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Philadelphia’s University of the Arts Announces Sudden Closing

The school was created by the 1985 merger of the Philadelphia College of Art and the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts.

This news follows similar closures across the country, partly due to pressures on higher education generally, but also due to the particular vulnerabilities of arts institutions. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the nation’s first art school and museum, founded in Philadelphia in 1805, is ending its degree programs at the end of the 2024-2025 academic year. (The University of the Arts had been designated to host some of the Academy’s students.) Last April, the 150-year-old Art Institute of San Francisco filed for bankruptcy, and this fall the Art Institutes, a system of for-profit colleges, announced the closure of eight campuses nationwide.

Some failing schools have outdone themselves with construction projects; others bought a property at the peak of the market, then saw its value plummet. Many have faced challenges caused by the disruption to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process. The pandemic has hit art schools particularly hard, as students prefer to study these subjects in person, Deborah Obalil, president of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design, whose university was member.

Tuition for the 2023-2024 year was $54,010, according to a spokesperson, although the average cost of tuition is lower because, according to the university, all students receive some sort of institutional support.

Additionally, without large endowments, art schools are generally unable to provide significant financial aid. The university’s endowment was about $60 million, officials said. Yale’s was $40.7 billion in 2023, and that of the highly regarded California Institute of the Arts – known as CalArts – was $213.8 million in 2022.

The financial difficulties of the University of the Arts were widely known. Additionally, there has been relatively rapid turnover among presidents with contrasting views, leaving some repeatedly feeling a sense of whiplash, as well as rapid turnover at the dean level and in admissions and admissions offices. ‘advancement.

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