“Hillary Clinton promises Green Card to STEM F-1 visa students who graduate with a Master’s/doctoral degree”

Photo courtesy of The American Bazaar

Now THAT’S a headline you don’t see every day.  (Follow this link to read the article from which it was taken.)  While the current anti-immigrant, anti-foreign climate in the US is not ideal for these types of proposals, I’m pleased to see that this issue is (still) being discussed.

The notion that certain international students who study in the US should be allowed to remain after graduation, should they so desire, is not a new one.  President Obama has alluded to it in a couple of State of the Union speeches and even Donald Trump has mentioned it.

Instead of limiting permanent resident status to international STEM graduates with a Master’s or Ph.D. degree, why not include any international student who wishes to remain in the US for the long term?  After all, deciding where to work, live and, possibly, emigrate to is a personal decision.  Besides, the US population is graying (median age:  37.8 vs. 29.7 for the world), and the economy needs a certain percentage of international graduates to remain, regardless of field of study.  As with other well-educated immigrants, they generally make the US a better place on so many levels.

Why not reform student visa policy, following in the footsteps of competitor countries such as Australia and Canada, and base visa issuances on one criterion:  ability to pay.  By issuing an I-20, admitting institutions have already made a determination that they are bona fide students and their post-study plans are a personal decision.  (Many don’t even know what they’ll be doing and many others simply jump through the necessary hoops and say what the interviewing consular wants and needs to hear about returning to their home country.)

Growing numbers of Vietnamese students are returning home because Viet Nam has become a land of economic opportunity in many fields.  Others relocate to a third country for employment.  Still others remain in the US for the long term, again for employment and other reasons, e.g., marriage to a US national.


California South University: Fraud Alert!

Here’s another less-than-stellar California-based institution of higher education.  Note:  “California South University” is not to be confused with “California Southern University”, which has institutional accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC/regional) and the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC/national).

As you can see on the 29.6.16 screenshots below, CSU makes two claims:  1)  it is accredited by the DETC, now known as the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC); and 2) it is “in the process of being an accredited Member of the Distance Education and Training Council…”  Neither assertion is true.  (If you don’t believe me, check with DEAC yourself.)

If you Google “california south university vietnam”, one of the first results, if not the first, is this blog post of mine from January 2011 entitled “where can i buy an accredited overseas phd?”  The second post in that series was uploaded a month later:  “CSU” Reprise (aka The Other Shoe Just Dropped).

cal south detc

cal south univ

Why are schools like CSU allowed to exist?  Because the “free market” is too free, the system is broken,  no one’s jamming their transmission and, at the end of the day, no one’s minding the store.  The US Department of Education has a lot of work to do, which it should be doing on a systematic rather than a piecemeal basis a la Northwestern Polytechnic University, the result of superb investigative reporting by BuzzFeed.


1st Viet Nam Strategic Recruitment Retreat

retreat group pic (Hung)

My staff and I recently organized a Strategic Recruitment Retreat in Phan Thiet for a select group of US higher education colleagues representing four-year institutions, both public and private, and community colleges from seven (7) states. What they have in common is their desire to welcome more Vietnamese students to their campuses and communities.

The retreat was how I envisioned it – a rare opportunity and chance to spend quality time with colleagues with different levels of knowledge and experience who are interested in learning more about Viet Nam and student recruitment here in both formal and informal settings.  It was a wonderful learning experience for all of us.

Sessions touched on the following topics:  a country update that placed demand for overseas study in societal context, student and parent expectations and reality, visa counseling vs. scripting, digital and traditional marketing, use of education agents (partner beware!), the role of high schools in promoting overseas study, the role of departments of education and training, 30+ possible ways to succeed in the Vietnamese student recruitment market, and a wrap-up discussion that dealt with developing custom-designed recruitment strategies and included consultations.

We also had several guest speakers, including colleagues from a department of education and training (DoET), one of Viet Nam’s top high schools, and a Vietnamese student currently studying in the US.

Thanks to the participants and guests for taking time out of their busy schedules to join us in this exciting “pilot project” and to my staff for their hard work and contributions to the success of this event. I’m also grateful to Study in the USA, a partner and corporate sponsor, who organized a lucky draw, the winner of which sent a representative to participate in the retreat.

MAA on behalf of Capstone Vietnam

Vietnam Records 11% Increase from 3/15 to 3/16

There are currently 1.18 million F (academic student visa) & M (vocational/nonacademic) students currently studying in the US, an increase of 6.2% from March 2015. Vietnam had the 2nd highest increase in the world at 11.1%, after India (31.1%).

There are currently 29,101 Vietnamese studying in the US at all levels, mostly in higher education, making Vietnam the 6th largest sending country.  The top ten “places of origin” are:

    1. China:  353,069 (+7.9%)
    2. India:  194,438 (+31.1%)
    3. S. Korea:  78,489 (-7.8%)
    4. Saudi Arabia:  71,655 (-11.1%)
    5. Canada:  31,243  31886  (-2%)
    6. VIETNAM:  29,101  (+11.1%)
    7. Japan:  24,452 (-4.2%)
    8. Taiwan:  23,137 (+1%)
    9. Brazil:  18,873 (+.8% – from 2/15)
    10. Mexico:  17,453  (-18.8% – from 2/15)

Note:  China has nearly as many students as the next seven (7) countries combined. 77% of all international students in the US are from Asia.

top 10 countries 3-16.jpg

Among Vietnamese students studying in the US, the top four (4) types of institutions and programs are as follows:

  • Four-year schools:  30.4%
  • Two-year schools:  28.9%
  • Secondary schools:  12.2%
  • Language training:  11.9%
  • MA programs:  8.3%

SEVIS 3-16 Vietnam ed level breakdown

There are quite a few more females (55%) than males (45%).

SEVIS 3-16 Vietnam gender breakdown.jpg

Finally, there are Vietnamese students in all 50 states with the fewest (4) in Alaska, plus one (1) in Guam.  The top five (5) states are:

CA:  6158
TX:  5161
WA:  2406
MA:  1568
NY:  1247

sevis 3-16 vn student population by state

Follow this link to read the ICE press release in its entirety.


“These Obscure Colleges Sign Up Thousands Of Foreign Students With Little Oversight”

Both Northwestern Polytechnic and Silicon Valley University are accredited, a distinction that allows colleges with many foreign students to avoid the most stringent oversight. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s student visa program depends on the accreditation system: it requires less documentation from accredited schools that want authorization to admit foreign students than it asks of unaccredited schools.


Not All Types of Accreditation Are Created Equal

This is ironic because accredited institutions are supposed to be held to a higher standard.  Of course, there are different levels of accreditation and different types of accreditors.  National accreditation (NA), the category into which both NPU and SVU fall, is not to be confused with regional accreditation (RA), considered to be the gold standard.  NA is much easier and much less expensive to obtain.  While most NA entities are for-profit online and career schools, quite a few are nonprofits, which gives them more legitimacy, in the eyes of many.

Once an institution receives accreditation and it obtains SEVP Certification, which gives it the authority to issue I-20s, it can pretty much run on autopilot until a scandal of some sort surfaces in the media.  The article on which this post is based is Exhibit A.

Truth in Advertising?

Another point, which I’ve mentioned on many occasions, is the fact that most RA schools do not accept credits or credentials from NA schools, for obvious reasons.  This means if a NPU or SVU students want to transfer, they must start over again, in most cases.  This is also an issue that the US government – through EducationUSA – must address sooner rather than later, since EdUSA represents all “officially accredited” US colleges and universities.

$how Me The Money! 

Here’s one of the money paragraphs in the article, pun intended.

Thanks to its huge surge in enrollment, NPU took in $40 million in 2014, and spent $12 million — leaving it with a $28 million surplus…

Hmm, let’s see.  Revenue of $40 million with $12 million in expenses and a $28 million surplus translates into a 70% profit margin.   Nonprofits are also tax-exempt, if I’m not mistaken, which means that’s $28 mill tax-free.   Not too shabby.  In addition, the value of NPU’s assets jumped from $46.53 million to $75.32 million in 2014.  Also not too shabby.  In fact, that’s one hell of a business model.

Speaking of tax-exempt, NPU might want to find someone to proofread their 990 form.  Here are some excerpts from the 2014 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax:




Who’s Minding the Store?

From a colleague who shares my concerns about this issue:

  1. What are the odds students are told up front about the RA vs NA distinction?
  2. What are the odds students are being introduced to quality options?

These are rhetorical questions.  You know the answers, sadly.

Where are the referrals coming from?  You know where.  From education agents whose primary, or exclusive, concern is money and how much they can make – pronto.  These are what one colleague referred to as “bottom feeding agents.”  Students who attend these types of universities generally fall into two categories:  1)  those who think it’s something that it’s not because an agent sells them a bill of goods (they show up, discover the deception and look for quality transfer opportunities); and 2) those whom a well-known colleague aka accreditation expert calls “willing co-conspirators,” who – with a wink and a nod – go, pay 20k a year (tuition/fees only) and wait for the chance to work and eventually emigrate. The latter know the score.

As one colleague put it, “It’s a great illustration of how lax oversight by the US government perpetuates agent misconduct and gives professionals of all stripes a bad name in the process. ”

Easy as Pie

These schools know which hoops to jump through & which buttons to push (we’re legal, we’re accredited, we’re American!).  Meanwhile, too many student visa applications are being denied because the interviewing consular officers think or feel that the young people standing on the other side of the window, most of whom have letters of admission and I-20s from RA institutions, might be trying to use the F1 to emigrate.

In addition to the article, check out both university websites and form your own opinion.  Note that the new president of NPU is the son of the former and first president.  That’s called keeping it in the family.  In 2014, President George Hsieh earned $299,792 and his son, Peter, then Executive Vice President and Officer, earned $257,292.

Follow this link to read the article in its entirety.  A Vietnamese translation is forthcoming.  And the truth will set you free.  Stay tuned!

Finally, kudos to BuzzFeed reporters, Molly Hensley-Clancy and Brendan Klinkenberg!  I should probably create a series entitled Set Thine House in Order, which I kicked off with a recent post about mass shootings and study in the USA.


Bonus:  Here’s a 23 December 2015 article from The Times of India entitled ‘University of Manavallu’: In Silicon Valley, a dodgy Chinese-Telugu alliance.


June 2016 Vietnam Strategic Recruitment Retreat

I’m pleased to announce that I will lead a Strategic Recruitment Retreat (SRR) in Phan Thiết, Vietnam from 17-19 June for colleagues whose institutions have targeted Vietnam as a high recruitment priority.  The purpose of the retreat is to give them the tools they need in terms of knowledge, insights and strategy in order to increase their chances of success in recruiting Vietnamese students in what has become a highly competitive market in recent years.  Colleagues can either come after the ICEF Thailand-Vietnam Agent Roadshow or attend on a stand-alone basis.  I’m delighted to welcome Study in the USA as an event sponsor. 

Follow this link for detailed information and online registration.


Vietnamese student numbers growing in the US

Below is an excerpt from my recent University World News (UWN) article.  Follow this link to read the article in its entirety.


Top 10 Countries of Citizenship 11-15

There are currently 1.2 million international students studying in the United States, nearly 75% of whom are enrolled in bachelor, masters or doctoral programmes. California, New York and Texas enrol 36% of all students. Some 919,484 of them, or 77% of the total, are from Asia. Compared to July 2015, the total number of active international students studying in the US increased 13.3%.

These figures are from the latest SEVIS by the Numbers quarterly update published in December. Unlike the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors statistics, which are based on data collected the previous year and include higher education enrolment only, SEVIS data are real-time and encompass all levels of the educational system.

Spotlight on Vietnam

One of the shining highlights of the SEVIS report is the breakneck growth in Vietnamese enrolments at all levels of the US educational system, especially at its colleges and universities.

Vietnam has surpassed Japan in total enrolment. It recorded an astounding 18.9% increase from July to November 2015, the third highest after India (20.7%) and China (19.4%).

Incredibly, Vietnam now ranks sixth among all sending countries with 28,883 students studying at US institutions, mostly colleges and universities but also boarding and day schools.

Vietnam is also nipping at the heels of Canada, something that was unimaginable seven years ago when it was not even in the top 10. It climbed to eighth place in 2009 with 15,994 students and stayed there until the end of 2015.

The US has surpassed Australia in terms of numbers of Vietnamese students as there were 28,524 Vietnamese students studying in Australia at all levels as of October 2015, a 0.4% decrease over the previous year.

Interestingly, 54.7% of all Vietnamese students in the US are female and 45.3% male. That’s a difference of nearly 2,700 students.

In terms of degree-related programmes, the breakdown is as follows:

  • Language Training: 12.9% (3,732)
  • Associate: 27.9% (8,050)
  • Bachelor: 31.1% (8,976)
  • Masters: 8.1% (2,330)
  • Doctorate: 4% (1,159)