Thursday, August 04, 2011

Tales from Academic Netherworld: After Tri-Valley, it's now Northern Virginia

... a Chronicle investigation suggests that Tri-Valley is only the beginning. Other colleges—most of them unaccredited—exploit byzantine federal regulations, enrolling almost exclusively foreign students and charging them upward of $3,000 for a chance to work legally in the United States. They flourish in California and Virginia, where regulations are lax, and many of their practices—for instance, holding some classes on only three weekends per semester—are unconventional, to say the least. These colleges usher in thousands of foreign students and generate millions of dollars in profits because they have the power, bestowed by the U.S. government, to help students get visas.

While these institutions are well-known among Indian students looking to work full time, they have managed to go mostly unnoticed in the United States. That anonymity is just fine with Daniel Ho, the owner of the University of Northern Virginia, an unaccredited college that has called itself the most popular American university for Indian students. Says Mr. Ho: "We don't want people to know us."

From this Chronicle story by Tom Bartlett, Karin Fischer, and Josh Keller. [It comes with a chart and a slideshow -- grim stuff.]

See also Indira Kannan in The Business Standard: That risky rush for a US degree.

Some or several of the students may not be blameless victims. They had enrolled at these universities precisely as a way of getting into the US on student visas to work immediately – some at grocery stores or a McDonald’s, in cities hundreds of miles away from campus – while ostensibly taking classes online. But for those who joined these schools in pursuit of their dream of a US education, it’s a grim awakening.

The Telugu Association of North America, or Tana, which has been counselling the affected students, fears the Tri-Valley and UNVA cases are just the tip of the iceberg. “There are another 15,000-20,000 Indian students minimum” at similar universities of dubious repute, says Ashok Kolla, the Chair for NRI Student Services at Tana.