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 is a private, unaccredited institution of distance-learning higher education. It is registered in Spain and Delaware, and formerly operated from the Bahamas. It lacks recognized educational accreditation.
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." Bear's Guide states 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.
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. While it operates legally under Spanish law, it is not formally recognized by the Ministry of Education of Spain. Because BIU is unaccredited, 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.
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.
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- Bircham International University official website