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In the latest stage of an ongoing investigation into the study abroad industry, several colleges, including Harvard, Columbia and Brown Universities, have been subpoenaed for information.

After striking big last year with his investigations into the student loan industry, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo turned his sights on study abroad.

Geoffrey Gee, director of study abroad at Penn, said the University has not been included in the investigation.

Hinting that schools and study abroad providers were striking deals that put students at a disadvantage, Cuomo issued a wave of subpoenas in August and September to providers.

Months passed without any news from Cuomo, but the calm finally broke on Jan. 21.

In an online statement, Alfred University announced that it received a subpoena requesting information on Alfred's international programs.

The next day, Brown issued a similar statement. According to The New York Times, 15 schools - which also include American, Northwestern and Fordham Universities - were contacted.

University officials asked the Penn study abroad office to review its practices when news of the subpoenas first broke, Gee said. They found that Penn did not have any such exclusive relationships.

Cuomo's office has not issued any recent statement about the investigation.

Prior to Cuomo's August subpoenas, The New York Times published an article questioning whether some schools and study abroad providers had entered into unethical agreements.

Such agreements, according to the Times, could lead advisors to suggest programs based on personal or school benefits, not the best fit for the student.

However, many in the industry point out that there is no concrete proof of wrongdoing.

"To my knowledge, [unethical agreements] are not widespread," said Marlene Johnson, executive director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. NAFSA promotes international education and exchange.

Gee said the personal gift-giving that spurred investigation into the student loan industry is "not to be confused with the legitimate work" advisors do to ensure the quality of programs. This work can include trips to foreign campuses or membership on advisory boards.

The recent attention to study abroad has already sparked some changes, however. Johnson said that NAFSA recently released guidelines of behavior for study abroad offices, like required disclosure of any relationships they may have with other providers to students.

"It's a good thing that the investigation is . bringing clarity to the proper way to do things," Gee said.

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