- American World University
American World University (AWU) describes itself as an "institution of post-secondary
education." It has no physical campus. It purports to offer a collegeeducation and awards college degrees, but authorities in the United Statesgenerally consider it to be a diploma mill. In January 2005 American World University offered "all degrees" for $1,000 as a "New Years Special." [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20050123124806/http://awu.edu/ American World University] from 2005]
1990by Maxine Asher, AWU operated out of a Rapid City, South Dakotaoffice until 2000, when an increase in Iowa standards for post-secondary institutions forced it to relocate to Pascagoula, Mississippi. [cite web | author=Bartlett, Thomas and Scott Smallwood| year=2004| title="Maxine Asher Has a Degree for You" | format=http | work= The Chronicle of Higher Education| url=http://chronicle.com/free/v50/i42/42a01201.htm | accessmonthday=24 January |accessyear=2006] Asher herself is based in California.
Criticism and controversy
American World University is not accredited by any institutional accrediting body recognized by the
United States Department of Education. [cite news | url=http://www.chea.org | title=Accreditation Database and Information | publisher= Council for Higher Education Accreditation| date= | first= | last=|accessdate = 2006-08-18] However, it is listed as "accredited" by the World Association of Universities and Colleges, an organization that is also run by Maxine Asher. [ [http://www.web-hed.com/wauc/universities.htm World Association of Universities and Colleges list of schools] May 2006]
As part of its services, AWU claims to offer people the opportunity to earn college credits based on work and life experience, and to take courses at home through
distance education. However, some dispute AWU's claim that they provide legitimate academic services. John Bear, the author of "Bear's Guide to Earning Degrees through Distance Learning", said of AWU, "Academically, there's nothing there."
In January, 2004, the
State of Hawaii's Office of Consumer Protectionwon a lawsuit against AWU; the judgement enjoined AWU from "Providing any post-secondary instructional programs or courses leading to a degree" or "Acting as or holding themselves out as a 'college', 'academy', 'institute', 'institution', 'university' or anything similar thereto." [cite news | url=http://www.hawaii.gov/dcca/areas/ocp/udgi/lawsuits/AWU/american_world_u_c.pdf | title=Lawsuit from Office of Consumer Protection | publisher=State of Hawaii | date= 2005 | first= | last= | accessdate = 2006-08-18] [cite news | url=http://pacific.bizjournals.com/pacific/stories/2000/05/29/focus1.html?t=printable | title=State dominates the $200 million quick-degree industry | publisher=Pacific Business News | date= 2000-05-26 | first=Heather | last=Tang | accessdate = 2006-08-18]
Daily Iowan" describes AWU in depth in an article entitled "Stealth U. in Iowa City duped many, experts say."cite news | url=http://www.dailyiowan.com/media/storage/paper599/news/2003/01/27/Metro/stealth.U.In.Iowa.City.Duped.Many.Experts.Say-352197.shtml?norewrite200605030436&sourcedomain=www.dailyiowan.com | title='Stealth U' in Iowa City duped many, experts say | publisher= Daily Iowan| date= January 27, 2003| first=Ryan | last=Foley|accessdate = 2006-08-18] According to the article, Michael Lambert, the executive director of the Washington, DC-based Distance Education and Training Councilsaid Asher applied for accreditation for AWU to his organization in 1996. He said she complained about the requirements and the paperwork and challenged him to visit her in person. He recalls flying to Iowa City and meeting her in a few empty rooms that were the headquarters of AWU. After a 30-minute meeting, Asher withdrew the application for accreditation.
The same article relates the experiences of a student named John Shaw who he says he received specific assurances from Asher that the master's degree he was seeking would be acknowledged in
Saudi Arabia. When he applied for a job in that country, he was told that neither the degree nor the school were considered legitimate: "In fact, they told me that I was wasting my time and money studying with that school."
In March 2004 the "
Washington Post" reported a public official was criticized for possessing a doctorate from American World University. [ Paul Schwartzman. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A44035-2004May20.html Johnson Deputy Defends Degree Unaccredited School Granted Doctorate] . " Washington Post" May 21, 2004; Page B01] The article quoted John Bearas saying "Academically, there's nothing there," said Bear who noted "I don't call it a school, I call it a business."
As of 2006, the Los Angeles-area
Better Business Bureau's report on AWU gives it a D rating, apparently based on one complaint, which the BBB says AWU "refuse [d] to adjust, relying on terms of agreement." The Mississippi Better Business Bureau, however, calls AWU's record "satisfactory," again mentioning only a single complaint (presumably a different one) which, they judged, AWU had "made every reasonable effort to resolve." [The Better Business Bureau of the Southland, Inc., report on company ID 100029797 [http://www.labbb.org/BBBWeb/Forms/Business/CompanyReportPage_Expository.aspx?CompanyID=100029797] ] [The Better Business Bureau of Mississippi, Inc., report on company ID 6001227 [http://www.bbbmississippi.org/commonreport.html?compid=6001227] ]
List of unaccredited institutions of higher learning
* [http://www.awu.edu AWU's website]
* [http://www.hawaii.gov/dcca/pdf/ocp/american_world_u_sj-defense.pdf Hawaii's lawsuit]
* [http://www.michigan.gov/documents/Non-accreditedSchools_78090_7.pdf Non-accredited colleges/universities] - State of Michigan's list
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A44035-2004May20.html Johnson Deputy Defends Degree; Unaccredited School Granted Doctorate] - Washington Post article,
May 20, 2004.
* [http://www.dailyiowan.com/news/2003/01/27/Metro/stealth.U.In.Iowa.City.Duped.Many.Experts.Say-352197.shtml 'Stealth U' in Iowa City Duped Many, Experts Say] - Daily Iowan article,
January 27, 2003
*cite web | author=Bartlett, Thomas and Scott Smallwood| year=2004| title="Maxine Asher Has a Degree for You" | format= | work=
The Chronicle of Higher Education| url=http://chronicle.com/free/v50/i42/42a01201.htm | accessmonthday=24 January | accessyear=2006
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