The Zenith Education Group, Inc.‘s closing of Laramie’s WyoTech, an automotive technical, mechanical, and body repair training school, will affect hundreds of students and faculty who were associated with the nonprofit organization. The WyoTech closing similarly halts a number of nonprofit college options for students who were seeking more vocational educations to better adapt to the modern workforce. Alongside WyoTech, Zenith is also instituting an Altierus Career College closing, where all but three of the campuses will be shuttered; the remaining three are in Florida, Georgia, and Texas.
In total, the Zenith Education Group closings will impact 21 campuses and affect around 5,400 students.
These losses come on the back of mass closures earlier in the year for the nonprofit education group which caused hundreds of Zenith job cuts and altered many students’ paths towards receiving their degree. The result is that both WyoTech and Altierus campuses’ “teach out” programs have been instituted in order to ensure that the students currently enrolled will still be able to complete their education, even if their learning won’t take place on campus.
Zenith Education Closing WyoTech and Altierus Campuses
The Zenith shutdown means that no new students may enroll in the program, while those already learning with the institution will have to readjust to a teach out program.
“Over the past few years, it has become evident to us that many of our campuses are located in areas that are geographically inconvenient for under-served students or not built to accommodate the programs that we want and need to offer,” Zenith said in a statement. “We intend to use those learnings in a more focused three-campus approach to enhance initiatives, including employer partnerships and student support services, that have demonstrated success in improving academic and job placement outcomes for students.”
“We will work with each and every student to help him/her achieve his/her educational goals, just as we did when we acquired the campuses in 2015,” it added. “No student was left behind then, and we will ensure each has the opportunity for success now.”
Zenith Education Group’s History of Corinthian Colleges Closures
The WyoTech closing and the Altierus Career College closing are the latest difficulties to hit the Zenith Education Group. In fact, the Zenith Education Group closings did not start with WyoTech and Altierus, however. The organization purchased the for-profit Corinthian Colleges, but was later forced to consolidate many of the campuses it bought, engaging in a similar round of closures earlier in the year.
The resulting closures meant that 500 employees were shed due to restructuring. This came after the company had already more than halved its workforce after reporting a loss of $100.0 million in 2016. The loss also led to a number of Zenith Education Group closings in 2015 and 2016.
The Corinthian Colleges closings were undertaken as the company sold 53 of its Everest and WyoTech campuses and online programs to Zenith in February 2016.
“Since acquiring heavily distressed schools about 13 months ago, Zenith Education Group has taken significant steps to improve outcomes for its student population. On March 24, it announced additional efforts designed to enhance the student experience and also further reinforce the stability of its schools,” Dave Hawn, president and CEO of Zenith parent company ECMC Group, Inc., said in a written statement. “After conducting a thorough review of student populations, program completion and job-placement rates, Zenith is instituting organizational changes that both strengthen and flatten the leadership structure and create a more development-focused organization, including establishing directors of student success at each campus.”
Following the sale of Corinthian, the U.S. Department of Education and Zenith were both criticized, as the company was fined $30.0 million for misrepresentation of graduate placement data in 2015. The Associated Press published an investigation of Zenith, accusing the organization of large-scale telemarketing recruitment tactics and other unsavory practices while not changing its curriculum or shedding itself of bad-actor Corinthian officials.
Hawn said the AP story was “unbalanced,” arguing in a rebuke of the report that the chain has fundamentally changed its business model and has not retained a single executive officer from Corinthian.
Corinthian College closings also took place in 2015, when the company was fined by Department of Education.
“Neither our board of directors, our management, our faculty, nor our students believe these schools deserved to be forced to close,” Corinthian said in a statement at the time of the closures.
“Laramie’s WyoTech campus to close,” Wyoming Business Report, November 9, 2017.
“More Cuts for Zenith,” Inside Higher Ed, March 28, 2017.
“WyoTech campus in Laramie will close,” KGWN, November 8, 2017.
“Corinthian Colleges to shut down remaining campuses, including Heald College in Fresno,” KFSN, April 25, 2015.