I never heard of this college until this was on the news.
Students at Virginia College in Birmingham this morning were among those learning nationwide that one of the country's largest for-profit college operators is closing.
Birmingham-based Education Corporation of America owns more than 75 campuses and has at least 20,000 students enrolled in courses including cosmetology, culinary arts and medical and dental assistant programs. It operates several chains, including Virginia College, Culinard, EcoTech and Brightwood College.
According to students in Birmingham, Virginia College school officials told them they learned this morning the school is closing immediately. "We did not know this was happening," officials said in a recording received anonymously by AL.com. Students and employees could be heard crying in the background.
Calls to Education Corporation of America were not immediately returned.
Closings are happening in other cities, according to reports. Students in Augusta, Ga., also learned Virginia College is closing there, according to wrdw.com
, as well as students at Brightwood's campus in Corpus Christi, Texas.
According to Inside Higher Ed,
employees Wednesday morning received an email that stated the Department of Education had added new restrictions on the schools' access to Title IV student aid. By Tuesday night, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools suspended the colleges' accreditation. Because of this, the company couldn't secure capital needed for operations.
"I recognize this will have a dramatic effect on all of you, our students, and our many other partners and regret having to share this news," Stu Reed, CEO of Education Corporation of America, wrote in the email. "It is with extreme regret that this series of recent circumstances has forced us to discontinue the operations of our schools effective with the completion of the current module or term for most students."
Employees have been told to complete current course modules over the next two weeks. Some employees will remain on campuses to help with student documentation.
Virginia College announced it was closing its locations in Mobile, Huntsville and Montgomery next year. The Birmingham location was to remain open.
Virginia College offers courses in cosmetology, health care, criminal justice and other trades.
This story will be updated.