University of Northern Virginia

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Coordinates: 38°49′54.7″N 77°12′27.4″W / 38.831861°N 77.207611°W / 38.831861; -77.207611

University of Northern Virginia
Type For-profit/Not accredited
Active 1998–2014
Chancellor Ali Dastmalchi
Location Annandale, Virginia, United States
Colors Yellow and green
University of Northern Virginia is located in Northern Virginia
University of Northern Virginia
Location in Northern Virginia
University of Northern Virginia is located in Virginia
University of Northern Virginia
Location in Northern Virginia
University of Northern Virginia is located in the US
University of Northern Virginia
Location in Northern Virginia
UNVA, Annandale Lobby

The University of Northern Virginia (UNVA) was an unaccredited for-profit private undergraduate and graduate university in Annandale, Virginia, The university offered bachelors, Masters and doctoral degrees. Although UNVA was not well known within the United States, it called itself the most popular American university for students from India.[1][2]

UNVA has received government scrutiny and media coverage for its academic and immigration practices. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided UNVA offices and informed school officials on July 28, 2011, that the government was ending UNVA's authorization to admit foreign students.[2] Kapil Sibal, a minister in India's current cabinet, compared UNVA to a "sham university," stating UNVA does not have acceptable accreditation.[3] Although media sources in India speculated that UNVA would close permanently in 2011,[4] the university remained open[5] and moved to South Dakota in 2013 when the Commonwealth of Virginia revoked its license to operate in that state. On October 1, 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ended UNVA's authorization to admit foreign students.[6][7]

In October 2013, UNVA announced its move to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.[8] At its new location, UNVA is facing scrutiny as well. UNVA is investigated by the South Dakota Attorney General's office, and its office suite sits empty.[9] As of March 6, 2014, UNVA has removed the references to their new location in South Dakota from their website.[10]

Ownership and governance[edit]

UNVA's founder and majority owner is Daniel Ho, an entrepreneur who owns Super Q Mart International Food, which operates three grocery stores in the Washington, DC, area. It is headed by a chancellor.[1] Chancellor David V. Lee resigned on August 19, 2011, stating that "discussions of my personal life have become a distraction for students and friends of UNVA."[11] His resignation came after The Smoking Gun reported that Lee was involved with sadomasochistic sexual activities.[12][13] Habib Khan took his place as chancellor.[11] On Aug. 9, 2012, Habib Khan resigned as Chancellor. The new chancellor is the former Academic Dean of UNVA, Ali Dastmalchi.[14] Ho is the registered agent.[15]


A March 2011 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education compared UNVA's enrollment practices and business model to those of Tri-Valley University, a California institution that was forced to close after facing an investigation for visa fraud.[1] The Chronicle article states that UNVA enrolls Indian students who work full-time in "internships," without being required to attend actual classes.[1]

UNVA was authorized by the United States government to enroll non-immigrant alien students.[16] On July 28, 2011, when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security raided the university offices, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement suspended UNVA's SEVP approval and informed UNVA of the intent to revoke the SEVP approval.[17] The school, however, maintained SEVP approval after the raid. Students are required to show they are attending classes and stayed in status for their visa.[18]


UNVA was formerly accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, but this accreditation was revoked for unspecified reasons on August 6, 2008.[1][19][20] The revocation of UNVA's accreditation led the Singaporean Ministry of Education to stop organizations in the country offering UNVA courses, affecting about 270 students. Singaporean educators and students called for more rigorous checking of academic standards.[21] As of January 2010, the university was an applicant for Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation.[22] As of August 2011, UNVA was not included on the SACS list of accredited, candidate, and applicant institutions.[23] The University of Northern Virginia was certified to operate by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) as a non-accredited institution.[24]

In the past, UNVA claimed accreditation[25] by the American University Accreditation Council, which is not a recognized accreditation agency in the United States.[1] The accreditor lists its address as the same as the site of a car repair shop owned by the Chairman of the university, while the listed phone number has an answering machine recorded message saying "This is D'Angelo, so get at me back."[17] UNVA also claimed to have received full accreditation from an EU accreditation body for its Prague branch,[26] but a closer examination of the accreditation certificate[27] showed that the Swiss accreditation agency EduQua had only accredited the MBA program of the Prague branch of the Swiss institution Victoria University.[28][29]

At one time, UNVA published a website admitting that it is not accredited.[30]


Four to twenty partner institutions grant UNVA degrees and allow students to enroll in UNVA courses.[1] For example, students can enroll in UNVA business courses at Shines College in Singapore. In 2008, Shines College students were reported to be confused and unsure how they would be affected by news that UNVA had lost accreditation in the United States.[31]


In 2007, UNVA Properties, an investment group associated with UNVA, provided financing to Myers University (subsequently renamed Chancellor University) in Cleveland, Ohio, allowing that financially troubled non-profit school to continue operating.[32][33] It was alleged that UNVA Properties wanted to acquire Myers University's regional accreditation for for-profit use.[19][33]

In October 2009 it was reported that UNVA had sued Tiffin University, a private university based in Ohio, alleging that Tiffin had unlawfully attempted to "divert" students from UNVA's Prague school to Tiffin's newly established school there. Tiffin denied the claims.[34]

One of the university's former accountants pleaded guilty, in May 2010, to stealing more than $225,000 from the university.[35]

On July 28, 2011, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security raided the university, hauling away computers and boxes of paperwork and notifying the university that it may lose its ability to accept foreign students.[17] UNVA, which had been authorized to issue 50 I-20 forms documenting that students were engaged in full-time study, had 2400 students on their books, 90% from India.[36]

On July 16, 2013, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia revoked UNVA's license to operate because the institution was not accredited by a recognized accreditor, forcing the institution to close.[37][38][39][40][41] The university subsequently moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota,[8] where it reincorporated on August 23, 2013.[15]

On October 1, 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ended UNVA's authorization to admit foreign students.[6]

On August 4, 2014, UNVA was sued by the state of South Dakota and Minnehaha county for violating a SD state law that prohibits universities from operating in SD without accreditation.[42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Tom Bartlett, Karin Fischer, and Josh Keller, Little-Known Colleges Exploit Visa Loopholes to Make Millions Off Foreign Students, The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 20, 2011
  2. ^ a b "ICE Raids University of Northern Virginia Offices". MSNBC. July 28, 2011. Retrieved July 29, 2011. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b "Update for University of Northern Virginia Students". 
  7. ^ "SEVP Certified Schools" (PDF). January 15, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Ali Dastmalchi (October 7, 2013). "Letter informing students about South Dakota" (PDF). University of Northern Virginia. 
  9. ^ Dirk Lammers (February 28, 2014). "Relocated Virginia university raises questions in South Dakota". 
  10. ^ "Virginia university removes SD campus references". Washington Post. March 6, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Lee Resignation letter, August 19, 2011, UNVA official website (accessed August 19, 2011)
  12. ^ Jeane MacIntosh, Sex-tracurricular college boss, New York Post, August 2, 2011
  13. ^ Rachel Quigley, University chancellor, 64, exposed as sadomasochistic, suburban sex-dungeon master, Daily Mail Online, August 20, 2011
  14. ^ Message from Chancellor UNVA official website (accessed September 3, 2012)
  15. ^ a b "University of Northern Virginia, Inc.". South Dakota Secretary of State. Retrieved August 10, 2015. 
  16. ^ Accreditation at UNVA official website (accessed May 25, 2010).
  17. ^ a b c Tom Bartlett, Karin Fischer, and Josh Keller, Federal Agents Raid Virginia Institution That Draws Many Students From India, The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 29, 2011
  18. ^ "Herguan Students in Limbo After Feds Downgrade College Status". India West. 9 August 2012. 
  19. ^ a b Andy Guess, "Rescue Mission or Hostile Takeover?", Inside Higher Ed, December 17, 2007.
  20. ^ Accreditation Denied, Withdrawn or Conditioned, Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools website, accessed August 28, 2009
  21. ^ Sandra Davie (September 15, 2008). "Stop these degree courses, school told". Straits Times. Singapore. 
  22. ^ Institution Details, SACS website, accessed January 6, 2010
  23. ^ SACS Membership Directory, accessed August 25, 2011
  24. ^ Private & Out-of-State Colleges & Universities Certified to Operate in Virginia, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia website, accessed July 5, 2010
  25. ^ University of Northern Virginia,, accessed March 31, 2010
  26. ^ Accreditation at the Wayback Machine (archived January 25, 2012)
  27. ^ UNVA Prague accreditation certificate, at UNVA official website, accessed October 24, 2011
  28. ^ VU Certified By EduQua at the Wayback Machine (archived March 24, 2016)
  29. ^ Victoria University Programs at the Wayback Machine (archived October 22, 2011)
  30. ^ UNVA Accreditation at the Wayback Machine (archived April 13, 2012)
  31. ^ Sandra Davie, 270 Shines College students here in a fix, The Straits Times, September 26, 2008
  32. ^ Eric Hoover, Deal Allows Survival of a Beleaguered Nonprofit University in Cleveland, The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 17, 2007
  33. ^ a b Marilyn H. Karfeld, Court, others struggle to save Myers University, Cleveland Jewish News, January 31, 2008
  34. ^ Erica Blake, "Universities in suit over campuses in Prague: N. Virginia says Tiffin diverted its students", Toledo Blade, October 26, 2009.
  35. ^ "Former Accountant for University of Northern Virginia Pleads Guilty to Stealing $225,000", FBI Washington Field Office, May 26, 2010.
  36. ^ "Another varsity being probed for fraud". Press Trust of India. July 29, 2011. Archived from the original on August 2, 2011. 
  37. ^ Bre Payton (July 17, 2013). "University of Northern Virginia forced to close, leaving students in limbo". Virginia Bureau. Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity. 
  38. ^ "Agenda Book, July 15-16, 2013" (PDF). State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. p. A-30. 
  39. ^ Bre Payton, Carten Cordell (July 19, 2013). "Soon-to-be shuttered VA university had history of accreditation problems". Virginia Bureau. Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity. 
  40. ^ State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (July 19, 2013). "Notice Regarding Revocation of University of Northern Virginia" (PDF). 
  41. ^ Nick DeSantis (July 22, 2013). "Virginia Orders Unaccredited U. of Northern Virginia to Shut Down". 
  42. ^ "State Tells 'University' to Get Outta Town". August 8, 2014. 

External links[edit]