A quick dive:
- The Pittsburgh Career Institute, a for-profit institution, planned to close Wednesday, blaming it primarily on the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to revoke recognition of its accreditor earlier this year.
- – said the president of the institute it could not survive the restrictions imposed by the Department of Education on colleges accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools — ACICS — including not accepting new students.
- Some students at the institute were able to complete their programs before it closed, while others may transfer to other local institutions, the report said. As of fall 2021, the institute had nearly 300 students enrolled, according to the most recent federal data.
The Career Institute of Pittsburgh is another institutional casualty in the drama surrounding ACICS, a long-troubled accreditor that serves mostly nonprofits.
In August, the Department of Education pulled federal recognition of ACICS, which means it can no longer accredit colleges. Federally recognized accreditors are designed to hold colleges to financial and academic standards and serve as guardians of their Title IV federal aid.
When an institution loses its accreditation, it also loses access to federal student aid, which most colleges cannot survive without.
Accreditors themselves are held to certain standards that the Department of Education says ACICS has not met for years. After the department ended ACICS recognition earlier this year, it gave institutions under the accreditor 18 months to find a new one.
During these 18 months, ACICS-accredited colleges cannot enroll new students who would not be able to complete their programs within that time.
The department’s cuts spelled the end of the Pittsburgh Career Institute, its president, Patti Jakshe, said in a statement.
The institute “worked tirelessly trying to secure new facilities that would allow the school to continue operating” until the restrictions were lifted — without success, Jakshe said.
The president did not specify what these new opportunities are.
The Pittsburgh Career Institute has scheduled its last day of classes for Wednesday, but Jaksche said some officials will remain on campus for the rest of the year to assist students in internships and clinical programs, and help others with transfers and their transcripts.
The news suggests the sudden closure shocked students when the institute announced it earlier this month, giving them just weeks to come up with alternative plans. It offered six programs, including surgical and veterinary technology, according to its website.
The institute planned to continue offering financial aid and academic support during the period of its closure, Jaksche said. He also planned to continue the graduate career services department indefinitely.
The report does not mention assistance to Yakshe employees.
“We understand that news of this decision will be met with some level of uncertainty, and we aim to keep you updated on our progress through continuous communication,” Jaksche said.
The institute is not the only ACICS-accredited college to attribute its closure to the Department of Education’s decision.
Stratford University, a for-profit institution with campuses in Virginia and Maryland, announced at the end of September it will close at the end of this month. At the time, Stratford’s president accused the Department of Education of overstepping its authority by imposing restrictions on ACICS colleges.
Political experts, however, expressed skepticism about the restrictions was the cause of Stratford’s demise, noting that ACICS had run into problems years earlier.
The Obama administration first tried to get ACICS recognized in 2016, citing non-compliance issues similar to those addressed this year. But the accreditor successfully sued the Department of Education, which eventually led to Betsy DeVos, the former secretary of education under President Donald Trump, reinstating him in 2018.
Problems with ACICS persisted in the years that followed, although DeVos, seen as more pro-for-profit than her predecessor, did not revoke its recognition.
ACICS has been on the decline for years. It once accredited more than 230 institutions, but by the time the Department for Education ended recognition in August, that number had dwindled significantly.
As of early September, it accredited 44 institutions with 67 campuses, two-thirds of which participate in the Title IV financial aid program. At that time ACICS said that he would stop working until March 2024.
The Pittsburgh Career Institute was first founded as the Western School of Health and Business Careers in October 1980. according to its website. A couple of years later, it was accredited by the Bureau of Accreditation of Schools of Public Health.
It was eventually acquired by what was then known as Career Education Corp criticized for many years to manage substandard commercial establishments. That owner changed the institution’s name from Western to the Sanford-Brown Institute, a now-defunct line of for-profit schools, in 2008.
In 2014, before the mass closing of Sanford-Brown, another company, New Opportunity Calling LLC, purchased what became the Pittsburgh Career Institute.