US-Based Unaccredited HE Institutions in Viet Nam: A Look Back at the End of An Era

Here’s an excerpt from a 2016 book entitled Transnational Education Crossing “Asia” and “the West”:  Adjusted Desire by Le-Ha Phan, which mentions the work I’ve done to combat, counteract, and raise awareness about the activities of US-based rogue providers in Viet Nam and in general. 

Out of the many reported examples of problems and corrupt unethical activities in this sector, the media has circulated the work of Mark Ashwill, former director of IIE Vietnam (Institute of International Education) and currently working in Vietnam, who has identified the degree mills and no-name entities from America operating in Vietnam and as such alerted the stakeholders of the transnational sector to the consequences involved (Ashwill, 2010, 2012, Thanhniennews, 2012; Tuoitrenews, 2010).

Basic_sheep_75This is an issue I have been writing and speaking about since my IIE-Viet Nam days (2005-09).  In fact, it was one of my “signature issues” and one that I have continued to focus on from time to time.  (Check out my blog for more information and this article entitled Caveat Emptor! US Rogue Providers Discover Vietnam, which I wrote for the February 2011 issue of wRAP Up, A Newsletter for the Recruitment, Admission, and Preparation Knowledge Community.) 

If you read on, you’ll see that there’s not much work to do these days, at least in higher education, because of positive steps taken by the Vietnamese government nearly eight years ago.

The US exports some of the world’s best and worst higher education.  -MAA

This is a relevant quote I’ve used on occasion, referring not only to diploma mills but also to institutions that offer substandard education and training, and are basically money-making machines, regardless of status, i.e., for- or non-proft.  This includes nationally accredited (NA) institutions, many of which are in accreditation “no man’s land,” since the derecognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) last year.

To learn more about the context, check out this May 2016 BuzzFeed investigative report, which blew the lid off of this issue and led to the US Department of Education “derecognizing” ACICS, forcing all of its accredited schools to obtain new institutional accreditation by June 2018.  That decision remains unchanged to date, i.e,. in the new administration.  (Capstone, the company I work for, works exclusively with regionally accredited institutions in the US, the gold standard of institutional accreditation.  To my knowledge, it is the only company in Viet Nam and, possibly, the world with this policy.)

The Summer of Accreditation Discontent:  Seven (7) Years & Counting

While the issue of unaccredited schools still rears its ugly head from time to time, especially when it’s discovered that an embattled Vietnamese political or business leader has a degree (or two) from one of them, which spices up the scandal du jour, their heyday actually ended in August 2010 at the end of what I like to call the summer of accreditation discontent with extensive media coverage of this issue, including a widely publicized interview with me. 

That was when Dr. Nguyễn Xuân Vang, director of the International Education Development Department of the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) stated in an interview that unauthorized joint training programs are illegal and that the Ministry will not recognize the diplomas of programs offered in cooperation with unaccredited foreign partners.

(I’m) Not For Sale!

“Colleagues” from these edu-companies, you know, the kind of people that make you want to delouse after a short meeting, used a carrot and stick approach with me back in the day.  One example of the former was offering to fly me to Malaysia, business class, presumably, to “talk”, while the latter refers to the threat of legal action.  (As others have found out over the years, I’m not for sale and I don’t cave to threats.)

I like to think that I’ve cost these sleazebags millions of dollars in lost revenue in Viet Nam because of all of the media coverage of this issue and greater public awareness.