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Another for-profit is shutting down as Department of Education closes in on others

Another for-profit is shutting down as Department of Education closes in on others

University Business

Chris Burt
September 27, 2022
The embattled for-profit Stratford University, challenged by years of accreditation issues and reported cybersecurity breaches in the past few months, will close for good at the end of the week. Stratford operates three campuses for around 2,000 students in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area as well as numerous online programs.
Stratford officials held a meeting with concerned students on Monday and have another planned for Wednesday to discuss potential transfer possibilities with other for-profits. Students, who received an email from their president last Friday informing them of the decision, have expressed concern over whether they will be able to switch institutions and have their credits honored.
Stratford currently operates five programs–business administration, nursing, computer science/IT, health science and culinary arts–for at least 800 full-time students, including some who will not be making it to completion this year. As part of the fallout, Stratford’s 150 employees also are expected to lose their jobs.
Stratford President Richard Shurtz said stringent measures recently enacted by the Department of Education led to its demise. That included the forced termination of its licensing agency–the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools–which put a stronger burden on Stratford and others to prove they are serving students well in order to receive critical Title IV funding. ED has demanded they switch accreditors, halt all programs and admissions, and be monitored closely until they find new accreditation.
For Stratford, the asks were just too great.
“We worked hard to save the school, leaving no stone unturned,” Shurtz said in an email to students last week. “We almost had an investor from Silicon Valley, but the actions of the Department made the deal impossible.”
But myriad challenges have plagued Stratford that predate the COVID-19 pandemic. Stratford previously shuttered three of its campuses in Virginia in 2019–Glen Allen, Newport News, and Virginia Beach–because it claimed they weren’t profitable enough. And in February of 2020, it was asked by ACICS to stop admitting new students and applying for new accreditation after it was reported that they attempted to open a campus in Iraq without its knowledge.
“Given the seriousness of the allegations against Stratford University, the Council took the unprecedented step of requiring an immediate halt of all new enrollments and the submission of fully executed teach out agreements,” ACICS said then to Stratford leaders.
Compounding its financial challenges, several cybersecurity groups indicated that Stratford has been hit by at least two, and possibly three, online attacks this year., which reports on attacks across businesses and education, noted the three potential hacks in detail on its site two weeks ago.
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