Wednesday, January 06, 2016

For Some Foreign Students, Education Isn't the Goal

A Look at 2 Bay Area Schools Majoring in Immigration Benefits

The Center for Immigration Studies has looked at the case of two U.S. universities where receiving an education is apparently secondary to providing immigration benefits for foreign students.

These visa mills, both in the San Francisco Bay Area, draw attention to how the minimal scrutiny DHS provides to lower-level educational institutions leads to tens of thousands of foreign nationals entering the country.

The two educational institutions, Silicon Valley University (SVU), and Northwestern Polytechnic University (NPU), are operated predominately by Chinese-Americans and attended by several thousand students, about 70 percent of them from just two states in southern India. Several of the students travelling to these schools have been turned away by immigration officials or deported and even more have been banned from taking flights to the U.S., as India's ministry of external affairs waits for the U.S. government's explanation for the denial of entries.

The two institutions are accredited by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to teach foreign students. This DHS licensing allows the schools to issue the paperwork (called I-20 forms) that allow the students to receive F-1 foreign student visas from U.S. consulates in India.

David North, a fellow with the Center and author of the articles, said, "Visa mills are a problem in the U.S. and often do not receive the priority they should at DHS. The agency is slow to discover the fraud, slow to shut them down, and often does not deport the F-1 students who are often clearly and purposely purchasing entry to the country and not an education. In this case, DHS appears to have identified the problem and acted appropriately."

View North's two articles here:

NPU has an almost inconceivable profit margin of 75 percent, with a profit of close to $30 million on revenue of $40 million. But interestingly only 14.7 percent of gross revenue was spent on salaries and benefits in 2014, when most schools are at or over 50 percent, due to the cost of faculty necessary to operate a serious educational institution.

The quality of the education offered may also be reflected in the mission statement on NPU's 2014 IRS tax return (the Form 990), which contains misspellings of words as basic as "undergraduate" and "graduate." NPU also misspelled its own name, with "Polythechnic", "Polythcnic", and "Polytechic" all making appearances in the tax return.

Minimal scrutiny has allowed many institutions to bring in thousands of students who receive a visa, but little or no education. Previous cases like this have been exposed in the Bay Area; ICE closed Tri-Valley University, and the owner and former CEO of another institution, Herguan University, was sent to jail for immigration fraud. Yet another Chinese-run, Indian-attended visa mill, the University of Northern Virginia, was closed by state authorities in 2013 and subsequently de-listed by the slow-moving SEVP.

DHS has not elaborated on their investigation of NPU and SVU. But the media in India have been reporting on this story, which could impact the reputation of other students from India who study diligently in the U.S. at serious educational institutions. One Indian news report described the two schools as "a massive academic rip-off . . . diploma mills that are acting as turnstiles for hopeful immigrants."

An email from CIS

An old, old controversy

Girls who attend single-sex schools leave with top grades but may be at a 'huge disadvantage' later on if they are unable to talk to boys, a leading headmaster has suggested.

Richard Cairns, head of Brighton College, said young women could face difficulties if they do not learn to socialise with the opposite sex as children.

In a magazine article, Mr Cairns took aim at single-sex schools, saying he was puzzled by parents looking for a place that will prepare their child for the future who are swayed by 'outdated notions' about young women performing better in girls-only schools.

'All parents looking for a school for their daughter have broadly similar criteria in mind,' he wrote. 'They want somewhere that readies their child for the world beyond the school gates, academically and socially.

'That is why I am often perplexed when they end up being swayed by outdated notions about girls performing better in single sex schools and plump for that deeply unrealistic world.

'After all, if girls do not learn to socialise with boys as children, what happens when they go out into the work place?

'They may have a clutch of A*s and a first class degree but if they cannot meaningfully converse and communicate with male colleagues they will be at a huge disadvantage.'

Supporters of girls' schools argue that students achieve high standards, and are more likely to take subjects traditionally seen as 'male' - such as physics and maths.

Caroline Jordan, president of the Girls' Schools Association (GSA) said it was 'old-fashioned' to assume that these schools do not offer plenty of appropriate opportunities for young women to interact with young men.

In his article, Mr Cairns argued that girls at Brighton College - a co-educational private school - would not say that they have been held back by learning alongside boys.

He went on to acknowledge that there are many good schools that are co-educational and many that are single-sex.

But he added: 'There is something, I feel, much more common to schools that educate both boys and girls and that something is kindness.

'Boys in single-sex school tend to create their own artificial hierarchies where only those in the 1st XV rugby team are truly valued while girls-only schools sometimes suffer a degree of emotional intensity that can lead to bullying.

'Contrast that with a co-educational world where girls admire the boys who dance, sing or act, and so, therefore, do the boys. Contrast that too with a mixed environment where the emotional intensity of all girls is diluted by the boys.

'In other words, there is a place for everyone and an environment where girls and boys can be themselves.'


Australia: Expensive government schooling for poor parents

Requiring schoolkids to use computers all the time is absurd.  Computer literacy should be taught using school computers but most subjects can be taught without them.  How did we learn Maths, English, History etc for hundreds of years before computers?  There still is such a thing as a book!

"How do you prefer your taxes to be spent? Apple or Microsoft?"

That's the question one Canberra father believes his son's new school is asking, after its inclusion of Apple iPads and notebook computers on a list of back-to-school equipment is threatening to set parents back thousands of dollars.

Mark Wilson's son – whose name Fairfax Media has chosen to withhold – is enrolled to begin year seven at Melba Copland Secondary School  this year.

Mr Wilson said he was shocked when he received a list of essential requirements for the 2016 school year in the post. It came at a cost of $2794.67.

He thought it seemed unfair as it is a public school in a catchment area which gives priority to some of Canberra's most disadvantaged suburbs, but when he voiced his complaints, he was told it was "the way of the future".

"Whose future? I limit my kids to one hour of television a day because of the health factor, now you're telling me they've got to be in front of a computer screen for six-and-a-half hours a day because you deem it the best way to go?" Mr Wilson said.

His concerns stem from his family's financial situation.

The former local business owner was forced to go on a government pension several years ago due to illness.

His older daughter, who was already a student at the school, has chosen to transfer to a different school to alleviate some of the financial burden on her parents.

Her book pack, plus that of his youngest daughter who attends primary school, will cost $500 combined.

His son desperately wants to attend Melba Copland Secondary School though, as it's close to his home and his friends will be there.

While Mr Wilson has been encouraged by the school and the education directorate to apply for financial assistance, he said it is unfair for taxpayers to shell out "another $3000" so his son can attend the public school.

"I feel bad enough being on the pension as it is. It doesn't sit well with me and to ask for more handouts is even more ridiculous."

Mr Wilson is also worried carrying around the expensive technology will make students the target of thieves.

"I grew up poor. If I knew kids were walking around with $3000 worth of computer equipment on their back [when I was a kid] you'd be going home with a black eye, bloody nose and I'd have your backpack," he said.

He estimates 70 parents have submitted a formal complaint about what he deems excessive requirements, although an Education and Training Directorate spokesperson disputed this.

The spokesperson said the list is just a guideline and the school has a number of devices available for students to use.

"There is no compulsion to purchase all or any products and information has been provided to families to ensure full knowledge of this arrangement.

"Families are encouraged to approach their school to discuss the needs of the child and the family. Schools also have arrangements in place to ensure students have equity of access."

The spokesperson said information and communications technologies are an important part of teaching and learning for students of all backgrounds and is mandated in the Australian curriculum.

The ACT government spent $9.2 million on information technologies in schools last financial year, with a further $38 million committed over the next four years.

"Our schools emphasise the use of ICT and the development of ICT skills to ensure that their students can develop the necessary skills to analyse information, solve problems and communicate in a highly digital society."


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