Last week, a Chinese woman was sentenced to 16 years of federal prisonfor running a bogus university in San Francisco, California.
For almost 1,800 Indian students, job prospects were ruined. At the time, US authorities allowed only 435 students to transfer to other universities. The remaining were denied transfer, or they voluntarily chose to return to India.
But the Tri-Valley University was not the only diploma mill—as the unaccredited universities are sometimes called—duping mostly Indian students. The same year the University of Northern Virginia was raided by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other federal agencies. About 2,000 Indian students were found working in other US states and taking online classes from their enrolled university—as opposed to living and studying on campus. Last year, the University of Northern Virginia was ordered to close down.
By becoming prey to a bogus university, they not only lose a chance to earn a reputable degree and a job afterward, but they also face deportation and the prospect of criminal cases against them.
1. Beware of advertising
A degree is not a commodity. So, why advertise?
2. Avoid the matchmakers
In 2011, members of the All India Students Federation, the national students’ union body, demonstrated outside the US Consulate in Hyderabad to express solidarity with the duped students of Tri-Valley University. The union president, Syed Vali Ullah Khadri, told Quartz that students shouldn’t be blamed.
“Tri-Valley University marketed through its mediators in India who promised part-time jobs, a foreign degree, and scholarships to students. Obviously they are lured. These agents offer discounts, and students can bargain to avail of the best offer,” Khadri said.
3. Read on the web
Look at the university websites, and search news related to the school you’ve chosen. Besides, use the university professors to find out as much information pertaining the quality of the university. Also, read about the professors. Who are they? What are their credentials? Email them your queries, and judge them on their straightforwardness. If need be, stalk them on social media platforms.
4. Join the alumni network
According to Bansal, students often don’t make proper enquiries. “When you buy a car, you first go for a test-drive. Or, you will ask at least 10 people, or look for some 100 reviews. But when you have to choose a college, within India itself, people won’t travel to find out whether or not it’s a good college. It’s just on hearsay.”
5. Use social media to meet people abroad
Following the right people on LinkedIn and Twitter can help, too. Connect with people who have probably studied in a university in the same state, or country, and they could tell you the reputation that your preferred university enjoys. If you can, email them your questions. Ask them to connect you with relevant sources.
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Bogus foreign universities dupe thousands of Indian students—here’s how to outsmart them
Posted on November 15, 2014