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The Art Institutes To Shutter All 8 Remaining Campuses This Month


The Art Institutes will close its private for-profit system of art schools and permanently close all of its campuses at the end of this month, the system announced late last week. 

The Art Institute of Houston, one of eight schools to be shuttered at the end of the month.

The closure of the 103-year-old career college chain is effective Saturday, according to an announcement. The campuses are in Miami, Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Tampa, Florida, and Virginia Beach, Virginia.

“We encourage you to complete your education at another school,” the website says.

In an email to students, the system blamed the closure on a mix of external and internal factors.

“Most notably, the colleges, which already were dealing with the legacy challenges that arose under prior ownership, were unable to absorb the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on schools teaching hands-on and equipment-intensive programs such as culinary arts and fashion design,” the email to students said, per KHOU 11.

The Education Principle Foundation was the latest owner of the school system, which has changed hands twice within the past decade. The Education Principle Foundation also owned South University in Savannah, Georgia, which announced its separation from the foundation in August. 

In early 2013, The Art Institutes' then-parent company, Education Management Corp., saw its enrollment fall by 16.3% in two years. Education Management Corp. closed 15 Art Institutes two years later, Higher Ed Dive reported.

Dream Center Foundation acquired the college assets of Education Management Corp. in 2017, creating Dream Center Education Holdings to manage them, according to Higher Ed Dive. By late 2018, Dream Center Education Holdings was facing insolvency and looking to get rid of most of its higher education assets, Higher Ed Dive reported.

Education Principle Foundation, a nonprofit previously known as the Colbeck Foundation, acquired the eight remaining Art Institutes campuses in 2019

The system is working with partners to facilitate student transfers so that students can use earned academic credits toward the completion of a program of study at another institution, according to the announcement.

The announcement encourages students interested in completing their education to “visit for a list of partner institutions willing and able to assist students,” but it doesn't provide a list or link to visit.

“We’re kind of dumbfounded,” The Art Institute of Houston student Victor Gaytan told KHOU.

The Houston campus was in a five-story Class-A office building at 4140 Southwest Freeway. 

Gaytan was set to graduate with an associate’s degree in graphic design in December, he told the outlet, adding that he is unsure of his options or whether he wasted his time or money. 

“Some of us cried, including myself,” Gaytan said. “We are still processing.”