NEWS
October 3, 2022

Stratford University To Shut Down, 300 Nursing Students Need Answers

Stratford University To Shut Down, 300 Nursing Students Need Answers

Stratford University in Alexandria, VA, announced its sudden closure of three campuses this week. This announcement has left over 300 nursing students wondering what they will do next. According to reports, the school was forced to close after the Department of Education decertified the school’s accreditation organization, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). As a result, the school is not able to enroll new students. 

Technically, the Department of Education allows any schools that were accredited through the ACICS to remain accredited for 18 months while they get a new accreditor, Stratford’s President Richard Shurtz told a news outlet that without the income from new students, the school could not afford to keep its doors open—so the decision to close was made. Now, hundreds of nursing students—even some who have already accepted job offers pending graduation–are left wondering if they will have to start their degrees completely over. 

About the Closure

Established in 1976, Stratford University has had multiple campuses in Virginia and has a typical student community made up of commuters who work full-time while pursuing degrees in business administration, nursing and healthcare, hospitality, and computer sciences. There are close to 2,000 students enrolled total in the school, including part-time, full-time, and online students. There are 800 students who are enrolled full-time and will be affected the most. 

The for-profit school announced that all of its campuses would be closed by the end of the week, leading students to gather on the campus yesterday in an attempt to get answers from administrators on what they should do next. The school’s administrators reportedly announced that they would have more answers for the students by mid-week, on Wednesday. 

One of the most difficult parts about the closure—in addition to the fact that over 150 employees are also losing their jobs—is that the highest enrollment of the school is the nursing school. The over 100 nursing students that gathered on the campus on Monday asked the school’s President to keep the school open for another year to allow them to finish their degrees. Or, if they really could not afford to keep the school open, the students asked for guaranteed admission to another school where their credits could transfer. 

What Comes Next for Nursing Students

Stratford University’s nursing program offers a BSN, BSN completion, and an MSN track. As of Tuesday morning, there was nothing announcing the school’s closure on their website and their last Facebook update from September 19 was a post plugging their Masters of Healthcare Administration degree.  A video posted by medical assistant Amethyst Whitaker depicts footage from the town hall meeting:

Whitaker also posted a video on Instagram describing what the nursing students are going through. “Imagine being a nursing student, working hard to get your BSN degree, when all of a sudden, your nursing school closes with little to no communication,” she said. In the video, Whitaker claims that despite the fact that Stratford claims they have plans to work with local schools to transfer nursing students, none of the local schools are aware of the plan and furthermore, none of the schools take credits from Stratford—so the nursing students are being threatened to have to start their degrees completely over. From scratch. 

Other students, reportedly enrolled, commented on Whittaker’s post, expressing distress over the prospect of lost time, classes, and no degree. 

 

In the town hall meeting on Monday, President Shurtz discussed an option to have the nursing students transfer to Tysons-based Chamberlain University College of Nursing, which is also a for-profit college. More details are set to be released later this week if that deal is going to happen. 

The predicament is a tough one for nursing students, as despite the fact that nursing curricula in nursing schools touch on similar themes to prepare students to pass the NCLEX, exact admission requirements, classes, and how credits transfer. Further complicating things, for-profit colleges sometimes have different transfer requirements so a class may not transfer fully to a new school. 

Additionally, the students have been on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, with details being told to them that have now changed. For instance, students were initially told they would be allowed to complete their degrees through a “teach-out” program. Other students were encouraged to enroll and pay for their next term as recently as last week—only to get a letter, days letter that the school would be closing. Some students are as close to weeks away from graduating and have taken upwards of $50K in loans. 

No updates have been released from the school yet. President Shurtz told students on Monday, “I know you’re upset, but I love you.”