View Full Version : Beware of art institutes.

09 September 2011, 01:17 AM
US Govt Sues The Art Institutes for $11 Billion Fraud

While the civil lawsuit is one of many raising similar charges against the expanding for-profit college industry, the case is the first in which the government intervened to back whistle-blowersí claims that a company consistently violated federal law by paying recruiters based on how many students it enrolled. The suit said that each year, Education Management falsely certified that it was complying with the law, making it eligible to receive student financial aid.

ďThe depth and breadth of the fraud laid out in the complaint are astonishing,Ē said Harry Litman, a lawyer in Pittsburgh and former federal prosecutor who is one of those representing the two whistle-blowers whose 2007 complaints spurred the suit. ďIt spans the entire company ó from the ground level in over 100 separate institutions up to the most senior management ó and accounts for nearly all the revenues the company has realized since 2003.Ē

Education Management, which is based in Pittsburgh and is 41 percent owned by Goldman Sachs, enrolls about 150,000 students in 105 schools operating under four names: Art Institute, Argosy University, Brown Mackie College and South University.

Since 1986, the government has recovered more than $25 billion in false-claim cases, many of them based on pharmaceutical company marketing, hospitals overbilling or defense contractor fraud. Given their explosive growth, for-profit colleges ó which now serve more than 10 percent of the students enrolled in higher education, yet account for about half of all defaults on student loans ó could become a new prime source for such cases.
According to the 122-page complaint, Education Management got $2.2 billion of federal financial aid in fiscal 2010, making up 89.3 percent of its net revenues.


09 September 2011, 12:18 AM
That's a crazy statistic. I am not a fan of post secondary schools after my problem with VFS.

09 September 2011, 09:19 PM
What problems did you experience with VFS?

09 September 2011, 06:29 AM
One of the main problems is the fact that VFS is a fraud school. Everything that this article talks about describles exactly what VFS is doing with their marketing and deceptive sale pitches. VFS has virtually no one from Canada going to the school cause most Canadians can't afford to pay to go there. So the school markets worldwide to desperate, enthusiastic immigrants who need a diploma to get to stay and work in Canada.
Most art schools, esp for profit schools, are scams. For profit schools are in it for the money, and they need to have a certian amount of money each month coming in to remain in business if if that means lieing and selling a piece of garbage education to do so.

Here's my full review that I made about VFS:

Iíve been in love with animation, drawing and being creative since I was a little boy. I always dreamed of waking up every day and going to a job that really doesnít feel like a job but feels more like having fun. I couldnít imagine a better career than to do what I love and am most passionate about.
I choose the school for a variety of reasons. Prior to going to VFS, I was a student for Digital Animation at a local public college, and my experience there was not too favorable. One day as I was sitting in the computer lab browsing YouTube, I saw some of the VFS demo reels from the 3D Animation and Visual Effects students, and they looked amazing. That was the major factor contributing me to go to the school.
I did many things prior to going to VFS, because I knew it would be a lot of hard work to garner all the money I needed to get to go there. I talked the admissions adviser and a student who graduated from VFS. But the adviser didnít say anything bad about the school and the student was hand-picked by the school to give a testimony to me.
My previous experience was 10 years worth of art training and 2 years worth of software training at the public college I attended. I had basic understanding of the software that the school used and thought it would be beneficial if I went there with some of the skills I acquired from my other school.
The program is broken down into 6 terms. The first 2 terms deal with 3D modeling and animating, texturing, life drawing, classical animation and visual storytelling. The third term deals with the same but most of it with concept development for your demo reel. The last 3 terms of the program deal with your demo reel, and you go to a presentation once every month to showcase you work and get critique. The last term, though, is more for rendering.
The best things that I can think of about the school are the people. Iíve meet some really great people there. VFS is an international school, and you meet people from everywhere. Itís a great multicultural environment and has a few nice teachers. Sadly, I canít name too many good things about the school other than that.
VFS has so many bad things that as I am about to the name them off, they might make me sound like a frivolous, disgruntled student who never worked hard there or someone who just likes to complain. I am being 100% honest, and I am writing this to warn prospective students, especially the international ones. I have a duty to get my story out and warn other people. I do feel that what VFS is doing is a crime, and if my experience of VFS can better inform people about the school, I will have less of a burden on myself. Saving people from an unbelievable amount of debt and heartache is why I am doing this.
The cost to go there is beyond reasonable. The tuition is 55,000 dollars for international students and 35,500 dollars for Canadian/landed immigrant students. Thatís not even including the living expenses, which is another 13,000 dollars. Each year they seem to raise the tuition more and more. Iíve seen some international students pay over 68,000 just for that one year. And some of these international students had to save for that money in a different currency and work for years. Try converting that into Mexican pesos.
The curriculum at the school is so frolicsome. While you are there at the school, you are taking some many courses you donít need, from life drawing to classical animation to visual storytelling to character design. They were a complete waste of time, and they always got in the way of other work that was more important. Recently, since I had last checked the site, they changed their curriculum and got rid of a few courses. They also fired a few really bad teachers. The school doesnít like other people to know how bad a lot of the students complain about the school, and at the end of each term, they get all the students to write reviews about the courses they are taking and the school tries to revamp them. But they really havenít been taking it that seriously.
One of the biggest problems with the school is the marketing ploy. VFS spends millions of dollars a year on creating this perfect image of the school, showing all these great reels with the great posters and VFS logos. This marketing is how they are literally getting hoards of people around the world to go to Vancouver and spend a gargantuan of money. They have been doing this for years unrepentantly. A lot of the students never spoke out against the school over the misleading information the school advisers told them. What the school doesnít want you to know is that all those amazing reels came from people with previous experience and who had taught themselves before they went there. There are a few circumstances of when some students were able to pull of some good reels in the year and they had a bare amount of experience. Even in this rare circumstance, their success was not because of the school. VFS wants to take the successes of other students who are talented and hardworking and exploit the studentís success and talent until they find another reel to showcase the school.
The school 100% owns your demo reel when you are done. This is one of the worst things about the school. They can take your reel and use it however they like in their marketing scam, further contributing to the VFS delusion. They have you sign a copyright distribution release form at the start of the year and another one I think at the end of the year.
The time spent at VFS is so minuscule. One year is not enough time to learn everything you need and so much of your time is spent on frivolous projects that donít contribute to you getting a job. The scary thing about VFS is that the school is literally like a factory pumping students out or a vampire sucking their victim dry of money as quickly as possible. Itís unreal when you think about Ö treating peopleís hopes and dreams like a commodity or a meal.
The school doesnít do anything that you canít do for yourself. They teach bare minimum of anything at all. They lie about their job placement rate. If you go, youíll find out how many in your class will actually get a job. Some classmates will already be extremely advanced and will more than likely get a job once they graduate but others who donít have that talent and think that school will wave a magic wand and make them a great artist think again. When it comes to being a great artist, the best teacher in the world is you. Did Leonardo di Vinci or Michelangelo go to some prissy school to be the geniuses they were? No. They worked hard, experimented and loved what they did. If you have the sort of dedication, you can do anything you want. All the best artists, 3D artists and 2D artists were self-taught and used tutorials. Why spend all that money for a piece of paper when you can do it at home a 1/100th of the cost and get more of an education.
The class size at VFS has increased a lot in the last 5 years or so. I think they added 8 new seats to a term since 2004. They used to have like 22 in a class. When I was there, it was 30 to a class, but now itís 32. They are literally trying to squeeze as many students into a class as possible. They barely had enough space as it is, and they added 2 more. The school was saying about how popular the school is and how they wanted to increase the class size. I was baffled at how greedy the school is. Since they were able to convince many people that the school was great, they claimed VFS to be popular.
VFS has some up-to-date equipment and lots of computers and they were supposed to have added a render farm. I imagine they would try to get the best equipment, considering the amount of money it takes to go there. But students have to complain enough or the school will just slack off and do nothing at all.
Itís hectic and just flat out crazy in that school. You have to be there to experience it. The whole program is disorganized. Good luck finding a computer to render your frames for your end of term presentations. The term presentations are a waste of time, too. The teachers just there and talk out of their behind at your stuff. Most of the studentís would rather be working on other important things. Altogether, roughly 2 weeks or more of your time at that school is just sitting there at inconsequential presentations. They always make a big deal out of presentations and going to class; and if you miss a certain amount of class even if you hand everything in on time, they will kick you out no questions asked. Teachers there can be cruel too and give you a mark of zero even if something is 5 minutes late and they act all superior over it, even though you are paying their salary, and you are the customeróI mean, student. A few of the teachers are not that bad about time delays and handing things in on time. The industry doesnít care about marks or what school you went too. Thatís the 100% truth.
I wouldnít recommend this school to anyone who is serious about the animation industry. I would also definitely not recommend this place to international students. VFS loves international students. Ninety percent of all the students there are from abroad, and I guess they think international students are easier to trick. Most international students go there to just get the diploma so they can stay and work in Canada.
If you want to learn everything you need to be a 3D artist, go to digital tutors ( or animation mentor or other online ways of learning. Also, go and download some tutorials from torrents. Many people post free tutorials too. But if you want to spend all the money and waste all that time and you are rich and have the money, go to VFS. You have nothing to lose, but if you are poor and hardworking and you are working 2 jobs like I did, I would severely advise you to reconsider.
I am not working at all right now. I am working a minimum wage job and am still working on my reel that isnít done yet.
I wouldíve listened to the art reviews on this website about VFS. I read one about VFS for the 3D Animation and Visual Effects program from a guy who had the ďVFS: A Risky InvestmentĒ review. His review was a very honest and truthful one. This was a month before I started, and I was really concerned on whether or not he was right. In the end, it turns out he was, and it was lots of regret and hurt that transpired after that.
I had high expectations for this school, and I had a lot of faith in this school. Iíve meet so many nice people there at the school but such low quality in teaching and compassion destroyed a lot of my hope in human beings. VFS is a business, not a school. At the end of the day, your money meant more to VFS than your well being and dreams. I find that very rude and inhuman. Iíve heard many horror stories of students that spent all that money and were jobless at the end of the year and in so much debt they werenít able to live adequately for a while because of student loan payments. Some had chronic stress and depression, a lot of which I am still dealing with today.
If you have read this far, you know where I stand on VFS or any other school. I am not against schooling in general but people have been trying to capitalize on the phenomena of the CGI marvel.

03 March 2012, 02:24 AM
This is funny that I would find something like this on a site like this. I am currently enrolled at an Art Institute, but will be graduating in June of this year. It seems that the quality of students that come into this school is declining rapidly and has been since I started back in '07. My degree is for Media Arts and Animation. I'm not a wizard at animation, and for me, I am here for a career change. Sure I have to work a little harder than others but that does not prevent me from loving animation and the work that goes into it. I feel that a good 80% of these students that come into this school are here to please their mommies and daddies, and to keep them off their backs. I'm so tired of seeing the quality of students come in here with the mindset that they are still in high school. And I agree with you MoonFairyMagic, there is no magic wand that will make any student excellent when they are in college or finish it. Some are gifted and can enjoy their passion a little less stressful, but for others, such as myself, I will continue to work at it and love it as long as it is there to do so! True, the recruiters lie about job placement and the % of students that get jobs when they graduate. I know many animators that have graduated from here that don't have jobs yet and they were the ones that I would think would get work right away. One of the major concepts that I have absorbed here is that it's not always the degree and the work that will get you where you want to go, but rather WHO you know! Networking is a major factor when dealing with an industry such as this. One more thing, there is no set guidelines to meet when applying for schools such as this, unlike that of every University or State college out there. I guess that is what you get when going to a trade school.

03 March 2012, 11:13 PM
I'm currently a student at VFS. If your demo reel sucks and couldn't get a job outside, its probably because you didn't work hard enough. Its true that most of the best reels comes from the people who had previous experience but I have seen awesome reels from the people who never touched 3D before. VFS is no magic , its just a tool. Getting the best out of it is totally up-to you.

03 March 2012, 06:26 PM
I read over that block of text, but that's common for for profit schools. I went to a "big name" school when they were still a state level college program and only racked up $15,000 worth of loans to get my degree [this was in the 90's mind you] and today I can't see how a student can justify spending $100,000+ dollars on an arts/animation degree where the entry level wage is often around $30-40,000/yr if you are lucky. Provided you are one of the few 10% of graduates who gets a job related to the degree...

All that being said, a few things you bring up is pretty bad. Especially demo reel ownership, I'd read over the agreement for the program and cross that out or amend that. Failing that you can give the school one [crappy] reel and keep your job/hire reel for yourself. I've told students to do that in the past. Do the minimum to get your certificate/diploma and work on your jobs reel at home on your own machine.

As for showing up to class and handing in assignments on time... go cry me a river. It's college, you paid for it, at least you can show up on time to class so you don't make the rest of the students wait for you to show up or waste time having the instructor repeat things during class.

As for deadlines on assignments, when I went to a fine arts program you get a zero for late assignment. That was known up front. The end result was a few late nighters for people who couldn't manage time but everyone got their stuff in on time. I don't see that as a valid complaint.

But most of the things you have stated, exist at most schools. Ideally you can get a nice arts/design degree at a college on your own, learning design, painting, photography, life drawing, and learn the CGI stuff on your own.

The certificates, marks, transcripts, diplomas aren't important to getting a job.... ONLY if you don't plan to work in other countries. You will need to have credentials in order to obtain a work visa.

03 March 2012, 10:56 PM
I didn't know it was just a 1 year program. That in of itself speaks volumes.

(I understand the thread is a bit old, but the topic is still interesting)

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