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For-Profit College Execs Sentenced on Financial Aid, Visa Fraud Charges

Three senior for-profit college executives were sentenced Tuesday on charges related to student financial aid and student visa fraud, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced.

Suresh Hiranandaney, Lalit Chabria and Anita Chabria were all executives at either Micropower Career Institute (MCI), a for-profit with five campuses in New Jersey and New York, or the Institute for Health Education (IHE), a New Jersey-based for-profit institution. They were charged with defrauding the U.S. Department of Education of $1 million in grants awarded to domestic students. “As part of this fraud,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release, “they falsified and manipulated documents to hide MCI’s failure to timely return financial aid money received by MCI for domestic students who had dropped out of MCI.”

The three executives were also charged with making more than $7 million in profits from a visa fraud scheme in which they collected tuition from international students who were not attending classes as required under the terms of their student visas. “Hiranandaney, Lalit Chabria, Anita Chabria and others fraudulently portrayed MCI and IHE to immigration authorities as legitimate institutes of higher learning where foreign students carried full course loads,” the news release states. “In reality, the majority of foreign students at MCI and IHE did not attend the required number of classes.”

Hiranandaney, MCI’s president, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, as was Lalit Chabria, MCI’s chief executive officer and IHE’s president. Anita Chabria, MCI’s vice president and director of a MCI campus in Mineola, N.Y., was sentenced to six months of home confinement. U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken also ordered the three executives to pay $1 million in restitution for the financial aid fraud and forfeit $7,440,000 for the student visa fraud. Two other defendants in the case are scheduled to be sentenced later this year.

One of the two institutions, the Institute for Health Education, is still certified by the U.S. government to enroll international students.

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An American Shakespeare scholar, with new Ph.D. from British university, ends up detained over visa expiration

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Why is Britain trying to deport an American who just earned his Ph.D. at U of Birmingham?

Israeli Universities Get $100 Million for STEM Research

The businessman and newspaper publisher Mortimer Zuckerman has pledged more than $100 million over 20 years to fund science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related research at four Israeli universities, The Jewish Week reported. The Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program is two pronged: a postdoctoral scholars program is intended to attract researchers from the U.S. and other Western countries, while a faculty scholars program is planned to bring back Israeli academics living abroad.

“We are pleased and grateful to have Mort Zuckerman as a partner in advancing two top national priorities in Israel -- reversing brain drain and deepening the Israeli-American friendship,” Joseph Klafter, the president of Tel Aviv University, one of the four participating institutions, said in a statement.

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Documents Show U of British Columbia Board's Displeasure in Ex-President

Newly released documents show tensions between the University of British Columbia's Board of Governors and former President Arvind Gupta. Gupta resigned suddenly last August just one year into a five-year term.

The independent news outlet UBC Insiders first reported on the documents, unredacted versions of which were included, seemingly by accident, as attachments to an otherwise heavily redacted records release made by the university earlier this week.

In one of the documents, a letter following up on a meeting that occurred May 18, John Montalbano, the former board chair, describes Gupta's first year as president as "an unsettled one. Relationships with key stakeholder groups, notably your senior executive, the faculty deans and the Board of Governors, are not at functional levels to allow you to move forward in a confident manner -- unusual even for an organization undergoing strategic shifts in vision and key personnel."

The letter continues: "The Executive Committee of the Board has identified key aspects of your leadership style and management skills which require a 'course correction' in order for you to lead the university effectively." Among the issues identified in that letter was a lack of trust between Gupta and other senior leaders.

"You are rarely seen to solicit or seek advice from those best positioned to support you," Montalbano wrote to Gupta. "You are deemed too quick to engage in debate in a confrontational or dismissive manner, which is demoralizing to a group of executives in fear of their employment security. Members of the Board of Governors have also experienced similar interactions in and out of formal settings."

In a June 8 letter, Gupta affirms the importance of creating "an atmosphere of professional trust among decision makers and stakeholders" and stated his objective of making UBC among the top 10 public universities in the world.

"Moving UBC into the top 10 will take time, focus and energy," Gupta wrote. "This includes honest dialogue with attentive listening to a wide variety of UBC stakeholders, of which the board, senate, executive and other senior leadership are clearly an essential part. Also important are staff, students, faculty, alumni and donors. I have had regular meetings with student leadership groups, as well as with staff in various fora including, most recently, a staff lunch," Gupta wrote.

"As you know, I have also been meeting with faculty (and will continue to do so) in every department across the two campuses, a first for a recent UBC president. With over 70 percent of departments and units visited to date, I’ve been encouraged by the enthusiastic support I have received from many faculty for a dedicated refocusing of resources on the core academic mission of the university: research, teaching and learning."

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Judge Grants Extension of Work Program for International Students

The current rule governing a popular postgraduation work program for international students will remain in place until May 10.

The regulation governing the STEM OPT program, which grants students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields the right to spend an additional 17 months working in the U.S. on top of the 12 months available to all international students, was set to expire Feb. 12 after a federal judge ruled the regulation invalid on procedural grounds. In a decision issued Saturday, however, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle granted the Department of Homeland Security’s request that the ruling be stayed for an additional 90 days, which the agency argued would give it time to implement a new proposed rule for the program and prevent disruption or hardship for participating students and employers.

“The significance of that hardship cannot be overstated,” Judge Huvelle wrote. “According to DHS, there are approximately 23,000 STEM OPT participants, 2,300 dependents of STEM OPT participants, 8,000 pending applications for STEM OPT extensions and 434,000 foreign students who might be eligible to apply for STEM OPT authorizations … If the stay is not extended, many of these people would be adversely affected, either by losing their existing work authorization, not being able to apply for the OPT extension or not knowing whether they will be able to benefit from the extension in the future. And of course, the U.S. tech sector will lose employees, and U.S. educational institutions could conceivably become less attractive to foreign students.”

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U of Virginia Student Detained in North Korea

A University of Virginia student is being detained in North Korea for allegedly committing an unspecified “hostile act” against the state, The Washington Post reported. Otto Frederick Warmbier was detained Jan. 2 after participating in a five-day trip organized by Young Pioneer Tours.

An account in North Korean state media accused Warmbier of having entered the country “for the purpose of bringing down the foundation of its single-minded unity at the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its ma­nipu­la­tion.”

A U.S. State Department spokesman said the agency is aware of media reports that an American citizen has been detained and that it is working with the Swedish embassy, which represents U.S. interests in North Korea. “The welfare of U.S. citizens is one of the department’s highest priorities,” said Mark Toner, the department's deputy spokesman.

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How end of China's one-child policy could affect women and higher education

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When parents have more than one child, experts fear sons will receive more support for education.

Attack on Pakistan's Bacha Khan University Kills 20

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Twenty killed in assault on Bacha Khan University, the latest attack on an educational institution in a country that has suffered more than any other.

Taliban Kills 19 at University in Pakistan

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for killing at least 19 people at Bacha Khan University, in Pakistan, The New York Times reported. Among the dead are two female students, a senior faculty member and four guards. Gunmen reportedly scaled walls that surround the university and started opening fire.

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Bribes and Sex to Get Into a French University?

A former president of a French university went on trial Monday over charges that he admitted some Chinese students for bribes and/or sex, The Telegraph reported, based on accounts in Le Monde. The charges concern the time Laroussi Oueslati was president of Institut d’Administration des Entreprises, in Toulon. He was forced out of that position after the scandal broke in 2009. Court documents indicate that many of the Chinese students allegedly admitted for bribes or "intimate relations" could not speak French and thus should have been rejected. Oueslati has denied the charges, telling the judge, "I am not corrupt."

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