Monday, 10 Dec 2018

The closure of Virginia College and Brightwood College; for-profit operator cites declining enrollment

(iStock) Education Corp. of America, owner of a national chain of for-profit schools including Virginia College and Brightwood College in Maryland, is shutting down this week due to declining registrations and regulatory pressures. "This is not the result we have envisioned and it's a result that, we acknowledge, will have a dramatic impact on our students, our employees and many partners," said Diane Worthington, door -Place of Education Corp. The brutal closure will leave about 20,000 students on more than 75 campuses struggling to complete their studies once the current term ends Friday. Worthington said the company, known by its acronym, ECA, will ensure that students can access their transcripts for transfer to another school. On his site, ECA promises students to provide information within two weeks on transcript requests and recommendations at transfer locations. Random planning sparked the Education Department, which was in talks with the company to create a transition plan for students, according to department spokeswoman Liz Hill . "Instead of taking the next few months to close in an orderly manner, ECA chose the easy way out," Hill said. She added that the Department of Education would work with students to transfer their credits to new institutions or to apply for a federal student loan waiver under what is known as a closed school exit. Students will not, however, be eligible for the exit if they transfer credits to obtain the same degree in another institution. For-profit college leaders also expressed disappointment at ECA's decision to close schools without notice. "We understand business decisions. But sudden shutdowns are the worst moments for our industry because they do not give students time to go through. and the staff does not have time to prepare, "said Steve Gunderson, president of the industry advocacy group Career Education Colleges and Universities. "Thoughtful planning and communication can prevent such problems." In Virginia and Maryland, ECA ran a school at Virginia College in Richmond, and Brightwood College had campuses in Towson, Beltsville, and Baltimore. Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh lamented the impact on students and called on the Department of Education to control for-profit colleges. "The closure of Brightland College's three campuses in Maryland is painful and saddening because of the detrimental effects this has on hundreds of Maryland students," Frosh said in a statement released Thursday. "The ongoing damage to for-profit college students demonstrates the need for the US Department of Education to change course and start protecting students. Despite the lowering of the Obama era regulation of for-profit colleges, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos continues to struggle with low school enrollment. The problems at ECA had been preparing for some time. Virginia College, its renowned brand, has seen a steady decline in the number of registrations. Steve McClearn, who is both director of marketing and director of studies, told Washington Post reporter Laura Meckler that a stronger job market has reduced the number of candidates. . The marketing of the school, he said, was also difficult after the Obama administration withdrew its accreditation – the Accreditation Council of independent colleges and schools – from the power to participate in the federal student assistance program. As a result, Virginia College and other for-profit schools were looking for a new accreditation body that would allow them to maintain access to federal loans and grants, a vital source of revenue. Virginia College had a hard time finding a new accredited. The school applied to the Accreditation Council for Education and Continuing Education and was rejected in a 59-page letter describing "weaknesses" between campus and head office. In September, ECA announced the closure of 16 of Virginia College's 33 campuses. A month later, the parent company disclosed in court documents that she was on the verge of insolvency, that she was to be prosecuted and that she was "in danger". she was threatened with expulsion. .

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