OAKLAND, Calif. — The University of California is making a series of changes to help combat fraud after an admissions scandal involving several colleges nationwide.
Fifty people — including Hollywood stars, top CEOs, college coaches and standardized test administrators — allegedly took part in the scheme to cheat on tests and admit students to leading institutions as athletes regardless of their abilities.
William Rick Singer, the plot’s purported mastermind, allegedly told prospective clients that he created a “side door” for wealthy families to get their children into top U.S. colleges, and parents paid him millions of dollars, authorities said. Singer has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice. He is due to be sentenced in September.
Several universities were caught up in the scandal, including Stanford, the University of Southern California, UCLA and Georgetown University.
One of the major steps UC outlined involves monitoring donations to prevent admissions based on financial gain. “We take our zero tolerance policy extremely seriously — even one instance of admissions fraud is one too many,” UC President Janet Napolitano said. “We will implement the strongest tools and procedures to identify and prevent fraud in our admissions practice. We will stay proactive, transparent and accountable as we look to build an even better UC for the future.”
Other steps include beefing up protocols, creating clearer documentation for admission evaluations and improving verification protocols to identify falsified information.
The announcement comes as the fallout from the nationwide admission scandal grows. Last week, a group of students and their parents announced they’re seeking a class action lawsuit against Singer and the universities named in the scandal and demanding a refund on their college application fees.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Northern District of California, accuses Singer of carrying out a criminal scheme that helped less-qualified students gain admission into these universities. “As a result of this coordinated, fraudulent scheme, conducted through wire and mail, unqualified students found their way into the admissions rolls of highly selective universities, while those students who played by the rules were denied admission,” the suit said.
The lawsuit also accuses the universities involved in the case of negligence for failing to maintain protocols and security measures to prevent such fraud.