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'Suspect' California University Shut Down

April 23, 2018
 
 

A California institution that a U.S. senator recently characterized as a suspected “visa mill” has shut down after state authorities revoked its certificate to operate. A notice on Silicon Valley University’s website says it has been notified by California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education “not to conduct any classes or exams at this time, effective immediately.”

A spokeswoman for the California bureau said that Silicon Valley's approval to operate expired upon the loss of its accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Independent Colleges and Schools. ACICS – a troubled accreditor in its own right -- reports on its website that Silicon Valley lost its accreditation in December after it failed to submit a required annual financial report and audited financial statements.

Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, recently sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in which he singled out Silicon Valley as one among a group of “suspect schools” that bring thousands of foreign students to the U.S. each year.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Silicon Valley recently enrolled nearly 4,000 students, mostly from foreign countries. The institution, which has nonprofit, tax-exempt status, reported $30.5 million in revenue in 2016, only $11 million of which was used on salaries and other expenses.

The Chronicle also reported that Silicon Valley is embroiled in legal battles involving allegations that the divorced husband and wife pair who founded the school, Feng-Min “Jerry” Shiao and Mei Hsin “Seiko” Cheng, used university funds for their personal benefit. The university filed a lawsuit against Shiao accusing him of misappropriating $34.8 million. In a countersuit, Shiao accuses Cheng of using $2.6 million in university funds to buy three homes for herself and family members. Shiao and Cheng have both denied wrongdoing.

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