As another season of US education fairs comes around, educatioin experts say the Tri-Valley University incident will not deter Indian students from coming to America but those seeking admission should make thorough enquiries first.
"The Tri-Valley incident is an odd case that is being nipped in the bud by the active media and the action taken by the governments of India and the US. It will not have any impact on new admissions to US universities," Prabhakar Lavakare, India country partner of the Institute of International Education (IIE) in the US, told IANS.
"There are many fly-by-night institutions in the US and a careful study of their background and reference with The US-India Education Foundation (USIEF) would definitely help students avoid a similar situation," he said.
He was referring to the Tri-Valley University in California, where students, 90 percent of them from India, faced the prospect of deportation after the varsity was found to be a sham and was shut down.
It is 'US Education Fair' time in India - through spring beginning in March and autumn in September - held mostly in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad.
These fairs are organised by USIEF, IIE, Linden Tours and the Council for International Schools (CIS). There are also other players like IDP and American Expo which attract students through advertisements.
"University studies are an investment in your future, weigh all the information before making a decision," cautioned Susan Whipple of Marquette University, one of the oldest private universities of Wisconsin established in 1881.
Whipple, who has been showcasing Marquette University in India since the 1990s, said students who are seriously inclined will not be dissuaded from applying to US universities as a result of the Tri-Valley incident.
She said in order to comprehend the admission process, many Indian students and their families understand the value of attending fairs.
Parke Muth, dean of international admissions in the University of Virginia, told IANS that many universities rely on 'word of mouth' and do not participate in any education fair for undergraduate programmes.
"It is purely reputation and the detailed information about their programmes and campus life, available from university offices and their websites, which attract and enable students to choose a university in the US," he said.
The US has more than 3,300 accredited colleges and universities, which offer a wide range of graduate and undergraduate programmes. There are 4,352 degree-granting institutions in America but only the highest quality US universities are recognised by the popular university rankings. The 'Best 373 Colleges' named by The Princeton Review represent the top nine percent of universities in America.
The rules and regulations governing the entrance of all international students into the US are complicated and should be properly looked into before applying for a student visa, said Lavakare.
There are mainly two types of student visas: The F-1 (Student Visa) for full-time students enrolled in an academic programme and the J-1 (Exchange Visitor Visa) issued for students needing practical training which is not available in their home country to complete their academic programme.
The central issue today is that many Indian students have already thought of a long-term career plan in the US as they apply for admissions. They often prolong their stay in the US so as to improve their professional careers and earn through lucrative jobs offered by industry which sponsors their potential employee for H-1B (Work Visa) - a requirement under the immigration rules, he said.
Lavakare, in his study on the mobility of scholars between India and the US, states "the attraction for education in the US continues to grow but the nature of mobility and its diversity is changing.
"Earlier, US universities attracted post-graduate students from India to get a PhD degree of a quality not easily acquired in India and the US universities were not looking for students as a source of revenue generation as the trend seems to be today, with focus now on undergraduate recruitment."
The number of students from India increased by two percent to a total of nearly 105,000. Indian students represent 15 percent of all international students in US higher education, the second largest international community of students after China, according to the Open Doors report 2010.
Muth and Whipple said the number of undergraduate applications from students from India has shown an increase for Fall 2011. Engineering, biomedical, civil, electrical, computer, mechanical, sciences, business studies remain the popular programmes.