Another US varsity with hundreds of Indian students under scanner

July 29th, 2011 - 6:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 29 (IANS) Another US educational institution with hundreds of Indian students has come under the scanner with dozens of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raiding offices at the University of Northern Virginia.

Based in Annandale, a Washington suburb, it is an unaccredited, for-profit private university that calls itself the most popular American university for students from India.

Some 2,400 students of which 90 percent are from India, mostly from Andhra Pradesh, are registered at three locations in northern Virginia.

Agents Thursday removed boxes of documents from a building on Little River Turnpike where the university leases two suites.

However, unlike in the case of “sham” Tri-Valley University in California, US authorities have assured that the interests of Indian students would be protected.

Given the experience of TVU, the focus of investigations here is not the students, but the school, officials said making it clear that there would be no arrest, detention or electronic monitoring of students.

They also said that the university would not be immediately shut down as it has been given a months’ notice to explain.

The students have three options: continue at the university while it functions, seek transfer to another university or seek voluntary return to India.

The university temporarily can’t accept any foreign students, reads a notice posted on the door of the offices. UNVA students must leave the country immediately if they are unable “to continue to attend classes and maintain their active status in a manner required by federal government regulations”, the notice reads.

“Today, officials from ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP) served University of Northern Virginia officials with a Notice of Intent to Withdraw (NOIW) UNVA’s authorization to admit foreign students,” ICE spokeswoman Cori W. Bassett said in a statement.

The school was told it can no longer participate in that programme, but no specific reason was disclosed.

No charges have been filed nor people arrested but the school is being investigated to see whether it conforms to federal regulations for the administration of student visas. The school is not closed, and students can attend classes.

If the investigation discovers the school improperly handled student visas, the school could face severe penalties.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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