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NBC 7 San Diego
Xanthi Gionis, founder and dean of Aristotle University at a downtown news conference Feb. 7.
State regulators ordered Aristotle University in Carlsbad to shut down or face a fine. The school must also stop enrolling students.
The Bureau for Postsecondary Education gave NBC 7 a copy of a letter they sent to Aristotle University. Read letter here
In the letter, the agency says the university has been operating without a license.
If Aristotle University does not comply, the letter states, co-founder and dean Xanthi Gionis will be fined $50,000.
A spokesperson for the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, Russ Heimerich said Gionis had not yet responded to the letter.
She did not return NBC 7’s requests for comment on the letter.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also launched an investigation into Aristotle University.
The DHS oversees the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) which manages schools and student visas.
Special agents want to know how Aristotle University was authorized to issue student visas, which they said is a stringent process.
The investigation was launched after an NBC 7 Investigates story revealed that some of the students say they used their life savings to attend the school for a Master's Degree in Public Health.
On its website, which has now been taken down, Aristotle University claimed it was licensed by the Bureau for Private Post-Secondary and Vocational Education, but a spokesperson from that bureau told NBC 7 there is no record of it ever being
licensed by the state.
Students say they attended class once a week for months, with little instruction.
Students also claim Xanthi Gionis threatened to take away their visas and have them deported if they were late on tuition payments.
Gionis challenged the allegations against the school first brought to light and reported by the NBC 7 investigation.
“The allegations against Aristotle University are ridiculous and unfounded,” she said at a news conference held last month.