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A Utah-based technology school that since July has run classes at a Northern Virginia shopping mall is calling the expansion quits.

Neumont University, a private university that for less than two months offered computer science degrees from its spot next to the Old Navy in Dulles Town Center mall, told students last week that the school’s first semester would be its last.

The main reason for the shutdown is that the school’s planned move to permanent digs in an office building at 1 Dulles Town Center was stymied by “zoning issues and a number of other factors,” says Brock Holmes, senior vice president of marketing.

The school had planned to move from the mall to the new building in early 2008. With the new building on hold, the school decided the mall campus would not attract enough students to make the expansion work, according to Neumont’s Web site.

The 23 students currently enrolled at the mall have been offered free tuition at the Utah campus.

For his part, Howard Bender, who left the University of Maryland after 27 years to become academic director of the Virginia campus, said he surprised by the quick in-and-out of the Utah school.

“We were just as amazed as anybody that they would close it so quickly,” Bender says.

Online, students from both the Virginia outpost and the Utah mothership discussed the reasoning behind the closing.

“It’s hard to take you seriously when you’re a college that is in a mall next to something like a Panda Express,” quips one blogger.

“I would love to go to school where there was a Panda Express next door,” replies a commenter.

Perhaps that was part of the problem. Although the mall students had excellent access to fast food options including Chick-fil-A, Sbarro, and Taco Bell, the mall currently has no Panda Express.