Coding academy Iron Yard to close all locations

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The Iron Yard plans to cease operations at all locations, including its Indianapolis campus, at the end of the summer, the for-profit coding school announced on its website Thursday.

The Greenville, South Carolina-based company has schools in 15 cities, down from a peak of 20.

It opened its Indianapolis office at 451 E. Market St. in March 2015. A spokeswoman said 25 students are enrolled in the current summer cohort in Indianapolis. The campus has six staff members and graduated 69 students prior to the current session.

“Over the last four years, The Iron Yard has led the code school industry in preparing students for careers as software developers,” the 4-year-old company said on its website. “The industry as a whole is still young and its leaders face the challenge of a nascent market, as well as the demands facing all institutions in the higher education marketplace.

"In considering the current environment, the board of The Iron Yard has made the difficult decision to cease operations at all campuses after teaching out remaining summer cohorts. We will finish out summer classes completely, including career support."

The Iron Yard offered one-time web development courses costing $900 and 12-week full-time "boot camps" costing $13,900 that were designed to turn students into "junior web developers."

The company said more than 3,000 students have taken Iron Yard courses since its founding.

Iron Yard's closure leaves the Fishers-based Eleven Fifty Academy as the only coding school in the Indianapolis area. Eleven Fifty, which is not-for-profit, started operations in 2014.

Eleven Fifty CEO John Qualls said he was disheartened by the closure announcement because he thinks there's a need for such institutions by employers and those interested in tech careers.

However, he said he was not surprised, given the recent closures of other for-profit coding schools, including California-based Dev Bootcamp, which announced this month that it would shut down in December.  Dev, one of the earliest coding schools, was founded in San Francisco in 2012 and was acquired by for-profit educator Kaplan in 2014.

Qualls said it’s tough to break even running a coding school. And he figures the private equity and education companies that have invested in for-profit coding academies in recent years weren't satisfied with the financial results.

In 2015, Apollo Education Group, which owns University of Phoenix, made an undisclosed strategic investment in Iron Yard.

"It's a tough business, and it doesn't generate a lot of margins," Qualls said. He added that his school charges $13,500 per student, but the cost to the academy is closer to $16,000. The school is able to operate with help from grants and donations.

He said coding schools should not be "about generating margins, but about generating outcomes."

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