The University of Northern Virginia rarely set off any bells of recognition. Its owner, Daniel Ho, had hoped to keep it that way. In an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2011, Mr Ho said: “We don’t want people to know us”. That changed a bit on July 16, when the Annandale-based for-profit institution, a short drive from Washington and popular with students from India, was ordered to be shut down because it failed to regain the accreditation it lost in 2008. It had failed four crucial audits conducted by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), which highlighted a pattern of neglect of such essentials as having a qualified faculty and proper curricular content. Hundreds of students, many of them from India and most from Andhra Pradesh, now find themselves in a limbo.
To David North, a fellow at the Centre for Immigration Studies who has followed UNVA’s misfortunes, the red flags were in plain sight: from the nondescript four-classroom facility, to the raid by immigration officials in 2011 and the subsequent resignation of chancellor David Lee after it was revealed that he ran a sex dungeon in his home. “[The sex dungeon] was the frosting on the cake,” says Mr North.