Bircham International University
||This article needs more links to other articles to help integrate it into the encyclopedia. (October 2014)|
|Bircham International University|
|Motto||"The aim of education should be to teach us how to think, rather than what to think."|
|Type||Distance learning higher education|
Bircham International University (BIU) is an independent and non-profit institution of distance learning higher education that offers specialist programs in fields such as management, business, arts, humanities, natural health, psychology, engineering, computers and science. BIU offers to non-traditional students bachelor's, master's and doctorate degree programs as well as specialist and expert professional diplomas via distance learning. It is registered in Spain and Delaware, and formerly operated from the Bahamas. BIU has no recognized educational accreditation in these places. William Martin is Bircham International's chief executive officer and director.
History and location
BIU was founded by Deric Bircham, William Martin, and Bircham's adopted son, Laurence Cheng Wen. According to its website, Bircham was established in Europe in 1992 and is also registered in Delaware (United States), Spain, and the Bahamas. John Bear, authority on distance education, wrote in the 2003 edition of Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning that Bircham's listed "delegation addresses [are] in Spain, England, United States (a Mail Boxes Etc. in Miami, Florida), Bahamas, Taiwan, China, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia, and New Zealand." He goes on to mention that "the offices in England and the Bahamas were strictly administrative and did not serve students."
BIU is not accredited by an educational accreditation body recognized by the countries where it operates.[better source needed] Its website presents a list of accreditations or memberships from entities that are not recognized as educational accreditors. 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.
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 (CHEA). It states that "as a provider of non-formal education, ... no further authorization from a Ministry of Education is required."
BIU describes itself as a practitioner of non-formal education. As such, it operates legally under Spanish law and is not formally recognized by the Ministry of Education of Spain although it has acknowledged the relevance of non-formal education and, along with other countries in the European Union, is working toward establishing policies to identify, evaluate, and recognize entities that offer non-formal education. Bircham does not have (nor does it need to have) recognized accreditation.
Because BIU is not accredited by an educational accreditation body recognized by 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.
The BIU degree program requires reading a selection of textbooks and writing reports about those books according to the instrucions provided in the study guide. Postgraduate degrees also require the presentation of a final project or thesis. One report (20 to 35 pages) will usually account for 3 subject courses of 3 BIU credits each. One report is usually assigned to cover around 350 to 400 pages of a textbook. One BIU credit accounts for 15 hours of study according to the following pedagogical effort calculation:
- 1 report = 9 BIU credits = 135 hours of learning
- 375 pages reading and comprehension = 54 hours (40%)
- Data organization and report draft writing = 40 hours (30%)
- Report review and formatting = 27 hours (20%)
- Critical thinking, conclusion and opinion = 14 hours (10%)
BIU's students are expected to read assigned textbooks and write reports that show understanding of the subject matter. No laboratory work or face-to-face contact with instructors is required. According to Stephen Barrett, a consumer advocate and the webmaster of Quackwatch, BIU's doctorate programs "bear superficial resemblance to traditional ones, but it should be obvious that two years of distance learning are not equivalent to 4 to 6 years of traditional academic activity."
BIU offers programs in a variety of fields including business, psychology, arts and humanities, science, engineering, and management. Its courses are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Arabic.
BIU also offers non-degree 400 continuing education courses in fields including management, business, communications, humanities, arts, psychology, natural health, therapies, computers, sciences, technology and engineering through four websites. Students receive a course certificate upon successful completion of continuing education courses.
In 2003, South Florida's CityLink magazine reported that Oregon education officials said that Bircham was "totally bogus".
In July 2007, the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) of Mexico issued a notice stating that degrees lacking RVOE (Official Recognition from the Mexican Government) will not be validated by the SEP. Degrees via online or distance learning issued by foreign institutions like Bircham University will not be recognized by the SEP.
In April 2008 the Nairobi Business Daily reported that Bircham International University was operating in Kenya without authorization. In March 2010 the same newspaper published a correction, stating 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 programs "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". An official of Kenya's Commission for Higher Education was quoted as warning that BIU degree certificates would not be recognized. In 2013, BIU directors state that BIU does not have any presence in Kenya nor any collaboration with other any college or educational institution in Kenya.
In 2013, Stephen Barrett, conducted a skeptical review concluding that BIU offers what amounts to supervised textbook reading plus credentials that suggest bearers have considerably more formal education and expertise than they actually have. The requirements for its degrees are much less than those of universities accredited by CHEA-recognized agencies. Most of BIU's teachings are straightforward, but some promote pseudoscientific concepts and practices. None of its health-related programs—by themselves—provide an adequate basis for clinical practice. He includes Bircham in the Quackwatch lists as a questionable non-accredited school, but also admits that at least 90% of BIU's programs and course appear to be straightforward and fact-based.
John Bear considers that "in the process of choosing any school, the prospective student should determine, as best he or she can, if their credentials will meet both their current and predictable future needs." Based on the testimonials offered by Bircham University, it seems clear that there are many students who are satisfied with the their credentials.”
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- Bircham International University official website