BOSTON – Expressing serious concerns about the New England Institute of Art’s mistreatment of students as it winds down its operations in Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey has asked the state’s Board of Higher Education to hold a hearing to discuss the performance of the school’s current teach-out plan.
In a letter sent to the Board on Thursday, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has also asked that it prohibit NEIA from its proposed plan to transfer its teach-out obligations to an organization in New Delhi until the school commits to needed financial relief for current and former students.
“Students who invested their time and hard-earned money into this school deserve the education they were promised by NEIA, not handed over to an unlicensed foreign corporation with no history of teaching art students in the United States,” Healey said. “We urge NEIA to use this opportunity to demonstrate greater responsibility in serving the best interest of its students.”
Last year, the Institute announced a multi-year plan to wind down operations while maintaining the same campus learning environment, and began teaching out existing students while stopping new enrollments. But according to students involved in the “teach-out” process, there has been a significant reduction in services and course offerings. Students also reported that they were shifted to online coursework instead of having the hands-on classroom experience with instructors that was promised.
NEIA’s financial aid, student tutoring, career services, and overall school maintenance have also been reduced during the teach-out, including limited access to on-campus studios and other artist tools.
The AG’s Office has had previous concerns about NEIA’s financial capacity to remain open during its teach-out of existing students. In one year, the stock value of NEIA’s parent company dropped by over 90 percent.
The company has de-listed from the NASDAQ and many of NEIA’s sister Art Institute campuses across the country are in the process of closing, while NEIA remains on the U.S. Department of Education’s Heightened Cash Monitoring List.
The Institute is now looking to abandon its current teach-out plan and outsource it to an unlicensed, New Delhi-based entity known as the Ritnand Balved Education Foundation, which will be paid to take over NEIA’s teaching responsibilities.
The AG’s Office has asked that Ritnand be required to demonstrate its experience in art education and its track record in placing students in jobs in field. If a proper education for students cannot be ensured, AG Healey has asked that NEIA be shut down at the end of the current quarter. Closing the school early will help students find alternative programs of study or, if they wish to pursue a different career path, with the option of applying for a discharge of federal student loan debt.
Current and former students of the New England Institute of Art who have concerns regarding NEIA’s conduct or their experiences at the school should call the Attorney General’s Hotline at 1-888-830-6277.