AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Across the country, students of the one of the nation’s largest for-profit colleges, Virginia College, were surprised to hear that classes were cancelled. Staff discovered they were out of a job.
There were students, staff,and alumni at the campus on Wylds Road Wednesday night. Two words can be used to describe the atmosphere over there: shock and disbelief. Alicia Johnson, who was an employee at the school, said, “It’s hurtful. What am I going to do about my bills? I have kids. I mean, I didn’t think this was going to happen.” Students and alumni echoed Johnson’s feelings. Charlton Dunbar, a student at the school with one class left before graduation, said, “I’m sad about it closing. I didn’t know anything. I’m just sad. I’m hurt.”
Dunbar said he will try to continue his education at Aiken Technical College. He said, “I’m not giving up, I’m coming back.” Lawrence Freeman, 2017 graduate of the school, said, “My heart goes out to my fellow students, my Virginianites.” Both Freeman and Dunbar said Virginia College changed their lives. They said it is devastating to hear that it is closed.
The Birmingham-based Education Corporation of America has around 20,000 students enrolled in disciplines like cosmetology, culinary arts, medical and dental assistant programs in 75 campuses across the U.S. The ECA also owns Brightwood College, which is also closing its doors.
The ECA closed a third of its campuses for both chains earlier this year as a part of a court-approved receivership, Inside for Higher Education reports. However, the company fell behind on payments to creditors and rent on buildings.
Tuesday evening, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools suspended the college’s accreditation. Some employees will remain on campuses to help students get their transcripts and other documents in order.
“We are proud of our thousands of graduates who have entered the work force with skills they acquired at our schools along with our faculty and staff who have shown unwavering support for our students. This is not the outcome that we envisioned and is one that we recognize will have a dramatic effect on our students, employees and many partners,” Dianne Worthington, a spokeswoman for the company said in a written statement to Higher Education.
While the future is uncertain for many right now, we have heard from the Dean of Admissions over at the Georgia Institute of Cosmetology. She said that they will take on some displaced students or staff members who are effected by the closure.