October 19, 2022
Many college students who were on track to graduate from Stratford University are realizing they will need to redo some of their studies or end them entirely following the recent closure of the for-profit institution.
Mushiya Tshibaka, a former nursing student and mother of three, said she was only five classes shy of graduation when she got the news. Now, with few options to transfer most of her credits, she may have to start over.
“I don’t even know what to do,” said Tshibaka. “I’m just stuck.”
Tshibaka, who is working as a certified nursing assistant and was studying to become a rheumatology nurse practitioner, said she had been looking forward to a promotion after her graduation, but now “I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.”
Stratford, which has been in operation since its founding as American Transportation Institute in 1976, offered degrees in business, information technology, culinary arts, hospitality, health sciences and nursing before it closed. It was briefly a member of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association and National Junior College Athletic Association, fielding teams for baseball, softball, women’s soccer and men’s basketball.
Then, on Sept. 23, the university announced it would close.
Earlier that week, the federal government had formally terminated its recognition of the school’s accrediting agency, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, after it “failed to demonstrate it could effectively evaluate, monitor and enforce quality standards for schools.”
In a letter to students announcing the closure, Stratford President and CEO Richard Shurtz said conditions imposed on the school by the U.S. Department of Education, including a prohibition on new enrollments, made it “impossible to continue in operation.”
But the ACICS decision wasn’t the only trouble Stratford has faced in recent years. The university had received a string of compliance warnings from its accreditor and become ensnared in several lawsuits, including one over whether a branch campus in Iraq was accredited.
However, some students said they missed the problems or were aware and decided to enroll anyway due to the school’s convenience.