The Edmonton Digital Arts College (EDAC) is shutting its doors after an 11th-hour effort to find an unnamed buyer failed to keep the school open, EDAC executive director and owner Owen Brierley confirmed Tuesday.
“The tech and creative industry in Alberta is going to suffer for a while,” said instructor Logan Foster.
Some staff have offered to volunteer to review final portfolios so that students who enrolled in September will still be able to graduate, but students who began later will need to enrol at another college to complete their training.
Brierley said the classrooms will remain open “to make sure the students have what they need to finish.”
Students in the April cohort who are not placed at another institution may apply to the financial security held by the Private Career Colleges branch for tuition refunds.
There are comparable programs at other educational institutions in the city, but Foster said none of them offer the same educational experience at the same pace.
“There isn’t another school out there that does this work to the capabilities and quality level that we were,” he said.
“The content alone of the program is miles ahead of what other schools have to offer in Edmonton, and that’s due to the hard work that instructors put in,” said student Allison Arnold.
“It’s devastating to lose this community,” said Arnold.
“The experience that I had just made me want to come back and learn more. It’s worth the price. It’s a real shame that it’s come to this. EDAC made Edmonton a great place for people who want to get into this industry,” said student Trystin Rosenberger.
Foster said the school’s closure will leave a huge gap for both employers and students.
“I think the entire staff is very upset about it. We’d all worked very hard to produce an amazing program at the school. So we were very shocked and surprised — we’ve gone through a range of emotions. (We are) disappointed that we’re not going to be able to help these students out. Because very much they are family to us,” said Foster.
The private college relied entirely on tuition fees to operate, and financial pressures became too much too bear.
“To single out one source as to why this happened is to blame the last straw for breaking the camel’s back. It is subject to the market fluctuations of the day and that can get pretty intense,” Brierley said.
In four 10-month program streams, the college taught more than 56 students and employed six teachers, four teaching assistants, and three administration staff. The school is still planning a graduation ceremony with the help of community partners on July 31, he said.
“I’m really proud of the work that everyone has done. It’s a sad and hard situation to work through, but at the same time, I have wonderful memories of this time. It was my heart and soul for a decade,” said Brierley.