Tunnel Rat posted on September 10, 2017 02:36

Desperate, unqualified slumdog students are flooding the IT job market.   From Mother Jones...

Inside the Growing Guest Worker Program Trapping Indian Students in Virtual Servitude

And how American universities are acting as willing partners.

...According to data I requested under the Freedom of Information Act, UCM ranked 26th in the number of approved OPTs in the workforce since 2011, behind elite schools like Columbia and Carnegie Mellon. But also ahead of UCM in the rankings was Northwestern Polytechnic University, a California school that BuzzFeed exposed in 2016 for enrolling thousands of foreign students—making up 99 percent of its student body—but having no full-time, permanent faculty. While graduates from name-brand schools frequently found their way to Fortune 500 companies like Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Google, and Apple, UCM graduates  seem indistinguishable from those who attended Northwestern Polytechnic—both often move straight from the classroom to obscure tech firms.

As UCM’s Indian population has surged, problems with the OPT program have emerged. Promatrix Corp.—a New Jersey firm that sent representatives to a UCM career fair in the spring of 2015—was ensnared in an elaborate sting operation set up by the US government in which federal agents created a fake school, the University of Northern New Jersey, to trap companies misusing the student visa system. In early 2016, the Justice Department brought a complaint against the firm’s CEO and managing director, Tejesh Kodali, and another employee for conspiracy to commit visa fraud and harbor immigrants for profit. Kodali pleaded guilty to a visa fraud conspiracy charge in late 2016.

There’s no legal obligation for schools to vet employers recruiting on campus, according to Edwin Koc of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the professional association for career service counselors. And in the case of public universities, these counselors have to be careful to avoid discriminating against a particular type of firm.

With little oversight from their institutions, students can land at body shops like SCM Data and MMC Systems, two East Coast firms that were accused by a Homeland Security agent in a 2015 court case of coaching students to lie to the govern­ment about their work to obtain H-1B visas. Court documents also claim that the companies failed to pay some guest workers, despite promises of $27 an hour.

Prathiba Kalyan, a New Jersey-based staffing specialist who places body-shop consultants with her clients, says the OPTs she has encountered are “just left out to fend for themselves. These institutions that are just spewing out these degrees aren’t making any attempt to give them a career path.”

When I asked UCM’s dean of international affairs, Joseph Lewandowski, about the high number of alumni ending up at body shops, he called the trend “alarming.” But UCM isn’t alone. A computer science professor at Central Michigan University said approving students’ applications for OPT at the school amounted to double-­checking to make sure that forms were filled out correctly. “All I needed was a piece of paper from an employer,” the professor told me. “They didn’t even have to tell me how much money they were paying. They just had to tell me they’re employed.”

In 2015, Central Michigan awarded more than 150 master’s degrees in computer science, three times more than it had handed out the year prior. Nearly 85 percent of them went to international students, the bulk from India. According to department chair Pat Kinnicutt, the school temporarily offered in-state tuition to foreign students and didn’t require a minimum score on the GRE. The floodgates opened. In 2016, it rescinded both perks.

“The large number of students definitely impacted the quality of education—lowered it,” Kinnicutt said. Unsurprisingly, almost all students took opportunities to work in the United States, including via OPT. “All our students do get jobs,” he said.

- Vineet Nayar, CEO, HCL Technologies

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