Thread regarding Education Management Corporation layoffs

Pittsburgh Post Gazette Article - AIP EDMC 10/1/17

Amid upheaval, Art Institute students try to maintain focus

SEE ART, PAGE B-8

By Daniel Moore Pittsburgh Post-Gazette For Azsa Coleman, the college search was easy. Hoping to break into the highly competitive field of animation, she had only one school in mind: the Art Institute of Ohio in Cincinnati. It was actually getting into an Art Institute classroom that turned out to be the challenge. Just as the Yellow Springs, Ohio, native was offered a $44,000 scholarship, the Cincinnati school closed — along with 14 other Art Institutes nationwide that stopped accepting new students in 2015. After she moved on to the next closest Art Institute, in Indianapolis, that school informed her in August it planned to phase out the animation program. Ms. Coleman starts classes this week at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, which has agreed to honor her scholarship and has assured her that it has no plans of closing. Her struggle is just one indication of the transition and uncertainty rippling through schools owned by Pittsburghbased Education Management Corp. After years of financial trouble, the beleaguered forprofit education company announced in March plans to sell 31 Art Institutes, as well as the Georgia-based South University and California-based Argosy University school systems. The $60 million deal, which got an initial blessing from regulators last month, would send roughly 60,000 students and 15,000 employees to the Dream

ART, FROM B-3

BACHELOR’S DEGREE

Media arts and animation

Graphic design

Visual effects & motion graphics Digital filmmaking & video production Culinary management

Hotel and restaurant management

Fashion design Fashion marketing and management Game art and design

Interior design

Digital photography

Web design and interactive media

ASSOCIATE DEGREE Digital filmmaking and video production Baking and pastry

Culinary arts

Graphic design (2-year)

Web design and interactive media (2-year)

Bachelor’s degree

Graphic design Culinary management Hotel and restaurant management Fashion marketing and management Game art and design Interior design Digital photography

Baking and pastry Culinary arts Graphic design (2-year) Digital photography

78%

81%

93% 86%

76%

76%

88% 83% 82% 81%

72% 76%

87% 89%

76% 81%

79%

9%

30% 29%

19% 16% 16% 12%

29%

18% 24% 12% 12% 12%

25%

8%

58%

27% 24%

12%

8%

Median debt of graduate

According to figures EDMC provides prospective students, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh's graduates struggle to finish programs on time and likely have tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

Art Institute of Pittsburgh: in debt and behind schedule

PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS BORROWING MONEY, GRADUATING ON TIME

$29,709 $30,723 $30,723 $34,847 $29,015 $31,267 $35,201

$27,794 $22,390 $17,069 $23,350

Percentage students borrowing money Percentage of students graduating on time

COST OF A BACHELOR’S DEGREE

$87,660 Tuition and costs

Books and supplies $3,351

$47,250 Off-campus room and board

$55,275 On-campus room and board

STUDENT DEBT BACHELOR’S DEGREE

ASSOCIATE DEGREE

Source: Art Institute of Pittsburgh James Hilston/Post-Gazette

80%

15%

Digital photography (2-year)

Center Foundation, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit affiliated with a Pentecostal church. Consumer groups and critics of for-profit education have opposed the deal, arguing the nonprofit has no experience in higher education and is tapping longtime for-profit education investors to lead the institutions. Meanwhile, the Art Institutes are projecting an image of stability to students, parents and faculty — promising the sale won’t touch academics. The school was founded nearly a century ago with a curriculum of art and illustration — later adding graphic design, culinary arts, video and photography fields — that prepared people for creative careers. The Art Institute was nearly 50 years old when EDMC bought it in 1969 and turned the concept into a chain. Its flagship campus in Pittsburgh grew as the company opened Art Institute schools in dozens of other cities. More recently, the Art Institute’s reputation, along with that of the broader forprofit education industry, has suffered. Federal officials accused EDMC of putting profit over the outcomes of its graduates, blaming such schools for ballooning student debt and underemployment. In 2015, EDMC settled a lawsuit with the Justice Department and dozens of attorneys general for $100 million. It admitted no wrongdoing. Last fall, as enrollment dropped to 654 students, EDMC announced the Art Institute of Pittsburgh would downsize for the first time. The school left the Boulevard of the Allies, Downtown, and now occupies about 43,000 square feet in the Penn Liberty Plaza II building in the Strip District. Creation Rex, the dinosaur mascot that greeted visitors outside the Downtown location, sits inside a lobby. ‘Where I want to be’ EDMC has declined to answer questions about the Dream Center sale, pending review by regulators and accreditors. The company also would not comment for this article or allow a reporter to visit the school. Meanwhile, Art Institute students have been trying to focus on their craft. As the EDMC name was removed from the K&L Gates Center Downtown, they continued to draw, prepare for public portfolio shows and fret about final projects. On a recent warm day, James Lynch sat near the front steps and recalled the school catching his eye while he was a student at DeVry University, whose Pittsburgh campus closed in 2015. He fell in love with the Art Institute because of its singular focus on art and its

large Downtown building. “You have Duquesne, you have Pitt, you have Carnegie Mellon, all those prestigious schools, and they have nice curriculums and stuff like that — but it’s not the Art Institute,” said Mr. Lynch, who studies web design and interactive media. “I saw this school and said, ‘Yo, this is where I want to be.’ ” Since the relocation, Mr. Lynch described a downsizing that has whittled down his class sizes and required some professors to teach new subjects. It’s unfortunate, he said, “because I feel like the school should be taken care of more. We don’t have the necessary tools we need.” Still, he sees a career path. He recently changed his major to gain skills in mobile phone apps and online animation. Animation has the lowest rate of on-time graduation, at 9 percent, among all bachelor’s programs at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, according to statistics EDMC is required to provide prospective students. The median annual income for the school’s animation graduates is $19,438. On average, across 18 bachelor’s and associate degree programs at the school, about 21 percent of students graduate on time.

They leave with an average of $27,465 in debt. For Ms. Coleman and others, the key is the promise of a career. Admissions officials and professors who met them at the open house in September did not seem to sugarcoat the reality. “They were telling me stories about how they could have a full class and then by the end of it, there would be one student left because they all leave or they can’t make it or they’re not working hard enough or they can’t pay loans,” said Ms. Coleman, who is studying media arts and animation. She and her mother, Autumn, met with an animation instructor. “She’s real ... which I liked,” Autumn Coleman said. “Because she wasn’t trying to sell it to everyone, like, ‘Oh, you’ll find a job right when you get out of here.’ ” Though it left Azsa Coleman feeling somewhat overwhelmed, it also gave her a certain degree of control. It’s a matter of determination and skill, she said. “I was so set on going to an Art Institute,” Ms. Coleman said. “I was, like, I have to go to one.”

Daniel Moore: [email protected], .

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All this crap could be boiled down to Azsa Coleman is brain dead.

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Pointless to read. We already know all of this.

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