India asks US to prevent exploitation of foreign students

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NEW DELHI - India Wednesday said it expected the US to prevent its universities from exploiting foreign students, as has happened in the case of Tri-Valley University in California in which about 1,500 Indians face an uncertain academic future.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, in a suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha, said the government was confident that the unfortunate development in the Tri-Valley University would not affect the excellent cooperation between India and the US in higher education, under which over a lakh Indian students are studying in American universities.

The government expects the United States would take steps to prevent such (Tri-Valley) universities from exploiting foreign students. The government would also advise Indian students to exercise due diligence in applying to foreign universities, he said soon after the Question Hour ended.

I am confident that this unfortunate development will not affect the excellent cooperation between India and the United States in higher education, which includes the presence of over 100,000 Indian students at US universities, and who enjoy a strong reputation for academic accomplishments and responsible conduct, he added.

Krishna said while India recognised the right of every government to investigate and prosecute fraud, it has asked the US government that all Tri-Valley students, who are themselves victims of fraud, should be given adequate time and opportunity to transfer to other universities or adjust their status. And, if they desired so, they should be allowed to return to India honourably.

Noting that the US government had closed Tri-Valley University last month for alleged immigration fraud and other irregularities, Krishna said the university was authorised in February 2009 to admit a limited number of foreign students, but had not enjoyed state accreditation.

Its 1,500 Indian students constituted 95 percent of enrolment at the university and they were there on valid visas or authorisation.

“US authorities had questioned a number of Indian students and 18 of them were initially detained and then released with radio monitoring devices on their ankles, pending completion of their investigations for possible involvement in irregularities,” he said.

Krishna said India had strongly protested the radio collars as unacceptable, which should be removed immediately and the US authorities had begun progressively removing them.

The US authorities, he said, have also assured that innocent students would have adequate opportunity to readjust their status or transfer to other universities.

Assuring that the government and the Indian embassy and consulates general in the US were fully engaged in addressing the welfare and academic future of the affected students, the minister said the Indian mission had got in touch with most of the students despite them being dispersed across the US without registering their new contact details.

The embassy and consulates have provided all possible assistance to them, including through direct meetings, by organising a free legal aid camp and issuing appropriate guidance and advisories, he added.

Krishna said that he personally took up the matter with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had also conveyed India’s concerns to American authorities during her visit to the US.

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