University College Admission Bribery Scandal

Global Ed

Nicknamed “Operation Varsity Blues”, the University College admissions scandal in the US caused waves around the world, highlighting that corruption within the University College admissions process is far reaching and part of a vast and intricate criminal conspiracy.

Over the past year, a number of high profile court cases have brought to justice the perpetrators of a large criminal conspiracy, including former CEOs, Hollywood actresses, university athletics coaches and college officials. Parents have paid to help their children cheat on entrance exams to prestigious colleges such as UCLA, USC, Stanford, Yale and Georgetown.

Charges include bribery, conspiracy to commit racketeering, fraudulently doctoring examination results or exam scripts, and even attaching false photographs in order to feign sporting achievements and gain a precious sports’ scholarship.

At the top of this conspiracy, and now facing 65 years in prison and fines of $1.25 million, is William Rick Singer, head of the two firms involved: Key Worldwide Foundation and the Edge College and Career Network. He admitted to unethically assisting over 700 parents in gaining entrance to Colleges. There were atleast another 51 people involved. Singer used over $25 million between 2011 and 2018 to fraudulently improve exam scores and bribe Colleges.

The Price of Fame

Most recently, high profile celebrities have pleaded guilty to fraudulently doctoring exam entrances.Of some of the most high profile parents to have been part of the scheme is Felicity Huffman, who has pleaded guilty to paying $15,000 to have her daughter’s exam answers secretly corrected. Huffman has been sentenced to 14 days in prison for her involvement.The Desperate Houswive’s actress also has to carry out 250 hours of community service and pay a fine of $30,000.

In a tearful statement following her sentencing, Huffman apologised, not only to her own daughter (who she claims knew nothing of the doctored scores), but also to the thousands upon thousands of students worldwide who work hard to obtain places at prestigious institutions. She apologised to those parents who have to work hard “everyday and make tremendous sacrifices to support their children.”

Reiterating this point about the broad sweeping public injustice is Andrew Lelling, the US attorney who led the prosecution: “This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud… There can be no separate college admissions system for the wealthy, and I will add there will not be a separate criminal justice system either.”

The sentencing has been heavy in order to acknowledge the gravity and scale of this scandal, which has no doubt directly impacted upon thousands of families and hardworking students. It is the largest case of its kind to be brought to prosecution by the US justice department.

What Does This Mean for the College System?

This scandal has been exposing for the US University College admissionsprocess, with bribery appearing to be more widely accepted that people would imagine. During a time of political disparity, concepts of equality have been high on the agenda of public sentiment in American. The addressing of these corrupt practices within the education system go hand-in-hand with that. Transparency is likely to become thrust into the light with the admissions system, in hope of making the process and access to Higher Education more open and clear. At least, that seems to be the hope.

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Global Ed


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