Much to my chagrin, I noticed that IIE permitted Jose Maria Vargas University, a nationally accredited (NA) school based in Florida, to join its US higher education fairs in Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). This in spite of the fact that IIE guidelines state that “Only regionally accredited (RA) two-year, four-year and graduate U.S. institutions may be represented at the IIE Fairs.”
I’m not sure whether it’s an oversight on IIE’s part or a change in policy. (I hope it’s the former.) I do know that the Vietnamese students and parents who attend these fairs trust IIE and believe all of the participating schools to be quality institutions.
I also know that other NA schools would think they had died and gone to heaven if they could have greater access to the market here and elsewhere, especially with the credibility, honor by association and prestige of being side-by-side with their distant RA (gold standard) cousins – mutts among purebreds, so to speak. Having spoken to some representatives of RA schools that joined this particular fair series, I know that the feeling is not mutual.
As anyone who knows US higher education is well aware, there is absolutely no comparison between regional and national accreditation in terms of standards and quality. My favorite example is another nationally accredited school in Santa Rosa, CA called the Bergin University of Canine Studies, where you can earn a degree in Cynology (i.e., the study of dogs). No, I’m not kidding. In fact, JMVU and Bergin are accredited by the same organization, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS.).
As I mentioned in a July 2010 blog post entitled Nationally Accredited U.S. Institutions with a Vietnam Connection, ACICS also accredits such schools as the Golden State College of Court Reporting & Captioning, Golf Academy of America, ITT Technical Institute, Kaplan Career Institute, and the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.
Just a quick glance at JMVU’s website leaves one with the distinct impression that it’s just another money-making machine masquerading as an institution of higher education.
I sincerely hope that Jose Maria Vargas University’s participation in the IIE US higher education fairs was an aberration and not a nasty precedent for future fairs. Vietnam does not need any more low and no standard US schools with dollar signs in their eyes, flowery rhetoric and professed good intentions notwithstanding.