VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Students at Stratford University got a shocking announcement on Wednesday.
The school sent out an email saying three campuses are shutting their doors — two of them are in Hampton Roads.
The campuses that are closing are in Virginia Beach, Newport News and Glen Allen, and over 500 students are affected.
The school said it’s working with students to help them through this transition, but some students said they were blindsided by the announcement.
“I was in shock like ‘what are you talking about?’ said Keith Reese.
Reese has been a culinary student at the Virginia Beach campus since 2015. Another student we spoke to off camera said some students were crying after the news spread.
10 On Your Side sat down with school administrators who said Stratford University has expanded dramatically over the last six years.
This includes internationally and online so we’re told the school has decided to focus its efforts in those areas – but that means closing the Virginia Beach, Newport News and Glen Allen locations.
“The campuses down here just aren’t viable financially,” said David Brand, Vice-President of Academics for the university.
Brand tells us it was a tough decision, but school officials will be meeting with each of the 555 students affected. They’re also hosting town hall style meetings to answer questions.
“We know it’s an inconvenience. We want them to be happy. We want them to get the degree they came here to get,” he said.
Brand said all students will be able to finish their degree through online classes, attend another campus, or do a mix of online and in-person classes at another campus.
“Not only will they be able to finish their degree, we’re going to give them a 25% tuition reduction,” Brand said.
However, Reese said those options aren’t ideal.
“I didn’t come here to take online classes. If I wanted online classes then that’s what I would’ve taken," he said. “At the end of the day, this was the only campus a lot of us can get to.”
Brand said they will work with all students to get them on track to finish their degree.
“I would say to anybody that’s unhappy to come see me. I will be here through Friday and I will do whatever I can within reason to make you happy,” he said.
School officials said May 24 is the last day for all scheduled classes at these locations, but classes that require in-person labs will be able to do that at the Virginia Beach campus until the end of the fourth term in October.
They also say they’re working to help students who choose to transfer to another college and outplacement services are being offered to faculty and staff affected.