Art Institute of Indianapolis halts new enrollment

The Art Institute of Indianapolis will stop accepting new students, its owner told IBJ on Monday.

But a statement from the not-for-profit school says current students should continue to attend classes as scheduled.

“This decision is for new students only and we will redirect prospective students to our online offerings or one of our other campuses,” according to a statement provided by Dream Center Education Holdings, which bought The Art Institutes system in two phases last fall and in January.

A spokeswoman did not immediately answer questions about whether existing students will be able to fully complete their degrees.

The organization's statement comes just days after Dream Center told higher education officials in North Carolina that it would close The Art Institutes campuses in two cities there, as well as a high school it operated.

Late Monday, an official from the Commission for Higher Education said it had received a notice from Dream Center announcing it would stop taking new enrollments at its Indianapolis campus.

The Art Institute of Indianapolis, 3500 DePauw Blvd., at the Pyramids, had a fall 2017 enrollment of 500 students, according to IBJ research, and offers programs in design, film, fashion and culinary arts.

The local art institute opened in 2006 with 64 students and 25 employees. It grew to 900 students and 150 staff and faculty members by 2009, but enrollment has been shrinking in recent years.

Pittsburgh-based Dream Center is an organization specifically created to acquire the schools by the Dream Center Foundation, a religious organization based in Los Angeles.

The organization acquired the art institutes and several other education brands in 2017 from beleaguered for-profit educator Education Management Corp.

In its statement on Monday, Dream Center said that since then, “We have been undergoing an ongoing process of evaluating the viability of certain campus-based programs relative to student needs and preferences in order to best support our students, both present and future.

“As a result of that examination, we have made the decision to cease new enrollments for a number of schools within The Art Institutes, Argosy University, and South University systems.”

The Arts Institutes have also been under fire for possibly misleading students about the accreditation status of several campuses. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported June 19 that the Higher Learning Commission, a Chicago-based accreditation agency, had temporarily removed accreditation from four campuses, including two in the Chicago area. But the schools, the paper reported, never told their students.

The Indianapolis campus was not affected.

But Dream addressed accreditation issues in its statement to IBJ: “While we actively work with our accreditors and regulators to assess the viability of our current offerings at these locations, DCEH remains steadfast in our mission to provide students with accessible, affordable, relevant, and purposeful education aligned with market demands.”

Education Management also operates Brown Mackie College, which was scheduled to close its Indianapolis campus in Circle Centre mall in June.

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