All seven first-year students with the University of Southern California's Roski School of Art and Design say they are leaving the program, citing unanticipated changes to their tuition subsidies and the curriculum among several concerns.
They said the revisions all but dismantled the program they had signed up for.
The students said they were expecting they would have a tuition subsidy for the first year that would carry over to their second year.
“However, a different funding model was presented to us upon acceptance to the Program by the Roski administration: we would receive a scholarship for some of our first-year tuition, and would have a Teaching Assistantship with fully-funded tuition, a stipend, and benefits for the entirety of our second year upon completion of our first-year coursework," they said in a statement.
The students also said administrators made “drastic changes” to the curriculum and faculty structure.
Twenty-six-year-old George Egerton-Warburton, among the students leaving the program, moved from Australia to attend USC. He said the tuition changes would double his debt.
“It’s been really expensive and hard just moving here. So to have to leave on top of that after setting aside these two years to exclusively concentrate on your practice is kind of harrowing,” he said.
Erica Muhl, dean of the Roski School of Art and Design, said the program offers students a financial package “worth at least 90 percent of tuition costs in scholarships” and teaching assistantships.
"The school honored all the terms in the students’ offer letters," Muhl said, in a written statement. The practice at Roski is to offer students scholarships and they can apply for teaching assistantships. The students would have been first in line for the assistantships if they met requirements, she added.
As for curriculum changes, she said those are ongoing.
Muhl said she thought the financial aid and curriculum issues had been resolved, but she added: "I have met with the students at length and hope for an opportunity to continue engaging them in a full and open conversation."