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US: Stratford to close after losing accreditation

A private, for-profit institution in the US has closed after its accrediting agency lost its status to operate in the country by the Department for Education.

After 45 years, Stratford University will close all it locations. It had three across the US and an India campus in New Delhi. Photo: pexels

CIS included the school as one of its "Obscure Four", which had some of the highest OPT/STEM Extensions between 2009 and 2013

The US deputy secretary of education terminated the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools as a recognised agency in August. The move meant that Stratford University could not enrol new students unless they were able to complete the academic program within 18 months, before Stratford could find a new accreditor.

The school has now said it will “cease operations at the end of this term” at all its locations.

“Without new students, we would not have the sufficient cash flow to operate,” Stratford’s president Richard R Shurtz wrote on the school’s website.

Shurtz said that the leadership team had “worked hard to save the school”, detailing that it had almost signed a deal with an investor from Silicon Valley, but he laid the blame with US authorities saying that “the actions of the department made the deal impossible”.

Stratford has “worked diligently to identify accredited schools” that meet students continuing education needs, but cannot make any guarantees.

The University of the Potomac will take care of Information Technology, Business, and ESL students. Chamberlain will take of Nursing and Health Sciences students, while other schools will be added at a later date.

“These schools indicated to us they would accept your Stratford credits on a case-by-case basis,” the president wrote to students.

The closure of the school in Virginia has been celebrated by one research organisation focusing on US immigration policy.

The “pro-immigrant, low-immigration” Center for Immigration Studies pointed to the high number of graduates on the Optional Practical Training coming from the institution – a program which the organisation described as “controversial”.

It included the school as one of its “Obscure Four”, which had some of the highest OPT/STEM Extensions between 2009 and 2013. Other institutions featured were Northwestern Polytechnic University, Silicon Valley University and Herguan University, all in California.

CIS has also questioned the fate of another “three troubled schools” in Virginia, following the closure of Stratford.

It named the nonprofit Fairfax University of Virginia, the nonprofit California University of Management and Science – Virginia and the for-profit University of North America as the three institutions in difficulty.

“Since most of the alien students are in graduate school, they can start working”

Fairfax – formerly Virginia International University – is an “affiliate of the Turkey-centered Gulen movement and more recently seemingly taken over by allies of the Muslim Brotherhood”, it said.

“Schools like these generally offer most of their classes in the evening or on weekends; since most of the alien students are in graduate school, they can start working — with a federal subsidy — as soon as they enroll, thus creating a legal way for an alien to come to the US and start working immediately,” the organisation claimed.

ACICS lists 62 institutions in its membership directory.

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