July 17, 2018

Eighteen Art Institute Schools in the United States Will Close

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA—Eighteen locations of the Art Institutes, a system of private art education institutions founded in 1921, have stopped accepting new students, Sarah Cascone reports for Artnet. Schools facing imminent closure include those in Chicago, Detroit, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, among other large cities across the United States.

A spokesperson for Dream Center Education Holdings, the Art Institutes’ parent company, said the closures are necessary because of “a shift in the demand for online programs in higher education and in student populations at the campuses, which have resulted in declining, unsustainable enrollment levels for campus-based programs in these markets.” Dream Center Education Holdings, a missionary organization affiliated with the Assemblies of God church, will also shutter nine locations of its Argosy University and three branches of its Southern University systems.

In 2017, the Los Angeles-based Dream Center Education Holdings purchased thirty-one Art Institutes from Education Management Corporation of Pittsburgh for $60 million, intending to convert the for-profit schools into nonprofit organizations. A January 2018 press release on Dream Center’s websiteannounced the completion of that process.

Earlier this month, the for-profit Education Management Corporation filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, listing assets of less than $50,000 and liabilities totaling between $500 million and $1 billion. In a lawsuit against the New England Art Institutes, the Project on Predatory Lending at the Legal Services Center Harvard Law School has alleged EDMC engaged in “unfair and deceptive practices” to lure prospective students. Art Institutes in four states have had their accreditation cancelled.

The Art Institutes offer associates, bachelor, and master’s degrees in design, fashion, marketing, media arts, and culinary arts, and in 2017, enrolled over 22,000 students. Tuition for some four-year programs can exceed $90,000. Students that meet a minimum threshold of credits will be able to transfer to one of the thirteen remaining Art Institutes, though doing so would likely entail relocating. On its media contact page, the Dream Center has said it “will support current students by offering multiple options to continue their education.”

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