Beijing-based New Oriental Vision Overseas Consulting, an AIRC-certified agency and one of the largest education companies in China, has written personal statements on behalf of students and falsified high school transcripts to help them gain admission to US universities, according to the Reuters investigation.
Following the allegations last week, the umbrella company, New Oriental Education and Technology Group, saw its NYSE stock value drop by $1.8bn.
“Any time there’s a story in the media, it allows AIRC to start a process of asking for the agency to provide answers to the issues that were raised”
New Oriental Vision Overseas Consulting, Co. Ltd was founded in 2004 as a subsidiary to New Oriental Education and Technology Group. According to Reuters, it employs 3,300 counsellors and staff at offices around China.
The company is certified by AIRC until 2018. However, the organisation has confirmed it will investigate the agency as a result of the accusations brought forth by Reuters.
Mike Finnell, executive director of AIRC, told The PIE News the allegations that emerged were unexpected.
“Any time there’s a story in the media or a comment on the public complaint process, it allows AIRC to start a process of asking for the agency to provide answers to the issues that were raised,” he said.
“We’re working through it but that process will unfold and get started sometime within the next week.”
AIRC’s Certification of Standards requires members to adhere to principles of ‘Transparency and Integrity of Services Rendered’ which state: “The agency conducts itself in a transparent manner in which only truthful claims are made, and both institutions and students are served in an unbiased manner.”
Failure to comply with AIRC standards “may result in probationary action or revoking of certification”, according to the organisation’s website.
During the investigation period, the member’s probationary status and the violated standard will be made public on the organisation’s website.
When proceedings start, the agency will have 30 days to respond. The investigation will be completed within 60 working days and the agency’s membership status will be determined by the certification commission, a group of representatives from US-based institutions and education providers.
Hongling (Chris) Chen, US programme manager for NOVO, said the company is willing to cooperate with AIRC and is waiting for the official notification about the evaluation.
NOVO prides itself on its longstanding commitment to education and the very high standards it has for both the company as well as the students it assists
“NOVO prides itself on its longstanding commitment to education and the very high standards it has for both the company as well as the students it assists with its programmes in an honest and ethical manner,” he said.
For its investigation, Reuters contacted eight former and current NOVO employees who reported setting up false email accounts on behalf of students which they controlled during the entire admission process and writing letters of recommendation to support their applications.
In his response, Chen said: “In all employees’ training the company emphasises the need for an unwavering commitment to high quality service, thoughtful instruction, and compliance with the ideals that NOVO stands for.
“The company’s operations are governed by robust policies and procedures designed to guard against any less than ethical behavior by employees. The company stands for nothing less so that it can consistently and effectively have a positive influence on education overall and the betterment of students all throughout the markets it serves.”
The Reuters report also described similar fraudulent behaviour on the part of Dipont Education Management Group. The agency is not AIRC-certified, but sends thousands of students overseas annually.