Bircham International University revisited
More than ten years ago, my daughter and I included a listing for Bircham International University in the thirteenth edition of our book, Bears Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning. The book, in effect, separates schools into three categories: those with recognized accreditation, those that operate legally but without recognized accreditation (or the equivalent in other countries), and those that we identify as degree mills. Bircham is included in the middle category.
The CEO of Bircham, William Martin, has asked us to revisit that listing, and we are pleased to do so.
For purposes of reference, here is the original listing:
Bircham International University
Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorates
Degrees by correspondence at all levels in business, arts, health, psychology, engineering, computers and science. Website lists “delegation” addresses in Spain, England, United States (a Mail Boxes Etc. in Miami, Florida), Bahamas, Taiwan, China, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia, and New Zealand. We were told that the offices in Spain and Taiwan were the main offices, and that the offices in England and the Bahamas are strictly administrative and do not serve students, The Internet site is registered to an address in Madrid, Spain. Until 2000, the school was called Oxford International University; the name change was motivated, at least partly, by entanglements with its more venerable namesake. Will consider an “honorary doctorate” on submission of your curriculum vitae, two reference letters, and a minimum donation of $1,200 (U.S.).
The main thing we would add, if we were doing a new edition of our book (which, alas, we are not at this time), is to address the concept of non-formal learning, a concept which has become increasingly popular in most European countries in recent years. It is, in effect, a middle ground between formal education and informal everyday learning. Non-formal learning typically occurs in a formal learning environment, but often one that is not formally recognized. It can involve seminars, workshops, colloquia, distance or online courses, independent study, etc. An Internet search will find many articles on the topic. For instance, Malcolm Tight (Key Concepts in Adult Education and Training, London: Routledge) writes that non-formal education is about “acknowledging the importance of education , learning and training which takes place outside recognized educational institutions.”
Bircham International University describes itself as a practitioner of non-formal education . As such, while it operates legally under Spanish law, it is not formally recognized by the Ministry of Education of Spain (where it is located), although the Ministry has acknowledged the relevance of the concept, and, along with other countries in the European Union, is working toward establishing policies to identify, evaluate, and recognize those entities offering non-formal education . Bircham does not have (nor does it need to have) recognized accreditation.
In the matter of the use of the Oxford name, Mr. Martin writes that “In 2000 BIU bought a UK ‘shelf company’ called Oxford International College that was immediately changed to Bircham International College with the purpose of opening a branch office in the UK. We did not get the authorization to issue degrees in the UK, so neither the UK company, nor the office, was ever opened. There was never any interaction with the University of Oxford…”
For many years, we have written that in the process of choosing any school, the prospective student should determine, as best he or she can, that their credential will meet both their current and predictable future needs. Based on the testimonials offered by Bircham, it seems clear that there are many satisfied people with the their credential.
Mr. Martin has asked us to post this message on the DegreeDiscussion.com and DegreeInfo.com forums, and to send a copy to the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization, and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, which we have done. He has also asked us to respond to any responses that may be posted on this forum. But there is really little more we can say, other than that we stand by what we have written.
--John and Mariah Bear, May, 2013
Author/co-author:15 editions of Bears Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning,
Degree Mills: the billion-dollar industry that has sold more than a million fake diplomas, Finding Money for College, Send This Jerk the Bedbug Letter, Computer Wimp, How to Repair Food, and dozens more. BA, MJ, University of California Berkeley; PhD Michigan State University
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