Monday, September 17, 2018
Storm clouds for for-profit schools. From Inside Higher Ed:
Education Corporation of America, a for-profit higher education provider with locations across the country, plans to close 26 campuses -- a third of its current total -- by early 2020. The closures would affect almost every chain of colleges operated by ECA, including Brightwood Career Institute, Brightwood College, Ecotech Institute, Golf Academy of America and Virginia College. The company said it is ending enrollment of new students at those campuses immediately because of insufficient demand.
The closures come just a few years after ECA acquired 38 campuses owned by Kaplan College, another for-profit operator. They’re the latest evidence of restructuring in a sector rocked by regulatory crackdowns, negative publicity and falling enrollment as the economy continues to improve.
Brightwood College: Arlington and Beaumont, Tex.; Bakersfield, Fresno, Palm Springs and Sacramento, Calif.; Dayton, Ohio
Brightwood Career Institute: Pittsburgh
Ecotech Institute: Aurora, Colo.
Golf Academy of America: Phoenix
Virginia College: Austin, Tex.; Baton Rouge and Shreveport, La.; Biloxi and Jackson, Miss.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Columbus and Macon, Ga.; Fort Pierce and Pensacola, Fla.; Tulsa, Okla.; and Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery, Ala.
“The decision to discontinue enrollment and teach-out our programs was made because of insufficient enrollment demand for our programs in these markets,” said Diane Worthington, a spokeswoman for ECA.
Kevin Kinser, a professor of education at Pennsylvania State University who studies the for-profit sector, said the closures are further evidence that an expansive physical presence is not viable in the current higher ed environment.
“I’m sure the economy and negative publicity have something to do with it, but there are also the changes made to for-profit recruitment practices in response to significant critiques and the uncertain policy environment,” he said. “For-profits are being more careful now in how they recruit and who they recruit, and changed programs to ensure that the cost to students reflects the potential labor market outcomes.”
Douglas Webber, an associate professor of economics at Temple University, said changes in the economy are likely driving enrollment patterns more than any other factor. He noted that many nonprofit colleges have also seen recent declines in enrollment, and an uptick in closures of small private nonprofits could be in store.
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