The Art Institutes, a network of private art colleges with 31 campuses around the United States, is planning to close over half of them in the coming months. In all, 18 of the campuses listed on the Art Institutes website are no longer enrolling new students.
The schools have been plagued by accreditation problems, lawsuits, accusations of mistreatment and deception, falling enrollment, and in 2015 were placed on a federal watch list for poor financial management. Shortly thereafter, the schools’ owner, Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corporation, announced the closure of 15 campuses. Last year, EDMC sold the 31 remaining Art Institute campuses to Dream Center Education Holdings, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit. (EDMC filed for bankruptcy last month.)
“Since acquiring these schools in late 2017, we have been undergoing an ongoing process of evaluating the viability of certain campus-based programs relative to student needs and preferences in order to best support our students, both present and future,” a DCEH statement sent to Artsy explained. “As a result of that examination, we have made the decision to discontinue campus-based programs for a number of schools within The Art Institutes, Argosy University, and South University systems.”
While the closure of 18 campuses represents an enormous loss of jobs and a blow to thousands of students (current enrollment across the whole system totals 22,280), the faculty of at least one of the schools, in Portland, Oregon, is trying to buy its local Art Institute and keep it open.