The Art Institute of Tucson is winding down operations and will close within a few years, a spokesman for its troubled parent firm said Thursday.
The for-profit school stopped enrolling new students this week and will shut down once its 300 or so students finish their studies, said Bob Greenlee, a spokesman for Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corp.
The cost-cutting decision was “made for a variety of reasons including changing student and area demand,” Greenlee said.
The school at 5099 E. Grant Road has been in business since 2002, according to the Southern Arizona Better Business Bureau website. Its most popular programs are visual and performing arts and personal and culinary services.
The local closure is the latest of many for the Art Institutes chain. Fifteen other sites nationwide were slated for closure less than a year ago.
The Art Institute of Tucson is a sister school to Brown Mackie College in Tucson, which is owned by the same parent firm and is under scrutiny by its accreditor and by Arizona’s attorney general.
Education Management Corp. agreed in November to pay more than $95 million to settle state and federal claims that the company’s schools used high-pressure recruiting tactics to lure students. The firm denied wrongdoing.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich also is seeking separate compensation for local Brown Mackie nursing students who were trained so poorly they posed a potential hazard to the public, the state nursing board found last year.
Brown Mackie Tucson’s accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, still is weighing whether to impose sanctions over the problems that led to the nursing board action, spokesman Anthony Bieda said.
Both Brown Mackie Tucson and the Art Institute of Tucson are below average nationally in areas such as graduation rates (30 to 35 percent) annual income of former students ($25,200) and the number of students (30 percent) who repay their federal student loans, a U.S. Education Department’s website says.
Both schools charge higher than average tuition. Brown Mackie Tucson’s annual cost of attendance is $20,000 and the art institute’s is $25,000 while the national average is about $16,800, the federal website says.
Education Management Corp.’s finances have been in decline for years with total losses of $2.34 billion between 2012 and 2014.
Its stock, worth $15 a share in 2013, now trades over the counter for around a nickel a share.