A Chinese company is withdrawing from an American education project designed to fight fraud among Chinese students. The company itself is accused of widespread application fraud.
The Dipont Education Management Group is withdrawing from the Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice. The University of Southern California, or USC, operates the center. The purpose of the center is to study college application information. It also fights fraud among Chinese students looking to attend American universities.
Jerome Lucido is the executive director of the center at USC. He told Reuters that the Shanghai-based company had “withdrawn from the project.”
Jeff Zhu is vice-president of Dipont. He said the withdrawal was based on a suggestion from the project’s advisory board. The board includes representatives of some of the top universities in the United States. Zhu said the group had urged Dipont to withdraw so as to remove “any possible question of who has control over the project.”
Last year, Dipont’s chief executive officer told Reuters he was giving over $700,000 to support the center. Several universities and academic organizations also provide resources and financial support.
The future of the project is now unclear. Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and Pomona College in California are the first schools to withdraw from the project.
Lucido told Reuters at least four other schools are reconsidering their involvement in the project. They are Stanford University, Columbia University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Dipont programs in China
Dipont operates international programs in high schools all over China. The programs offer college counseling services that can cost up to about $32,500 per student.
In 2016, Reuters reported the company was paying officials from 20 American colleges to attend counseling events in China. It also included stories from 17 former Dipont employees who claimed the company is involved in application fraud. The employees said the company made them write essays for students and change teacher recommendation letters.
Brian Perkins, an American, taught at a Dipont school in Hangzhou from 2012 to 2014. Perkins said his employers pressured him and other teachers to give good grades to students that missed class. He said he did so “under protest.”
In a statement, Dipont disputed the claims of academic fraud. The company said it would quickly and “thoroughly investigate any credible evidence of any situation in which the company’s legal and/or ethical standards may not have been [followed].”
Chinese students in the U.S.
American colleges usually reduce tuition costs for students from needy families and those living in the same state as the school. They often depend on students from overseas to pay the full tuition.
The 2016 Open Doors report notes that almost 330,000 Chinese students attended U.S. colleges and universities during the 2015-2016 school year.
Chinese students make up more than 30 percent of all international students in the U.S. But a growing number of colleges have had reason to question academic records coming out of China in recent years.
Hundreds of Chinese companies help students interested in attending an American college or university. Reuters reported that falsifying documents is among the services some companies offer.
Many American colleges and universities require students to take the SAT. The schools consider the results when making admissions decisions. And last January, the College Board, a private company, briefly stopped offering its test, the SAT, in China and Macau following reports of cheating.
I’m Pete Musto.
Steve Stecklow, Alexandra Harney, Renee Dudley and James Pomfret reported this story for the Reuters news service. Pete Musto adapted their story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
We want to hear from you. What kinds of help do educational companies offer students in your country that want to attend college in the U.S.? How often are these companies involved in controversy? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.
Words in This Story
application – n. a formal and usually written request for something, such as a job, admission to a school or a loan
fraud – n. the crime of using dishonest methods to take something valuable from another person
academic – adj. of or relating to schools and education
counseling – n. advice and support that is given to people to help them deal with problems or make important decisions
essay(s) – n. a short piece of writing that tells a person's thoughts or opinions about a subject
recommendation – n. the act of saying that someone or something is good and deserves to be chosen
grade(s) – n. a number or letter that indicates how a student performed in a class or on a test
thoroughly – adv. done in a way that includes every possible part or detail
credible – adj. reasonable to trust or believe
ethical – adj. involving questions of right and wrong behavior
standard(s) – n. ideas about morally correct and acceptable behavior
tuition – n. money that is paid to a school for the right to study there
admissions – n. the act or process of accepting someone as a student at a school