The case of visa fraud by the authorities of universities like Tri Valley in the United States is an aberration, but could not be avoided as there are some in both the countries who are looking to make fast buck through this route, a top US official has said.
As such the United States urges overseas students, in particular in India, to do proper research before applying for an American university and to get consultation from Education USA advisors based in their country, the official told foreign reporters at the Washington Foreign Press Center.
The Tri Valley university was raided and shut down by US authorities earlier this year on charges of a massive immigration fraud. Over 1000 Indian students studying in the California-based university were affected.
"Those kinds of things (Tri Valley University) are going to happen in any system that is as open market as the United States. I would say, number one, it's a rarity. It doesn't happen very often," said Adam Ereli, Acting Assistant Secretary for Education and Cultural Affairs.
"Number two, the US Government, or at least the Bureau of Education and Culture Affairs in the State Department, is working to ensure that if students go to the United States to study, that the process of finding out about the university, communicating with the university, is done in an open and transparent way. And frankly, that's why we've established this network of educational advising called EducationUSA," he said in response to a question about Tri Valley fraud.
These are professional educational advisors, both local and American, who usually work in US Embassies. In India they work through the Fulbright Foundation.
"They're open to anybody, any citizen of the country who wants to come and find out about opportunities for studying in the United States," he said.
"They will advise you on what kind of university it is, what its advantages, its disadvantages, its strong points, its weaker points, the process for application, help you go through the process, sometimes help defray the cost of application," he said.
"I would say that there are going to be the rare and unusual problem that is characteristic of any free market environment. But the way to avoid that is to rely on the EducationUSA network, which is designed to help students negotiate or navigate the process, what is a very complicated and often misunderstood process," Ereli said.
The US official said not every Indian student who goes to study to the US is going to go through the educational advisor.