Bircham International University
Bircham International University is a private unaccredited institution of higher education via distance education. It offers adult degree programs at professional, undergraduate and graduate levels. It is registered in Spain and Delaware. It formerly operated from the Bahamas, or the United Kingdom. It has no recognized educational accreditation in these places.
History and location
According to its website, Bircham was established in Europe in 1992 and is registered in Delaware (United States), Spain, and the Bahamas. According to the 2003 edition of John Bear's guide, Bircham was founded in 1992 in the United Kingdom as Oxford International University (not to be confused with Oxford University), but changed its name in 2000. In 2008 it was reported to be operating in Nairobi, Kenya; the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization has stated that the Crossworld Institute of Professional Studies in Kenya is related to Bircham. As of 2010, Bircham is registered in Spain as a business in the "regulated educational services" and "post-graduate educational services" sectors  and in Delaware as a "nonprofit or religious" organization.
Bircham is not accredited by any recognized accreditation agency. As of July 2010, its website contained a list of accreditations from entities that are not recognized as educational accreditors. Some of these entities, including the Academy for the Promotion of International Culture and Scientific Exchange and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, also list Bircham among their membership or have listed Bircham in this manner in the past. As of 2010, BIU is listed as a member of the European Foundation for Quality in eLearning, a membership organization that does not engage in educational accreditation, and the International Accreditation and Recognition Council, an unrecognized accreditation agency. Neither of these is a recognized accreditation agency. BIU formerly listed accreditation by an organization called Educational Quality Accreditation, which the 2003 edition of Bears' Guide describes as "the unlocatable and unrecognized accreditor for the nonwonderful Bircham International University."
Sources explicitly listing Bircham as "unaccredited" include the Maine Department of Education and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which state that Bircham has "No degree-granting authority from Spain (American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers [AACRAO] evaluation)". The Oregon Office of Degree Authorization considers BIU an unaccredited foreign degree supplier. Bircham's website acknowledges that the institution is not accredited by any agency recognized by the U.S. Council on Higher Education Accreditation. It states that "as a provider of non formal education, ... no further authorization from a Ministry of Education is required."
Because BIU is not accredited by a recognized accreditation body in the countries where it operates, its degrees and credits might not be acceptable to employers or other institutions. Use of degree titles may be restricted or illegal in some jurisdictions.
Criticism and controversy
Quackwatch lists Bircham as a questionable non-accredited school. In 2003, South Florida's CityLink magazine reported that Oregon education officials said that Bircham was "totally bogus". The article quoted former FBI agent Allen Ezell, who investigated diploma mills as part of Operation Dipscam, as describing some of Bircham's promotional claims as "pure hokum".
In July 2007 a Mexican newspaper reported that the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) of Mexico had issued a warning against Bircham International and ten other foreign institutions. The warning identified the schools as having committed academic fraud.
In April 2008 the Nairobi Business Daily reported that Bircham International University was operating in Kenya without authorization, "wooing unsuspecting students to its distance learning classes". An official of Kenya's Commission for Higher Education was quoted as warning that BIU degree certificates would not be recognised. In March 2010 the same newspaper published a correction, stating that the April 2008 story had been provided by a person "who at the time of publication had a partnership dispute with Bircham over rights to represent the university in Kenya". The correction stated that BIU "is a Spanish institution of distance learning and is in good standing with Spanish authorities that offers alternatives to formal adult higher education specifically aimed at adult working professionals" and that its programmes "can be legalized and validated by the Embassy of Kenya in the USA or Spain despite the institution not being registered by the Commission for Higher Education in Kenya".
- Educational accreditation
- Degree mill
- Accreditation mill
- List of unaccredited institutions of higher learning
- ICEX Spanish Companies Info
- Delaware Company Search 3169257
- "Unauthorized Schools and Invalid Degrees". Oregon State Office of Degree Authorization. Archived from the original on May 9, 2013. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- State of Michigan list of unaccredited schools, updated October 2009
- Bircham International University website
- "Unauthorized Schools and Invalid Degrees". Oregon Office of Degree Authorization.
- Bear, John; Mariah Bear (January 1, 2003). Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning. Ten Speed Press. ISBN 1-58008-431-1. pages 192–193
- Mwaura Kimani (April 14, 2008). "Queries over credibility of Spanish institution". Nairobi Business Daily. Archived from the original on September 6, 2008.
- World References, BIU website
- Academy for the Promotion of International Culture and Scientific Exchange website, archived September 28, 2007
- American Association of Drugless Practitioners website, archived July 17, 2008
- EFQUEL members, European Foundation for Quality in eLearning website, Retrieved June 27, 2010
- International Accreditation & Recognition Council website
- Unapproved Accrediting Bodies, State of Michigan, revised February 9, 2009
- Educational Quality Accreditation, by John Bear, Mariah P. Bear, Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning, 14th edition, page 54
- "Non-Accredited Colleges & Universities List". Maine Department of Education. 2007. Retrieved April 16, 2007.
- "Institutions Whose Degrees are Illegal to Use in Texas". Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. 2007. Retrieved July 17, 2007.
- Bircham International University website (accessed October 23, 2013)
- Diploma Mills and Accreditation by US Department of Education
- Institutions Whose Degrees are Illegal to Use in Texas by Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
- Barrett, Stephen (2007). "Questionable Organizations: An Overview". Quackwatch. Retrieved March 13, 2007.
- Schoolhouse crock, City Link, October 15, 2003
- "SEP alerta sobre universidades “patito”", Correo, El Diario del Estado de Guanajuato, July 20, 2007, archived from the original on May 14, 2009 (in Spanish)
- Bircham International University – Correction and Clarification, Nairobi Business Daily, March 8, 2010
- Bircham International University official website