Last Friday, the Art Institute announced the abrupt closures of its Florida, Texas, and Virginia locations. Students and faculty at the Art Institute of Miami were caught off guard by the devastating news.
Students were informed of the closure by email last Friday. By Monday, the Miami International University of Art and Design campus was empty, other than students quickly collecting their belongings. The Art Institute reportedly could not engage with other colleges and universities regarding transferring their students. Former students are currently scrambling to find ways to continue their education. They have until Saturday, September 30 to determine their academic future and vacate the campus. The email sent to students reportedly advised them not to expect further communication from the school.
Fashion design student Gabriel Marrero told NBC6 that he found out about the school closing through a text chat with friends. “I checked the student portal, and they had sent a communication to the students through there, but it was super out of nowhere,” Marrero said. “We even had our last day on Wednesday last week, and nobody told us anything — and I’m pretty sure that not even the teachers knew.” Anne Perry, a teacher at the Art Insitute of Dallas, confirmed to the New York Times that faculty were just as surprised by the news as students.
The Art Institute’s website states that the closure of the entire Art Institute system of schools will be effective on September 30, 2023. This includes the Miami International University of Art & Design, the Art Institute of Atlanta, the Art Institute of Austin, the Art Institute of Dallas, the Art Institute of Houston, the Art Institute of San Antonio, the Art Institute of Tampa, and the Art Institute of Virginia Beach. Their website links various resources for students, like transcript requests, diplomas for download, and information about student loans. According to the US Department of Education, the shutdown will leave approximately 1,700 students in the lurch.
The Art Institute system of schools has faced several challenges over the last decade that ultimately led to its closure. The network of schools was originally founded in 1921, starting with the Art Institute of Pennsylvania. A large corporation acquired the school in 1970 and expanded it to include culinary arts, fashion design, audio production, and video game design courses. However, in 2015, the schools landed in hot water and settled claims of illegal recruitment with the Justice Department. Following the $95 million settlement, the school lost accreditation. Problems continued when faith-based non-profit Dream Center Education Holdings acquired the schools in 2017. A class-action lawsuit followed that claimed four school locations were misleading students into believing the institution was still accredited, and nearly twenty locations were closed in 2018.
The fallout of the sudden closure of the Art Institute’s network of schools leaves students and faculty lost as to what comes next. The school has said it will help students transfer their credits and assist with student loan repercussions.