'San Diego University for Integrative Studies' Ordered to Stop Accepting New Students

By David North on March 24, 2022

It is a long process to close down a school that offers admissions — and thus in many cases work permits on arrival — to foreign students. 

Today’s example is a small, private-for-profit college in California: San Diego University for Integrative Studies (SDUIS). A California state judge on March 3 ordered it to stop accepting new students while permitting it to continue classes and to grant degrees.

A California regulatory agency, the Bureau for Private, Postsecondary Education (BPPE), first ordered the school to stop accepting new students and to terminate all degree-granting activities. The university sued the state government, and in a temporary order, the judge said the classes may continue but admissions must stop. The court has yet to make a final decision on the matter.

The BPPE description of the credentialing problems starts seven years ago, in 2015. First, the school was seeking approval from the Accrediting Council of Independent College and Schools, which was itself on the verge of being forced out of business by the Obama administration, a decision later overturned by the Trump administration. Then SDUIS sought accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). This process continued for about five years, with BPPE granting extensions of its deadlines on numerous occasions. Eventually, the state agency denied the application and the court case followed.

While the Homeland Security agency in charge of such matters, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP, part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement), does not require accreditation in order for schools to issue the Form I-20, which usually leads to an F-1 visa, California does require it for its purposes; on the other hand, SEVP does demand a state license for schools. So a negative decision by BPPE would, among other things, seem to put the university out of the foreign student business. SDUIS is expected to appeal the judge’s decision.

At this distance, we cannot make any independent judgment of the quality of the education offered at SDUIS, but we can comment on the quality of the description of the education offered.

Two years ago, we wrote about the university’s credentialing problems and published (from its website) an error-ridden description of the university’s English Language Center (which is accredited separately). We found 12 different spelling, punctuation, or grammatical mistakes in 16 short lines of type.

We examined the website again on March 24, 2022, and found that none of the errors have been corrected over the last 25 months. Here is the text in question, with the English-language problems highlighted.

Does the fact that the university, for the moment at least, cannot admit any students impact SEVP’s listing of acceptable universities for foreign students? One might think it would, but no, it still is on the list of entities that can issue the I-20. SEVP, ever client-focused (i.e., on the schools it lists) demands that a university has to be (in effect) killed 16 times over before it will take it off the list.

This is not to suggest that SDUIS will try to issue the I-20s; that might well lead to a contempt of court order. It does suggest that SEVP is an agency that moves at the speed of the great sloth to police its own beat. An attempt to get SEVP’s reaction to the court order went unanswered for several days.