Le Courdon Bleu schools to close

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

After years in le rouge, Le Cordon Bleu schools in U.S. to close.

Le Cordon Bleu, the vocational school that trains chefs and food-industry professionals, will shutter its North American campuses, including the one in Scottsdale. Career Education Corporation—the for-profit parent company that owns the brand, announced Wednesday it will no longer enroll new students after Jan. 4, 2016, and will begin discontinuing operations.

Le Cordon Bleu’s parent company Career Education Company (CEC) has been losing money for some time and has announced that the 120-year-old food and hospitality institution will shut down its American operations. Existing students will be able to finish their programs and all campuses are expected to remain open until September 2017, said a release from the company. Tuition fees cost up to $42,500 and, according to the New York Daily News, students complained about being misled by the school on job prospects after graduating.

Career Education Corporation also operates other well-known for-profit brands including American InterContinental University and Sanford-Brown Colleges. Late celebrity chef Julia Child attended the Paris school following the Second World War after she became inspired to take up cooking by a delicious meal of oysters, sole and wine in Rouen.

The sale announcement does not include those brands. “New federal regulations make it difficult to project the future for career schools that have higher operating costs, such as culinary schools that require expensive commercial kitchens and ongoing food costs,” said Todd Nelson, president and chief executive officer of Career Ed, in a news release. “Despite our best efforts to find a new caretaker for these well-renowned culinary colleges, we could not reach an agreement that we believe was in the best interests of both our students and our stockholders.” The 115-year-old culinary brand, famous for teaching Julia Child in Paris, has enjoyed a stellar reputation. She brought French cuisine to the American public with her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking and went on to write more books as well as hosting her own television shows. But the institution has at times came under fire by graduates who said the school lured in students with the promise of become chefs, when in reality few graduates obtain that position. While the restaurant business has arguably never been more glamorous — at least from the outside — Career Education, which owns the U.S. arm of the chain, has been reeling in recent years from complaints from graduates that Cordon Bleu diplomas weren’t worth the schools’ hefty tuition fees, which can range from $16,000 to as much as $42,550.

In 2013 it paid $40 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by former students who alleged Career Education oversold the benefits of a Cordon Bleu diploma, leaving them with large student loans and only poor-paying restaurant industry jobs. A federal crackdown on “predatory” for-profit schools that take advantage of students, including new regulations which limit student loan payments to 20 percent of a graduate’s after-tax wages, also hit Cordon Bleu hard and was cited by Career Education CEO Todd Nelson, who took over in August, as a reason for the closure. Many complained that they made salaries of just $12 an hour after earning degrees from the prestigious academy, and worked in menial jobs such as line cooks and baristas that did not require costly training. But the company has been struggling mightily since 2011 amid allegations and fines to settle charges that it inflated job placement rates to boost enrollment.

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