Following the recent sting operation conducted by US Homeland Security department officials, several foreign students are worried about their colleges.

US fake university row How to check if your college is real and accredited Image for representation.
news Education Tuesday, February 05, 2019 - 14:14

A recent sting operation undertaken by the United States Department of Homeland Security officials has left hundreds of students, several of whom are from India, unsure of what the future holds for them. Officials had created a fake university to lure students who wanted to stay in the country after their visas had expired as part of a ‘pay-to-stay’ scheme. The website and social media pages of the University of Farmington had been created by officials and had been elaborately set up in order to attract students and recruiters who brought in the students overstaying their visas. Given this, how does one ensure that the university they have secured a seat in is legitimate? What are the steps to take to ascertain the accreditation of your college?

TNM brings you a small checklist of things to keep in mind.

The first thing that students should be aware of is to keep an eye out for lesser known universities which boast of accreditation and sounds “too good to be true.” Most colleges require only one official regional or national accreditation in order to be able to offer students government-aided scholarships and financial assistance. In addition, if a university offers degrees which can be completed in a short period of time, more research should be done about the same. Alternatively, if the college offers degrees which can be earned purely through work experience without needing to take any classes, that is definitely a ‘red flag’.

Other basic things which should be taken into account are the school’s address, location, and other such contact details. The University of Farmington allegedly had a P.O. box number, but no official address. Furthermore, the college building was not that of a typical university. A small building with two rooms was all that stood as a testament to the existence of the university.

The authenticity of a university can also be determined using the Department of Education’s website. A list of recognised accrediting agencies is listed on the website. Cross-reference the accreditation institute listed on your college’s page, and compare it with the ones on the Department of Education’s page to see whether your university has received its credibility from one of these well-known agencies. In addition to the above, it is also a good idea to take a look at the website of the agency which has provided the accreditation to your college or university. This will give you a better idea about the school’s credentials. Another step that can be taken is to check the website of the state, accrediting, or professional agency to see if your college is listed.

The department of education also lists secondary and postgraduate schools with standard accreditation. Standard colleges and universities adhere to the Higher Education Act (HEA) which was passed by the Congress in 1965. The HEA made sure that the accreditors of universities would ensure the quality of the curriculum being taught in the respective college courses. The HEA, intended to make sure that quality of education as well as the financial means to sustain the education, were assured to all the students attending a college.

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