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Who Regulates US Colleges and Universities?

“Is this a good school?”

This is one of the primary worries of overseas parents. In the debate over the use of agents in recruiting students, we often forget this concern. With our rich tradition of high school advisors and overall sense of what makes a quality school, this seems to be a minor concern in the United States. Overseas, however, it isn’t. To be successful at recruiting students overseas, schools must realize that the environment will differ greatly from the one at home. Traditional schools must also realize that they are competing in a very commercial arena.

In the United States, education has become big business. American ideals such as Capitalism and Free Enterprise have brought great amounts of investment and innovation to higher education and opened doors to millions of students who, in the resource-constrained public education sector, may not have had such opportunities. A number of for-profit companies have been formed to serve as universities, some operating nationally. These companies have begun serving the adult student sector, created a vibrant online model for higher education, and started to look toward extending their success internationally.

Who Regulates Schools?

School regulation in the United States is a complex subject, as there is no constitutional right to an education, thus education laws have come from fifty separate state governments. To provide consistency across the country, the schools themselves have built a rich history of self-governance through the process of accreditation and professional standards. In recent years, the role of the United States federal government has grown. The Department of Education continues to put regulations in effect that, in essence, become the law of the land, though large gaps still exist and leave the system open to exploitation.

Substandard Universities

One of these levels of exploitation comes from the Diploma Mills that have plagued the American higher education system for years. With a growing number of international students, lack of regulation poses a threat to unsuspecting foreign students. Substandard schools are able to operate, as many states do not require inspections and operational reviews before issuing licenses. Once these schools are legally licensed to operate, the federal government allows issuance of student visas. Substandard schools often form their own accrediting bodies to avoid the scrutiny of regional accreditation, the highest level of accreditation, which has enabled a number of bogus accreditors to operate over the years.

Imagine you are a foreign student, browsing the Internet for schools, and you discover this – “The University of Northern Virginia is certified to operate in Virginia by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). UNVA is authorized by the United States Government to enroll non-immigrant alien students.” With the very desirable location “Northern Virginia” and the well-respected moniker “university,” you naturally might be inclined to consider this school. This could lead to an unfortunate experience, as The University of Northern Virginia has been described as a “sham university,” though this institution continues to operate and accept government-approved student visas. The University of Northern Virginia seems to be the worst of the for-profit sector, operating in between the gaps in the American regulatory system and making millions off foreign students.

From the consumer perspective, the United States government has taken little or no interest in The University of Northern Virginia. No federal money goes to this school; no taxpayer money is at risk. As long as the University of Northern Virginia follows state laws, immigration officials will remain uninvolved unless they detect risk of a migration scam and the free enterprise advocates in the government’s commercial service will resist any restraint of the institution. In a previous article, AAE called on schools to only work with certified agents. We also call on our fellow agents to only work with credible, accredited (certified) schools, and for the United States government to only allow legitimately accredited schools to issue I-20′s (the documents that lead to student visas).

Mark Shay is a business developer with a long history of success helping higher education institutions recruit students. In an illustrative career that has spanned three decades, Shay has served thousands of customers, ranging from individual faculty members and graduate deans, to university presidents and foreign governments. He is well known for balancing the non-commercial spirit of educators with the commercial realities of operating efficiently and effectively using technology to improve results. He founded StudyAbroad.com, GradSchools.com and has worked in leadership roles at two universities and IDP Education. He has recently started a consulting practice and is serving as an advisor to AAE. Mark is also the editor of ChinaTrend: Insights into the Higher Education market in China

1 Comment
  1. Dear Mr. Shay,

    It all started with the letter that I sent Dr. Whittle about starting my practicum at her counseling facility (letter enclosed in the mail that I sent you). She had not done any background checks yet or drug test. I could not get in touch by phone and Dr. Whittle would not return my phone calls. I had a choice of two facilities, Bon Secuors Hospice and The Department Of Correction.
    I asked Dr. Miller if she would find me another site, per Dr. Welch, in January 2013. She looks at me if to say, “I did it once and you turned it down”. Not knowing that I knew that Dr. Whittle did not have enough clients at the time.
    Also, when Dr. Miller accuse me of lying to Dr. Whittle (include in the fax I received from Dr. Welch). I ask for an apology. Instead of apologizing she said “that’s the power differential”. How rude to say that to a person you have called a liar. Having a PH. D does not give anyone a right to call me a liar and not apologize. I still want an apology.
    My internship at the CWDDC is in Chesterfields, Virginia. It is a 15-20 drive, depending on the traffic. I live in Chesterfield. The Atmore building, where I would meet with Dr. Williams for supervision is 3 minutes from my home and Dr. Williams offered to pick me up if my car broke down. .
    I started at the Chesterfield Women’s Diversion and Detention Center in July 2012. My practicum went well. I was only shadowing Shen-Fen Lee. I start my internship Oct 14, 2012.
    On November 9, 2012 Shen-Fen Lee told Dr. Williams, Dr. Miller, and Dr. Welch that I did not know how to perform assessment or diagnose.
    Dr. Byrd, I just started doing assessments. As a matter of fact, 3 weeks into my internship is not a sufficient amount of time to make that decision. During my practicum I did one or two assessments.
    From October 15th until November 9, 2012, I performed over eight assessment. I got all of them correct. I even diagnose some of the women with personality disorders. Shen-Fen Lee told me that she did not know anything about personality disorder, so she ruled them out.
    The CWDDC had started using a questionnaire and it was up to the probation officers to use it for every inmate. Before the questionnaires, Shen would do an assessment on inmate. Now, she only had to do as assessment if the inmates answered yes to certain question, which cut the amount of work for Shen in half. She did not tell me until later that the one personality disorder she did diagnosed came from the questionnaire. I was doing assessment from scratch and she was doing them from the PSI and questionnaire.
    After Shen told the two professor and Dr. Williams that I did not know how to do assessments or diagnose, I stayed on at the CWDDC until the end of the quarter, which was December 12, 2013 and started studying right away. .
    After my classes were over, Dr. Williams held a meeting with all QMHP’s on December 15, 2012 and I was included. I like and respect Dr. Williams very much. After the meeting I asked for help doing case conceptualizations. She stated that Shen could help me. Dr. Williams said that I should let her while I had the chance. Shen and Dr. Williams said that I should do 80 hours of internship and not count it towards my internship hours. At the time it sounded like a good idea. Apparently She and Shen had talked about it and about the case conceptualization before hand. When we met at Kroger she already had a case study ready. She threw the case study at me and said “you have 3 hours to complete a case conceptualization. Now, how rude can she be. It was 4:30 on December 15, 2012. Shen had to be back at CWDDC 5:45. From the beginning I have asked someone to explain to me how to case conceptualize. I was asking for help from everyone and no one could help me. I ask Shen how she expected me to do something in three hours that I don’t understand and she only had an hour left before she had to be back at the CWDDC. I told her that I could get it to her the weekend. She said “don’t worry about it, I will not be able to read it until next week”. I emailed it to her on Monday December 18, 2012. I called her and she said “ I will not be able to read it until after the beginning of the new year”. After she said that, I really knew that she did not want to help me.
    On the winter break, Dr. Welch decided that I should take abnormal psychology again and volunteer to take the beginning counseling interview class (I had received an A or B from both classes). A few weeks later, she told me that I could not take the abnormal psychology. She told me to take the midterm and the final for the abnormal psychology the following quarter, volunteer to take her beginners counseling skills class every Saturday, take a quarter of from my internship, do 80 hours of internship but it would not count towards my internship hours and take the Family Therapy class in January.
    The reason Shen gave for wanting me to do 80 hours of internship and not count it toward my internship hour was that, I worried about my internship hours too much. I emailed Shen and told her that I have 13 days that the children are out of school January-March and could we work with those day? She said no. Now, Shen and Dr. Welch know that I don’t work in the summer. I also made them both aware that I was receiving $135 a week unemployment from the 2nd week in September until I went back to work December 18, 2012. I earn $80 a day as a substitute teacher. I can not afford to take an extra 80 hours off from work. They didn’t seem to have any empathy for my situation. The analogy that Dr. Campbell gave for me about the 80 hour was “if someone told me that he could get 80 hours of free parachute jumping I would take it”.
    It was nice of Shen to say that she would train me. But, she did not want to compromise. This is another reason why I did not think that I should go back and be trained under Shen. She and I were not a good match. Also, Dr Miller, Dr. Welch, nor Dr. Williams came to the CWDDC to observe me.
    When I emailed Dr. Campbell I was trying to say it in a nice way, that I did not want to got back to CWDDC. I accidentally emailed the letter to Dr. Williams and Shen. Because of the accident, Dr. Williams decided that I would need to reapply to CWDDC. I called her to apologizing because the letter was not for her and Shen. I was not pulled from the site.
    Dr. Welch called me very upset and said “I was not going to take you to the PPC, but now I am”.
    When I met with Dr. Campbell and Dr. Welch he said to me “do you want to be in the same position that Dr. Welch is in one day” I said yes. He said “who do you think I am going to believe, you or Dr Welch” I said “Dr. Welch. After he made that statement, I stopped trying to tell them what happen. That is when I said to myself “don’t waste my breath”. They kept insisting that Shen was right. There was nothing else for me to say.
    Dr. Welch registered me for the Family Therapy class for the winter quarter. Now I have another hold on me record, they want me to do an exit interview, and I can’t register. This is the second hold that was put on my records by Dr. Welch. I feel like they are playing with my life. When I went to register and found another hold on my record I decided that it was time for a ride to Savannah, GA. Also, I had ask Dr. Welch if I could register for the 400 internship back in June she told me that South does not have 400 hour internship. I have a 400 internship and one class left with Dr. Harrison. I want to graduate on time. I truly believed that I past all three parts to the comps. It took 4 each to read and type my case conceptualizations. I bought two books on case conceptualization to study because no on could explain it. There is no way that I did not pass.
    I received an average on all parts except for one below average (enclosed in the letters I sent).
    I would like to see my paper. I want proof that I did not pass. Too much has happen at South for me to trust what Dr. Miller or Dr. Welch say. Also, Dr. Welch told me that I did better than most of the individual that took the comps with me on February 2nd & 9th 201 3.
    Anything we talk about in internship and practicum session were supposed to be confidential. Dr. Welch gave a copy and read my confidential journals to Dr. Campbell and others. I was talking to Dean Batten about the email I mistakenly sent and she said “I heard”. I was shocked. So this means that my name was around the school before the meeting with the PPC and people had a copy of my journal when it was supposed to be confidential. When I talk to Dr. Welch, she tell Dr. Miller and Dr. Miller does not mine letting you know. I tried to talk to Dr. Miller after I took the written comp and she looked at me with a blank stare and said “tell it to a therapist”.
    I have a 2 LPC,s who are willing to train me and I would like to go to one of their facilities.
    When you read the remediation plan you’ll see that I didn’t talk very much. The one thing I said about stubbornness, they took that way out of context. It would be real silly for me to use that word in front of the board, in that context. What I meant by “stubbornness” was, “no one is going to pee on me and tell me it’s raining”.
    I did not see Dr. Williams or Shen after 12/15/12. If you would read my evaluation from Shen and Dr. William, they said I was good at taking feedback. I haven’t had a class with Dr. Welch since December 12, 2012. My last evaluation from her is that I was excellent and I received an “A”. The only thing that got Dr. Welch and Dr. Campbell upset was my refusal to do 80 hours at the CWDDC. They wanted me to do 80 hours without counting towards my internship hours.
    As far as being unprofessional, to say that about me is an insult. I did home visit for 3 years for the Marion County Health Department in Indianapolis, In, I was a charge nurse and responsible for over 100 patients and 4-5 nurses aids, in public relations for over 6 years where I traveled all over the U. S. reimplementing the Tax Credit Program to owners and managers for UPS, KFC, Toys r Us and many others, and I am a pianist and a choir director.
    To talk about my not being ethical is another insult. I am a graduate from Indiana University Pursue University of Indianapolis and have never in my 55 years have I been talked about, mistreated, and humiliated as much as I have at South.
    I have Dr. Miller holding a grudge against me because I did not accept the practicum with Dr. Whittle and Dr. Welch and Dr. Campbell are upset that I had the audacity to turn down an internship where I would do 80 hours and not be able to count in toward my internship and these are the people that are grading my written comps. Also, Dr. Harrison and I are the same age, of all people she should know that any grade that she gives, if the student ask, she should be able to show that student their written work. Now, I am going to take management with Dr. Harrison, hopefully, in April. What I hear, is the project that I will doing, is the same project that I had in Clinical Mental Health, but instead of 1 person we will have a group of 3-4. I need to know where I went wrong and like she offered, should be able to bring my grade from a C to an B from that class.
    I went before the PPC before the results came back about the comp. You would think that after they saw that I pass all three sections, that they would realize that they were wrong, that Shen was wrong, and register me for my last 400 hours of internship and my last class with Dr. Harrison. The reason that I don’t mention Dr. Williams is that she is a sweet lady. We met 2 hours a week during my practicum supervision. She tried get me caught up to the place where the Department Of Correction would expect a Master degree to student to be before they could hire me.
    There is no reason for me not to graduate on time. I did not get pull from the site, I did not want to go back to the site. There is a such thing as autonomy.
    Since my final evaluation with Dr. Welch and Dr. Williams, and the understanding that they thought that I needed to increase my proficiency in diagnostic I did the following :
    1. I met with Dr. Miller for 4 hour for 2 days in January 2013 to study for the comps (not case conceptualization)
    2. I brought three books (1) DSM-1V TM Case Book: A Learning Companion To the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (2) Case Conceptualization: Mastering this Competency with Ease and Confidence by Len Sperry and Jonathan Sperry (3) A Format for Case Conceptualization By Steven, Michael J., Morris, Steven J., Counseling Education & Supervision, September 1995, Vol. 35, Issue 1(4) Case Conceptualization and Treatment Planning: Exercises for Integrating Theory with Clinical Practice by Pearl S. Berman. The 3 books were purchased December 20, 2012 and I studied 4-5 hours a day (Dr. Miller and Dr. Welch could not teach case conceptualization)
    3. Sat out from my internship for the winter quarter
    Based on my comprehensive exam that I recently completed, I feel that the time I dedicated to private studies has been very useful.
    Who do I talk to in regards to this problem?

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