Nobel University’s Position on ACICS’s Loss of Recognition by the U.S. Department of Education
Many students and friends of Nobel are rightly concerned about this development, especially because of a recent news item on Radio Korea. Although these are serious events, students should know that there serious inaccuracies in the reporting of facts and implications for Nobel University. Nobel University students’ statuses are not in immediate danger, and we should stay calm and continue to study hard.
1. Only ESL and STEM OPT students are immediately affected.
The Radio Korea article can be misunderstood as saying that all students of ACICS-accredited schools must immediately transfer to other schools to maintain their F-1 status. However, if you read the actual ICE article carefully (attached to pages 2-3), only ESL and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) OPT students need to transfer immediately. This is because for these two types of programs, accreditation is necessary for a school to issue F-1 visas. Nobel University does not have any current ESL or STEM OPT F-1 students.
2. Nobel University can be recognized for F-1 visa issuance in other ways.
Again, as the ICE article makes clear, for non-ESL and STEM OPT programs, schools can be certified to issue F-1 visas in other ways, not just accreditation. Nobel University is currently investigating these options and will make sure to maintain it’s F-1 visa issuing capacity into the future. We have 18 months to do this, and most likely will have more time because of other factors, including ACICS’s legal efforts.
3. ACICS accreditation is not completely finished.
Another thing to remember is that ACICS has not exhausted all its legal remedies. It is true that the US Department of Education denied recognition, and the Secretary denied ACICS’s appeal. But ACICS has already began to appeal to the federal courts for emergency relief.
4. Nobel University will seek accreditation elsewhere.
Nobel University feels that the loss of accreditation is unjust, because the Department of Education, in its rejection of ACICS, was targeting specifically schools receiving federal financial aid funds. However, this is unrelated to Nobel.
One of the ways in which Nobel is working to ensure status after 18 months into the future is applying for accreditation elsewhere. At this moment, staff are preparing documentation to submit to another accrediting agency whose status is secure.
5. It is important to remember the big picture.
The federal government’s Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS ICE), which oversees student visas, is not the only agency which affects Nobel and its students. There is also California’s Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE), which is a consumer protection agency. And then there are accrediting agencies like ACICS. This is how they work together: 1. In order to operate in California, a school needs BPPE approval. 2. In order to issue student visas, a school needs ICE approval. 3. No school is required to be accredited. 4. However, being accredited is one way to get BPPE approval. 5. Also, being accredited is one way to get ICE approval.
Of course all this is confusing and worrying. We ask you to stay calm, knowing that we are working hard in all the ways above. Please contact us if you have any further questions.