Two Marginal Universities in Virginia Remain in Trouble with Regulators

By David North on February 28, 2020

Two marginal educational institutions in Virginia that major in foreign students got deeper in trouble with authorities this month.

As we reported earlier, Fairfax University of Virginia (FXUA, the former Virginia International University, VIU) had sharply shrunken revenues in its most recent filings while Stratford University (of Falls Church, Va.) shut some of its own campuses. Further setbacks for both popped up recently.

Perhaps the more significant of them was the order from the usually mild-mannered Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) that Stratford must suspend accepting new students until ACICS can deal with its request for re-accreditation. I have been watching ACICS for the last five or six years and do not recall such a drastic move on its part. (ACICS is the entity that the Obama administration sought to terminate on the grounds of its low standards, but which was revived by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.)

Stratford's President, Dr. Richard Schurtz was told in a letter dated February 26, that:

The [ACICS] Council notes that the institution will be appearing in person at its [ACICS's] April 2020 meeting to respond to the Council's letter dated December 19, 2019. The information includes a YouTube video of yourself clearly stating in English that the Erbil campus is fully accredited and offering programs that are being offered in the U.S. Additionally, copies of internal emails were provided that further support the existence of a Stratford University campus in Erbil that was not approved by ACICS.

Erbil is in the Kurdish part of Iraq; ACICS previously charged that Stratford opened a branch operation there without its approval; Stratford said that it was something other than a branch of the university.

Stratford recognized early on (back in 2011) the utility of the subsidies of the Optional Practical Training program for alien graduates of U.S. colleges and universities; as we reported at the time, it had more of these slots for its graduates than any other university in America.

There also was an audit of FXUA/VIU by Virginia state regulators, the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV). SCHEV is in the process of making a decision as to the revocation of FXUA's license to operate in Virginia. The results of the audit, which CIS obtained following a FOIA request, found two "unresolved items of non-compliance". One of these dealt with documentation of the credentials of two of its teachers, as well as finding that the institution continued not to collect "all items justifying admission", The latter comment dealt with the files of 13 students.

The question of FXUA's continuing license to operate in the state will be dealt with at a May meeting of SCHEV.