Corruption in Higher Education

For those of us here, I imagine that this will come as no great surprise:

At a time when it's more competitive than ever to get into the University of Illinois, some students with subpar academic records are being admitted after interference from state lawmakers and university trustees, a Tribune investigation has revealed.

Hundreds of applicants received special consideration in the last five years, according to documents obtained by the Tribune under the state's Freedom of Information Act. The records chronicle a shadow admissions system in which some students won spots at the state's most prestigious public university over the protests of admissions officers, while others had their rejections reversed during an unadvertised appeal process.

In one case, a relative of Antoin "Tony" Rezko, the now-convicted influence peddler for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, got admitted after U. of I. President B. Joseph White wrote an e-mail stating that the governor "has expressed his support, and would like to see admitted" Rezko's relative and another applicant.

As surprising as this probably is for many people who haven't seen the shenanigans that go on in our nation's universities, this scandal in Illinois is actually pretty tame.

Our nation's institutions of higher learning are run through with a deep and persistent corruption that erodes any illusion that university education is primarily a meritocracy.

In just one case that I know of, and hasn't been made public, after a university announced that it was suspending a programs at the university it proceeded to admit 3 foreign students, most likely without even an application, at the request of these student's government. To be clear, numerous American students had applied to the program in question, and had received letters saying that the program to which they applied had been suspended.

Long after the deadline for applications had passed, a university provost made a phone call to the department in which the suspended program was located, ordering them to admit these foreign students even though American applicants had received letters saying that the program had been suspended.

The reason given by the provost for admitting these foreign students?

Their admission was critical to securing a study abroad relationship with an institution in their home country.
Moreover, this country in question has been known to send intelligence agents to the United States using the cover that they are university students.

Basically, the American university sold visas for these students to secure an institutional relationship with a Chinese university, and continued support from the Confucius Institute for the American universities Chinese language program.

Remember, these Chinese students were admitted without an application at the request of their home government as a quid pro quo for a study abroad relationship with an institution in China, and Confucius Institute support for a Chinese language program. Yet, American applicants who had followed the rules, were turned away because they didn't have someone influential to push for them to be admitted.

These Chinese students never even submitted an application, yet they were admitted (with funding) while American students who had followed the rules were turned away.

Beyond the gross unfairness here, it seems an awful lot like the university provost involved in pushing these Chinese students in over the department's objections basically sold visas, which has to be a violation of American law.



foreign students preferred in biased entry?

I think you need more evidence, more documentation in your post...

but at the same time I believe it, but we need facts to prove it, even if just some isolated evidence that has come out per particular universities.

I believe most are accepting 90 credit hour and less undergraduate degrees directly into U.S. PhD programs, with stipends all the while Americans must have a 120 credit hour or greater degree and then are not getting funding because they enter the Masters program, but we need aggregate statistics (which I am sure are lacking!)

Information of this sort

is rarely made public absent a FOIA request.

I can tell you from data that I have from Indiana (came from the Higher Education Commission that for most sate schools 2/3ds of grad students come from in state, with 1/3 from out of state or non us nationals. But, for the biggest two schools (in graduate terms) and the main centers for PhD programs in the state (IU and Purdue), 2/3rds of the grad students come from abroad or out of state.

From info I had to fight to get from Purdue, I can tell you that in STEM, over half the TAships go to foreign nationals.

At the national level, AFAIK, there is no aggregate data. It's a real problem.

Unless I filed a FOIA request, I wouldn't be able to get corroboration for the story I posted above. I've tried to get the information through normal channels, but it's locked up. I don't want to file a FOIA request, because I'm not interested in rocking the boat yet. I would though be happy to provide info to a journalist that would allow them to get to the bottom of it. I'm contemplating contacting David Sirota to tell him the story, and see if he can force the university to cough up the info.

I can't do it on my own though.


I think one can still get a lot of facts. For example, how many were accepted into graduate school with just a 2 yr. degree, % of foreigners to Americans and then next to that their rejection rates, the funding rate, etc.

There used to be a site, who did this.

I'm also not so sure what this has to do with economics, except maybe how Americans are once again getting screwed.

I just did which is a Professional labor/techie site and I can bet money they want to know about it because higher education is required in all of these occupational areas.

The economic side

ultimately, there's a huge economic side to this. That being that a graduate degree is increasingly required for many positions, and if Americans access to that is restricted, then so is their access to these jobs. It also blows the idea that the people who are losing their jobs are responsible for their misfortune because they didn't take advantage of educational opportunities available to them out of the water.

I thought you ran no slaves?

I do

run But i am trying to make it much more of an "anything goes" community space for Professionals, techies, geeks, where H-1B is a huge issue because they are being displaced. I hope to put most writing on EP and let others run the show over there.

I care about that issue but it's just kind of a one trick pony in terms of writing about it and as you note, so many aspects of policy affect the U.S., middle class, not just a 1,2 issue activism agenda.

I'm more analytic I think than activist.

Are you able to get any raw

Are you able to get any raw data given the FERPA privacy rights of students?

I would like to know the statistics about faculty hiring too.

On faculty hiring,

thereare good,but older statstics via the HERI's (Higher eduation Research Institute) faculty survey.

As for students aggregated data with no personally identifying information is available.

The problem inboth cases is that you can get info about the current set of teachers and grad students, but nothing about those who applied and were rejected.

So even where there is something that is suggestive that certain groups are being excluded from graduate education and teaching positions, the universities in question will say that these groups are on average less qualified.......

So what exactly is wrong

So what exactly is wrong with giving TAships to foreign nationals? Are they somehow less qualified? This seems like a rather harsh accusation without being able to show that those people were in any way less qualified. You began by saying higher ed was not a meritocracy and then singled people out based on their state of residence and country of nationality. Please explain the logic here?

It's a matter of cooperation in competition

Go ahead and give the TAship to the most qualified- but don't discriminate against the American because they were born here. They couldn't help being born here.

Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.

Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.

So many instances of this

This is fairly ancient history, with so many, many instances over the years up to the present day.

Many will recall JFK's father, Joseph Kennedy, flunked high school then easily made entrance to Harvard. Also, John Lilly and Cal Tech. The list goes on and on.

One need only look at several Yale grads: Ralph Nader and George W. Bush - and compare and contrast their student records prior to acceptance.

Higher education in America, like everything else, is a complete sham.

I'll tell you what's sad about all this

A couple things here. First and foremost, you have an artificial level of price, supply and demand regarding students. There will always be a large pent up demand for college education, that in my opinion, is kept artificially high. Universities get millions of dollars for research grants, grants for hiring certain minorities, money for credits for loan application for minorities and foreign exchange students. That is only the tip of the iceberg. How do I know this? While in college, I ended up working at the college first part time then basically I lived at the school (Study then work, rinse and repeat). Universities pick students who have a history of volunteering on campus, and one ends up on committees ranging from departmental hirings to parking fees. I have personally witnessed departments picking foreign based professors over those trained here; ironically enough an Indian-born professor who went to school here and had an excellent CV lost out to a job to another Indian-born professor who trained overseas.

As stated, prices are kept artificially high, because if these schools truly had to compete for students, the cost for college would come down. Several community colleges here in Illinois attempted to become full 4-year deals or had attempted to move some of their programs to such status. Both attempts were quashed by both the state of Illinois, protests from the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) and surprisingly enough the University Professionals of Illinois. So thus the supply of 4-year degree outlets are "kept in check."

Regarding student selection, if I had a dollar for every time I sat in a class where an illegal alien (not a foreign-exchange student, but someone who actually entered the country illegally) also took the class who had her or his education paid for, well you get the idea. I've seen poor students (black, white, it doesn't matter) not get the funding they need via FASFA, but illegals can through sham social security numbers. The same has secretly been going on in employment. One year I worked at my school paper, one of the young ladies who stayed on an expired visa from Argentina, was getting paid through her student Id!

Economic hard times tends to see increases in students. While there are some "good schools" and "bad schools," in all honesty I think they are all the same. I've had family members who went to Harvard, and to be honest outside of the "connections" you can get, the education is just about the same as a state school. I could not go to a top school, I had to pay for my classes out of pocket, so I picked a cheap school in my state. You know what I found out, most of the professors there went to places like Harvard or Yale or even top state schools like U of I. The education they gained there they passed on to students at this low-cost school.

This article you post really bugs be, and probably why I'm really getting into this, is because I've even seen veterans not able to get classes yet certain foreign exchange students allowed to take them though the classes were officially "full." No one here is surprised over the Blago scandal, this is actually old news that doesn't just originate with that disgraced man. Louis Guitierez, Aldermen Mel, the various Ryan clans, Mayor Daley, etc etc etc, all have their people/kids who get in regardless. When you cherry pick students, especially politically-connected ones who show obvious signs of lack of qualifications, you kick out those who probably would have gone on to really contribute in this economy.

But this also could be argued with regards of foreign exchange students. You have students here who are willing to pay or get loans (or Pell grants) either born here or are citizens, being essentially barred. Yet here we have foreign exchange students, who from what I have seen, are now coming here also applying for the same pool of lending and grant money. This pool is actually a zero-sum game. One dollar going to Nigel from the UK is one less going to Barry from Ohio.

Secondly, lately, many of these foreign exchange students are actually going back to their countries. In the past, a good chuck (and depending from where, the majority) would stay here, spend money or start a business or work here and pay taxes. Now, the trend is that they go back to their country. Now those that borrow may pay back, I'd be curious to see Sallie Mae's states on foreign exchange students and loans. But regarding grants, here once more, they get an education utilizing grants that could have gone to an American, then go back to their country and contribute there instead. Also, and maybe this has changed since I finished college back in early part of this decade, but when I went to school many foreign exchange students didn't spend money and many remitted what they could back home.

This may not sound politically correct, but if you're going to have entrance exams, then dammit let those who pass well get in over those who are just connected. If universities are going to give preferences, then let it be based on merit and citizenship. I'm sorry, I know that may sound racist, but you don't see universities overseas bending backwards for American students. Universities, in my opinion have for too long veered off from reality. Many are fat and out of touch. They say that California used to have free university education, why isn't that the case now?


"Yet here we have foreign

"Yet here we have foreign exchange students, who from what I have seen, are now coming here also applying for the same pool of lending and grant money"

A cursory glance at the rules for Pell Grants and Federal Subsidized loans will show you that foreign nationals cannot receive either one. As far as Sallie Mae goes, foreign nationals must have a cosigners that is indeed a citizen.

Then someone ain't doing their job

Because they're taking the classes with the grants. Hell, I even hired a student to work at the school paper who was in this situation. Don't tell me they're not there.


They can indeed receive Pell

They can indeed receive Pell Grants. The previous source was incorrect.

education update

In case anyone is wondering, there is an update to the U of I admissions thing.  The Trib' is reporting that Governor Quinn (who's hate for Blago is equal to the fury of a thousand suns) is going to create a panel to probe the scandal.  

Gov. Pat Quinn will appoint a panel Wednesday to investigate University of Illinois' admissions practices, stepping into the controversy nearly two weeks after the Tribune first reported the existence of a clout list for well-connected applicants.

Quinn's seven-member Admissions Review Commission, led by well-respected retired federal Judge Abner Mikva, will have 60 days to complete its work, according to an executive order expected to be signed by the governor. Quinn has scheduled a news conference at the U. of I.'s Chicago campus.

Now I have to tell you, at first I was glad to hear that.  Then the Illinoisan in me clicked on.  Unlike in the rest of the country, here we create laws so you can break 'em if you know what I mean.  Panels are created NOT to find the culprit, but to find the holes that could expose certain people (which will get filled), and find ways to point the blame to your hated enemies (here in Illinois, we have "enemies" and then there are a "hated enemies."  In this case, more shit to pin on Blago to hopefully increase whatever prison sentence he gets).