Indian-American president of US varsity steps down over irregularities in online admissions

Houston, Mar 22 (PTI) An Indian-American president of a university in the US' Texas state has resigned over allegations of improper financial dealings with a vendor and irregularities in admissions into an online programme, according to a media report.

An investigation into the University of Texas at Arlington found improper financial relationships between the university's president Vistasp Karbhari and a private vendor that helped the school provide an online nursing programme, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The investigation, conducted by the consulting firm Protiviti, found that Karbhari allegedly took at least two international trips with executives from the vendor company and allowed the vendor to push for expedited enrollment processes that let under-qualified students enroll into the school’s online nursing programme, the report said.

The vendor was paid more than USD 178 million over about a five-year period, the probe said.

The University of Texas System released details of the investigation late Thursday after several open records requests from media, the daily said.

Hours later, Karbhari informed UT System chancellor that he was stepping down as president effective immediately.

Karbarhi had announced earlier this month that he was stepping down as president effective August 31.

In a letter to UT System officials responding to the investigation, Karbhari wrote that “UTA categorically denies allegations made in the report.” He claimed the report was flawed with lack of evidence, mischaracterised actions and framed the president’s comments in negative light.

The investigation did not name the vendor. However, Karbhari referred to Academic Partnerships, which provides online services for the school, in his response to the investigation, the daily said.

Officials from the Dallas-based company, which works with universities across the country, did not address the report’s findings but issued a statement reading, “Academic Partnerships is committed to our relationship with UT Arlington and to student access and outcomes.” The investigation noted that the vendor inappropriately influenced UT-Arlington officials, pressured university staff on admissions frequently and had a financial relationship with a lower level administrator that was improper and covered some overtime pay for university officials in order to drive up enrollment for the online program.

The investigation found that when UT-Arlington staff raised concerns about the online enrolment procedures, Karbhari dismissed them and even suggested to the vendor that grade average standards be lowered in order to drive up enrolment, the daily said. PTI PMS PMS