Ashford University announced approximately 450 layoffs Monday morning. A majority of the layoffs were from San Diego, according to a school spokesperson Shari Rodriguez.
Employees were told to come in early when they were shown a video and offered a two-week severance package.
Rodriguez says it is part of a company-wide reorganization.
“We were called in to this meeting that we were called in for on Friday, and we had no idea what this meeting was,” a laid off employees told NBC 7 San Diego. “This video comes on and within 30 seconds they’re like, ‘Your position no longer exists, you’re terminated.’”
Another former employee said she was in a room with 100 people when they were told by a human resources representative their positions no longer existed.
“They just said because of all the changes, they were getting laid off," she said.
Employees said they were shocked by the news.
“Nobody expected it, it was a shock to everyone,” said a former employee in her 20s. “People were crying, people who have families, people who had just bought cars because they thought they had a stable job no longer have any of that.”
About a dozen former employees gathered at a Pacific Beach bar after they were told the news.
All laid off employees had worked for Ashford for less than six months and worked primarily in the recruitment area. An administrative employee told NBC 7 San Diego that many of those laid off were admissions counselors who dealt primarily with the students.
A statement from Ashford University said the following:
"Ashford University is committed to providing its students with the best opportunity to succeed, and, to that end; a reorganization of Ashford's student-facing staff has been implemented with the goal of improving student retention and academic success. As a result, 400 Ashford employees have been reassigned to roles that will support this new process and, regrettably, approximately 450 Ashford Admissions positions in San Diego and Denver have been eliminated."
Ashford University offers Associate's, Bachelor's and Master's degrees through a campus-based or online program. It is owned by Bridgepoint Education.