Published: 08th February 2019
Indian students are flocking Kentucky universities, says DHS report
These varsities alongside offering full-time, on-campus undergraduate, and graduate degrees, also offer master's programs with mostly online curricula
Hyderabad At a time when the American Universities have seen a sharp fall in the enrollment by Indian students, the state of Kentucky has seen a 70 per cent hike in the enrollment. As per The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) 2018 report of US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) two universities in Kentucky accord for the thousands of Indians students. Interestingly a majority of the growth has come from just two private universities: University of the Campbellsville and University of Cumberlands — together they account for 84 per cent of all international master's students in Kentucky during 2017-18.
Another interesting trend observed is that in Kentucky the number of master's degree students more than doubled in the same period. The report has revealed is that despite the galloping growth in Indian student population in the state, students seeking bachelor's degrees has declined by 8.8 per cent and percentage of those enrolling for Master has shot up by a whopping 200. 4 per per cent.
The number of students pursuing PhD has also a jump by 13.4 per cent. These varsities alongside offering full-time, on-campus undergraduate, and graduate degrees, also offer master's programs with mostly online curricula targeting working professionals. For such students, many of those who don't even live in Kentucky, take online courses and visit the school only one weekend per semester. Kiran, (name changed on request) a former student of the university and currently working with the Tech firm in Maryland on H1B visa said, "Since most students come with the mindset that they are spending lakhs on fee or have to repay the loan they took to fund their tution fee and stay here, they decide to enroll in a second Msaters degree while awaiting HIB visa processing. Indian students find such courses attractive since attendance is not mandatory," he said.
This was how 600 students of which 568 were Telugus, fell in the trap of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which had set up the University of Franmington, only to trap such immigrants who have been "illegally overstaying" in the US. On January 30, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested eight students-turned recruiters from the fake varsity and detained another 130. The program setup, however, worries many like Krishan, who landed in the US in 2006 as a student and then transitioned to H1B on graduation. "Throughout my 13 years of stay in this country, I have come across many students that take false steps and jeopardize there legal stay in US. Today its Farmnington University, tomorrow it will be another. The fate of such students who are not following the regulations will not be any different," he said.
Though such courses are open to all students, it is mostly foreign students who enrol. This, in turn, serves as a red flag for the investigating agencies. "High numbers of international students compared to overall student population; enrollment of more students than the buildings would accommodate; and high numbers of students enrolled in Curricular Practical Training, compared to total international students are some of the red flags that investigation officials look for," said Mohan Nannapaneni, from Team Aid, an Indian American Telugu association aiding the students.
Unlike before when students would be given benefit of doubt and left off easily, according to the new Immigration Services' policy, students enrolled in phoney universities can now be deported immediately if 180 days have lapsed in their legal status. This, obviously is creating a lot of fear among students enrolled in similar programmes across US, even if they are legitimate.