Posted May 27, 2015
This past November, the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities moved three veterinary technology programs to terminal accreditation, which applies to programs that are voluntarily discontinuing. Those programs were Anthem College in Phoenix; Baker College of Port Huron in Port Huron, Michigan; and Brown Mackie College in Michigan City, Indiana. Two of the three, Anthem and Brown Mackie, were located at for-profit institutions with two or more campuses. The closures give a glimpse into the problem—namely, declining enrollment—some for-profit companies are now facing, largely as a result of the challenging federal regulatory environment. In addition, student numbers that had also increased at many public community colleges when the economic downturn brought a flood of enrollees who were looking for work or a career shift have now decreased at public colleges as well as for-profit institutions.
Anthem College, which received CVTEA accreditation in 2008, closed its doors this past August after acquisition of its parent company, Anthem Education, was not approved by the Department of Education, and Anthem Education filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy that same month, according to news reports. Anthem had also run a veterinary technology program in Kansas City, Missouri, that closed this past fall. In all, Anthem had 41 campuses prior to declaring bankruptcy, according to its bankruptcy petition.
An investigation by a U.S. Senate committee into the for-profit college industry found that Anthem’s enrollment had declined substantially in recent years, falling from 21,696 students in 2006 to 12,792 students in 2010. The Senate report described the company’s aggressive recruiting tactics as among “the most troubling” behaviors the investigation of 30 for-profits had revealed. The report also stated, “The company’s high rates of student loan default call into question whether Anthem students are receiving an education that affords them the ability to repay the debt incurred.”
Meanwhile, Brown Mackie College, which still runs 12 veterinary technology programs across the U.S., announced earlier last year that it was closing the Michigan City, Indiana, location. Among other things, at that location, the three-year pass rate for first-time takers of the Veterinary Technician National Examination during the July 1 to June 30 reporting year (2011-2014) was only 33.33 percent. The Michigan City location had received initial CVTEA accreditation in 2009.
Brown Mackie College campuses represent 13 percent of enrollments for its parent corporation, Education Management Corp., which also owns the Art Institutes, Argosy University, and South University. According to EDMC’s latest annual report, enrollment at the 28 Brown Mackie Colleges declined by 1,510 students in fiscal year 2014, and enrollment overall at EDMC’s 110 schools was down 7.3 percent to 118,090.
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice and four states (California, Illinois, Indiana, and Florida) sued EDMC over lleged recruiting violations. This January, the company announced 225 faculty and staff cuts at its Art Institutes, on top of hundreds of other jobs eliminated throughout the company in 2014.