Saturday, 02 March, 2024

The Mass Closing of Private Universities


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Over 35 public or nonprofit colleges have either closed or announced their closures since March 2020. In this article, we will provide an overview of these notable closures and share relevant statistics regarding closed colleges.

It is important to note that the peak of campus closures occurred in the years leading up to the pandemic, largely driven by closures of private for-profit colleges. In fact, nearly 80% of the colleges that closed between 2004 and 2020 were for-profit institutions. An interesting finding reveals that slightly over half of the students affected by college closures chose not to re-enroll, accounting for 52.9% of the total. Furthermore, 7 out of 10 students impacted by college closures experienced abrupt closures, which undoubtedly had a significant impact on their education and future plans.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed economic challenges for various industries, including higher education. Many campuses were temporarily shut down to curb the spread of the virus, and some encountered difficulties in reopening after lockdowns were lifted. However, even prior to the pandemic, higher education faced financial struggles characterized by declining enrollment, rising tuition costs, and concerns surrounding the value of a degree.

When a college closes, it profoundly affects the likelihood of students to re-enroll in a program, particularly if the closure occurs abruptly, leaving students in a state of uncertainty. The following section presents a list of major college closures since the onset of the pandemic. Additionally, we will explore trends in college closures over the past decade and delve into the consequences that students face when their colleges shut down.

List of Notable College Closures and Mergers Since March 2020

We have compiled a list of significant closures and mergers of colleges that have taken place or been announced since March 15, 2020. The list includes the following:

  1. Closure: Salus University, Pennsylvania (Summer 2024)
    • School Type: Private nonprofit
    • Enrollment: 1,100
    • Primary Reason: Mutual Benefit; merging with Drexel University
  2. Closure: St. John’s University, Staten Island, New York (Spring 2024)
    • School Type: Private nonprofit
    • Enrollment: 861
    • Primary Reason: Enrollment
  3. Closure: St. Augustine College, Illinois (Spring 2024)
    • School Type: Private nonprofit
    • Enrollment: 1,163
    • Primary Reason: Mutual Benefit; merging with Lewis University
  4. Closure: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indiana (Spring 2024)
    • School Type: Public nonprofit
    • Enrollment: 27,690
    • Primary Reason: Mutual Benefit; separating into different institutions
  5. Closure: Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, Pennsylvania (January 2024)
    • School Type: Private nonprofit
    • Enrollment: 1,816
    • Primary Reason: Mutual Benefit; merging with Saint Joseph’s University

Please note that while for-profit colleges tend to have higher closure rates, our focus in this list primarily revolves around public and nonprofit colleges. However, we have included larger for-profit schools that have sparked notable controversy.

In conclusion, the closures of public and nonprofit colleges have been on the rise since March 2020, with over 35 institutions ceasing operations or announcing their closures. These closures not only disrupt the education of current students but also impact the likelihood of future enrollment. It is crucial to understand the trends and consequences surrounding college closures in order to navigate the evolving landscape of higher education effectively.

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