chains, to close dozens of campuses across the United States.

Career Education Corp. said it plans to close or sell all 14 of its Sanford-Brown College and Institute campuses as part of a broad restructuring plan. The campuses and online programs will be phased out over the next 18 months. About 8,600 students will be affected.

In the end, the Illinois-based company will continue operating Colorado Technical University and American InterContinental University campuses. IHE said those two universities enroll the vast majority of Career Education’s 45,000 students.

“We believe in the strength of the academic programs at our Career Colleges, but the unfortunate reality is that a more difficult higher education marketplace and challenging regulatory environment have handicapped our ability to turn these institutions around quickly and operate these programs effectively long-term,” Ron McCray, chairman and interim CEO of Career Education Corp., said in a statement. “Declining student enrollment and financial losses at our Career College campuses, combined with the ‘Gainful Employment’ regulations issued last year factored into our decision.”

Pittsburgh-based EDMC said it will shutter 15 Art Institute campuses across the country over the next few years, affecting about 5,500 students, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The affected schools are not accepting any new enrollments, but they are allowing current students to complete their degree work.

“Our primary concern is ensuring that currently enrolled students receive a high-quality education that will equip them with the skills and expertise they need to earn a meaningful return on their educational investment,” according to the company’s announcement.

The cascading closures of for-profit college campuses suggests that the industry is contending with long-term challenges, Kevin Kinser, an expert on for-profit colleges at State University of New York at Albany told IHE.

“They have clearly moved away from waiting for the good times to return and are now trying to adjust to the new normal of smaller enrollments and more regulatory scrutiny,” Kinser said in an email to IHE. “The changes we are seeing ripple through the industry are the collective recognition that business as usual is a sinking ship.”

It certainly seems that these campus closures could signal the beginning of the end for the embattled for-profit college industry.

What do you think of the for-profit college closures? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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