19 March 2018 | Atlantic Union College has been asked by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to respond to a complaint that claims the institution scammed its students. According to a March 12 letter from the Department of Higher Education to AUC President, Dr. Avis Hendrickson, the institution has 30 days to respond to the complaint from a group calling themselves Students Fighting For Justice.
The scamming complaint centers on the claim that AUC had told students at the school that it had a “full transfer partnership” with Andrews University. Students Fighting for Justice stated that AUC claimed a similar articulation agreement with Southwestern Adventist University. Andrews University has since clarified that only certain class credits will be offered guaranteed transfer from AUC. Similarly, the complaint states that Southwestern “has only approved for a select amount of courses to be articulated.”
The complaint also references two student petitions and links to the most recent petition which called on the college to refund its students. The most recent petition calls on “those in charge of AUC to openly apologize for their mistakes and pay back all students the money they wasted at this poor excuse for a college.”
In filing the complaint with the Department of Higher Education, Students Fighting for Justice stated that they have contacted an attorney about the complaint but will not yet disclose the name of the attorney(s).
Due to financial troubles and lack of accreditation, AUC had announced that it would suspend its baccalaureate program by the end of this semester and would terminate its certificate programs by December.
The institution initially closed in 2011 due to severe financial difficulties and the loss of accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. It reopened in 2015 without accreditation. As it only offered two bachelor degrees (Religion and Theology) and a handful of professional certificates, AUC found it difficult to recruit students. Low enrollment was not helped by the school’s unaccredited status which meant that students were unable to access financial aid to study at AUC.
With only about 50 students currently enrolled, AUC has been supported by constituent conferences of the Atlantic Union. This support started to erode in April 2017 when the Southern New England Conference voted to discontinue funding to the school. More recently, Greater New York Conference and the Bermuda Conference also reduced or ended funding for AUC, putting an incredible strain on the institution.
Atlantic Union College was first established in 1882 as a preparatory school. It became a degree-granting college in 1922. At its enrollment peak, the institution had over 700 students.