The Brazilian Education Ministry withdrew Tuesday the operating licenses from two private universities in Rio de Janeiro for their low academic standards and serious financial problems.

The institutions affected are the Gama Filho University, or UGF, and the City University Center, or UniverCidade.

Closure of the universities will affect thousands of students, 1,600 professors and close to 1,000 administrative workers, according to the Grupo Galileo, owner of both institutions.

The two schools together have close to 12,000 students, of whom some 8,900 attend UGF, the Education Ministry told Efe.

Reasons for closing the learning centers were their low academic standards, the "critical" financial situation of Grupo Gallego, and the lack of a viable plan to overcome their problems, the ministry said.

Grupo Galileo considered the decision as "unjust and arbitrary," and said it had presented an adequate reorganization project.

The two universities have been under the supervision of the authorities since 2012 due to academic and financial problems.

In August, the Education Ministry preventively banned the enrollment of new students both in UGF and UniverCidade.

In December the ministry established a process for applying administrative penalties on the company for failure to comply with the reorganization plan.

The ministry made a commitment Tuesday to help students transfer to other universities.

Scores of students gathered Tuesday at the entrances to UniverCidade and UGF to protest the ministry's decision.

A group of students told the media they plan to travel to Brasilia to seek an audience with President Dilma Rousseff and Education Minister Aloizio Mercadante in order to find a solution that will allow them to continue their studies. mp/cd