Unaccredited institutions of higher learning

Unaccredited institutions of higher learning

Unaccredited institutions of higher education are colleges, seminaries, and universities lacking educational accreditation.

Degrees or other qualifications from unaccredited institutions may not be accepted by civil service or other employers.

An institution may lack accreditation for one of several reasons. A new institution may not yet have attained accreditation, while a long-established institution may have lost accreditation due to financial difficulties or other factors. Some unaccredited institutions are fraudulent diploma mills. Some institutions (for example, some Bible colleges and seminaries) choose not to participate in the accreditation process because they view it as an infringement of their religious, academic, or political freedom.

Legal issues and considerations


In Australia, it is a criminal offence to purport to offer university degrees (Bachelors, Masters, Doctors) without government authorization.Fact|date=September 2007 This authorization is generally given in the form of an Act of a State or Federal Parliament, specifically referring to that institution. (Each state will recognize the institutions authorized under the law of the other states.) Separate to this, there is also the authorization under the Higher Education Funding Act to receive federal government funds for students; this is a separate process from authorization to grant degrees, so some institutions are entitled to grant degrees but not to receive government funds to do so. There is also registration under CRICOS (the ESOS Act) - a student visa can only be issued to a student if they are studying at an institution with a valid CRICOS registration.Fact|date=September 2007


All universities and colleges are currently state or municipal organs, funded directly from public funds. There is no process for accrediting private universities, and public universities are not allowed to collect tuition fees from full-time students. The last private university to be nationalized was Åbo Akademi (1981).


According to the India Department of Education, regarding institutions without accreditation or an Act of Parliament, "It is emphasized that these fake institutions have no legal entity to call themselves as University/Vishwvidyalaya and to award ‘degrees’ which are not treated as valid for academic/employment purposes." [cite web |publisher=Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development |url=http://www.education.nic.in/htmlweb/he-centraluniversities-list.htm |archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20061009183806/http://www.education.nic.in/htmlweb/he-centraluniversities-list.htm |archivedate=2006-10-09|title=Brief Write - Fake Universities/institutions]


Legitimate higher education qualifications in Ireland are placed on, or formally aligned, with the National Framework of Qualifications. This framework was established by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland in accordance with the Qualifications (Education and Training) Act (1999). It is illegal under the Universities Act (1997) for any body offering higher education services to use the term "university" without the permission of the Minister for Education and Science. It is likewise illegal under the Institutes of Technologies Acts (1992-2006)to use the term "institute of technology" or "regional technical college" without permission.

New Zealand

The New Zealand Education Act prohibits use of the terms "degree" and "university" by institutions other than the country's eight accredited universities. In 2004 authorities announced their intention to take action against unaccredited schools using the words "degree" and "university," including the University of Newlands, an unaccredited distance-learning provider based in the Wellington suburb of Newlands. Other unaccredited New Zealand institutions reported to be using the word "university" included the New Zealand University of Golf in Auckland, the online Tawa-Linden and Tauranga Universities of the Third Age, and the Southern University of New Zealand. Newlands owner Rochelle M. Forrester said she would consider removing the word "university" from the name of her institution in order to comply with the law. [David Cohen, [ New Zealand Vows a Crackdown on Diploma Mills in Wake of Unusual Defamation Lawsuit] , "The Chronicle of Higher Education", August 26, 2004]

After the University of Newlands was listed as a "wannabe" or "degree mill" by "The Australian" newspaper, the institution was given permission by the New Zealand High Court to proceed to trial in its suit against the paper's publisher for defamation. [http://www.aus.ac.nz/publications/tertiary_update/2004/No32.htm Citation broken|date=August 2007] The presiding judge noted that such degrees may be illegal and that purporting to offer such degrees could be deemed dishonest or unethical conduct. He also ruled that defamation occurs in the country where the material is downloaded from the Internet. In December 2005 the Court of Appeal said the defamation case could not go ahead. Newlands and Ms. Forrester had not shown it had a good arguable case that an act had been done in New Zealand for which damages could be claimed from a party outside New Zealand. Without their showing a good arguable case, New Zealand courts would not assume jurisdiction.

outh Korea

Citations broken|date=August 2007 In March 2006 prosecutors in Seoul had "broken up a crime ring selling bogus music diplomas from Russia, which helped many land university jobs and seats in orchestras." [http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060320/od_uk_nm/oukoe_uk_crime_korea_1] People who used these degrees were criminally charged.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom the institution offering degrees must be accredited and a list maintained by the Department for Education and Skills. [http://www.dfes.gov.uk/providersregister/] Prosecutions under the Education Reform Act are rare, as many of the bodies on the internet are based outside UK jurisdiction.

Prosecutions under other legislation do occur. In 2004 Thames Valley College in London was prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act for offering degrees from the 'University of North America', a limited liability company set up by themselves in the US with no academic staff and no premises other than a mail forwarding service.Fact|date=January 2007

United States of America

Unlike some countries, the term "university" is not protected in the United States. Most of the individual states require higher education institutions within the state to be licensed or have other formal legal authorization in order to enroll students or issue degrees, but these legal authorizations are not the same as educational accreditation. The most reliable source for verifying information about a school, including its accreditation status, is the US Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and its College Opportunities Online (COOL) link. Lists of accredited institutions may be obtained from the United States Department of Education [http://www.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html?src=qc] or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

In the United States, unaccredited degrees may not be acceptable for state or federal civil service or other employment; in certain cases and circumstances criminal penalties may even apply should such a degree be presented in lieu of a degree from an accredited institution. However, for degree holders such degrees in and of themselves are illegal or restricted only in Oregon, New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois, North Dakota, Nevada and Texas, where the use of a fraudulent degree is considered a misdemeanor, typically punishable by relatively small fines [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20050312020754/http://www.madison.com/tct/news/stories/index.php?ntid=28423&ntpid=3 Diploma mills provide phony credentials] , By Helena Andrews, The Capital Times/Medill News Service, February 14, 2005] . Institutions offering purely religious degrees or training are exempt from licensing requirements in some states, subject to specific rules in each state. [ [http://www.cga.ct.gov/2007/rpt/2007-R-0023.htm Connecticut State Website Report Exemptions from the Higher Education Licensing Process for Religious Colleges] ]

Wyoming-based Kennedy-Western University sued the state of Oregon in 2004, challenging a state law that made it illegal for résumés used in connection with employment (including job applications) in the state to list degrees from institutions that are not accredited or recognized by the state as legitimate. [http://chronicle.com/free/v47/i28/28a03401.htm States Struggle to Regulate Online Colleges That Lack Accreditation] , "The Chronicle of Higher Education - Information Technology", March 23, 2001.] [http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/stories/2004/12/20/daily26.html Oregon settles with unaccredited university] , "Portland Business Journal", December 22, 2004.] [http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/margie_boule/index.ssf?/base/living/1107867837315370.xml] , Kennedy-Western claimed that its degree-holders had a First Amendment right to say they were degree-holders. The case never got to trial because the parties reached an out-of-court settlement. Under the settlement, Kennedy-Western degree-holders may say that they have degrees when applying for private sector jobs in Oregon, but must also reveal that the school is unaccredited on all job applications, resumes, business cards and advertisements that mention the degree. (Public employment and licensed professions are excepted from the agreement). [ [http://www.globeinvestor.com/servlet/ArticleNews/story/BWIRE/20041221/20041221005728 Oregon Settles Federal Lawsuit Filed by Kennedy-Western University; State Officials Will Seek Changes to State Law Regulating the Use of Degrees from Unaccredited Universities] , Kennedy-Western press release by David Gering, Businesswire, December 21, 2004] A statutory revision was enacted in 2005, allowing graduates of unaccredited and unapproved schools to list an unaccredited degree on a résumé as long as they note the school's unaccredited status in the résumé. [ [http://www.leg.state.or.us/comm/sms/sms05/sb1039aconfx06-22-2005.pdf Conference Committee on SB 1039] , "73rd Oregon Legislative Assembly - 2005 Regular Session, Measure: SB 1039 A*", June 22, 2005.] In the settlement, the Oregon State Office of Degree Authorization (ODA) also agreed to refrain from referring to the school as a "diploma mill." Oregon now lists Kennedy-Western as "unaccredited", stating that its "degrees do not meet requirements for employment by State of Oregon or for work in any profession licensed by the State of Oregon for which a degree is required" [ [http://www.osac.state.or.us/oda/unaccredited.html Office of Degree Authorization ] ] .

ee also

* Accreditation mill
* Distance education
* List of unaccredited institutions of higher learning
* List of recognized accreditation associations of higher learning
* List of unrecognized accreditation associations of higher learning
* Nationally recognized accrediting agencies in the United States


External links

* [http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/AAR/PrivateInstitutions/FraudTX.cfm List of non-accredited colleges/ universities] by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

* [http://www.chea.org Database for Accreditation] in the United States (CHEA)
* [http://www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation Database for Accreditation] in the United States (USDE)
* [http://www.dfes.gov.uk/providersregister/ Database for Accreditation] in the United Kingdom
* [http://www.higheredconsulting.com.au/links.html Database for Accreditation] in Australia
* [http://www.education.nic.in/collegedir/collegedir.asp Database for Accreditation] in India
* [http://www.lan.gov.my/english/accredited.htm Database for Accreditation] in Malaysia
* [http://www.diplomamills.nl/ Database for Accreditation] in the Netherlands
* [http://www.hec.gov.pk/htmls/hei/public_alert1.htm Database for Accreditation] in Pakistan
* [http://www.ched.gov.ph/ Database for Accreditation] in the Philippines
* [http://www.russianenic.ru/english/cred/b-c.html Database for Accreditation] in Russia
* [http://english.hsv.se/?contentId=2181 Database for Accreditation] in Sweden
* [http://www.norric.org/ Nordic National Recognition Information Centres]
* [http://www.enic-naric.net/instruments.asp?display=resources&region=other List of worldwide accreditation resources]
* [http://www.hec.gov.pk/htmls/hei/public_alert1.htm List of unlawful colleges/universities] in Pakistan

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