Silicon Valley University Suddenly Shut Down

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On April 5th, San Jose-based Silicon Valley University was informed by a state regulator that it can “no longer operate in California”, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The action taken by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education’s Department of Consumer Affairs is the latest in a series of bad news for Silicon Valley University:

December 7, 2017   The university’s accreditor – the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)[1]revoked Silicon Valley University’s accreditation.

December 27, 2017   With the support of the California state Department of Justice, the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education filed a complaint against the university, detailing 15 separate causes for discipline, relating to alleged violations of state regulations.

March 22, 2018   U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in which Silicon Valley University is characterized as a “suspect school” and potentially a “visa mill”. Grassley concluded with a long list of questions for DHS[2], an attempt to persuade the department to crack down on dubious schools like Silicon Valley University.

This is not the first time the university has been embroiled in controversy. Along with Northwestern Polytechnic University, a comparably suspect institution, Silicon Valley University earned notoriety in 2015 when a number of its admitted students were denied entry to the U.S. despite having obtained valid Visas. The Times of India did not hold back in its criticism at the time, stating that even “a cursory tour of the institutions and interviews with students points to a massive academic rip-off“.

According to last week’s San Francisco Chronicle article, Silicon Valley University is now required to come up with a closure plan, provide “students a list of schools they might transfer to, and refund their money within 45 days.” One has to wonder whether the university will have students’ best interests in mind during the closure process.

A message on the university home page acknowledges that it has been instructed “not to conduct any classes or exams at this time, effective immediately.” It goes on to state that this “is a developing situation and we will update you next week.” Students are also directed to contact the Student Office for further information.

Yet peculiarly enough, the contact e-mail address for the Student Office is that same as that for the university’s “International Consultant in Taiwan”: StudentOffice@svuca.edu

By consultant we can guess that means the university’s commissions-based international student recruitment agent. Assuming this is the same agent who steered many students to Silicon Valley University in the first place, students should think twice before reaching out, lest they find themselves pushed toward another school at risk of forced closure.

 

[1] ACICS itself is the subject of recent controversy. In December 2016 the U.S. Department of Education terminated ACICS’ recognition as an approved accreditor. Earlier this month the Department of Education, under the new U.S. Administration, restored ACICS’ recognition.

[2] DHS is responsible for the authorization of U.S. colleges and universities to issue the Form I-20 international students need to obtain and maintain an F-1 Student Visa.

 

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