The Tale of 3 Countries and Fake Degree

December 7th, 2018

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There has been a spate of fake degree-related news recently, and though we associate fake degrees mostly with diploma mills, the recent scandals concern legitimate accredited universities. Our focus in this week’s blog is on the sting operation carried out by Israeli law enforcement and its arrest of 40 Israelis holding fake medical and pharmacy degrees from three universities in Armenia and unauthorized distance learning centers set up by a UGC-recognized university in India that awarded degrees not approved by the UGC.

Armenia and Israel: The case of Fake Medical & Pharmacy Degrees

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Early Sunday, December 2nd, Israel police arrested 40 Israeli doctors, medical interns and pharmacists who had presented false credentials to the Health Ministry. These individuals are suspected of having purchased medical and pharmacy degrees from 3 universities in Armenia even though they had never completed studies at the institutions. The 3 universities are St. Tereza Medical University, Haybusak University and Mkhtiar Gosh Armenian-Russian International Universities. Representatives from these Universities are denying any such wrong doings. Israeli police, however, have presented as evidence the diplomas held by these 40 individuals each of which were issued by one of the universities cited. Apparently these individuals had attended institutions abroad to study medicine but did not complete their education, and sought the help of a middleman who referred them to the three Armenian universities mentioned. These individuals had then presented their fake degrees to the Israeli Ministry of Health and passed the accreditation examinations which permitted them to work as doctors or medical interns at hospitals and public institutions in Israel.

Recognizing that this scandal can cast a negative light on the country and its education system, the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia has stepped in and declared it will conduct a full investigation into this situation.

India: The case of Punjab Technical University

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Punjab Technical University (PTU) has been the subject of several controversies this year. First, two of its vice chancellors, Dr. HS Guram and Dr. Rajneesh Arora, were arrested for alleged financial irregularities. Next it found itself under the spotlight for allegedly issuing fake degree. And, then four of its administrators were arrested for helping failed students pass. The fake degree scandal apparently is rooted in PTU’s distance education and examinations branch where between 2010-2012 the University opened more than 2,500 centers throughout India without the approval of the UGC.

The negative publicity and attention brought on by these recent spates of fraud have prompted the PTU to set up a secure portal to assist with the verification of its academic documents. PTU’s electronic verification portal is http://support.ptu.ac.in/

Sources:

North India Times: http://www.northindiatimes.com/canadian-ngo-wes-refuses-to-evaluate-ptu-degrees/

The Print: https://theprint.in/report/rss-man-vice-chancellor-ptu-arrested-fraud/27451/

Times of India: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/PTU-employees-held-for-fraud/articleshow/2860090.cms

ArmInfo: http://arminfo.info/full_news.php?id=26308&lang=3

Panarmenian Network: http://panarmenian.net/eng/news/262984/40_Israeli_medics_arrested_for_buying_diplomas_from_Armenia

HAARETZ: https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-40-israeli-physicians-and-pharmacists-arrested-for-buying-medical-certificates-1.6703483

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Grade Inflation at UK Universities – Update

November 30th, 2018

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According to official figures released earlier this year, British universities have been awarding higher-class degrees at an unprecedented rate over the past decade, with at least one university issuing five times as many first-class degrees last year as it did a decade before. In other words, degrees are being “marked up”, meaning students are leaving with a higher grade than a comparable student in previous years.

According to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, more than a quarter of graduates (26%) were awarded a first-class degree in 2017, which was up from 18% in 2012-13.

Examples of Grade Inflation:

At the University of Wolverhampton, in 2006-2007 academic year, 175 students (5% of the total) were awarded first-class degrees. In 2016-2017, 973 students (28% of the total) were awarded first-class degrees.

In contrast, Warwick University’s proportion of first-class degrees rose from 22% in 2006-2007 to 27% a decade later and the proportion of second-class division 1s remained the same at 54%. But at Surrey University the number of first-class degrees rose to 41% of its graduates in 2017. At Oxford it rose to 33% and at Cambridge to 32% in 2017.

What may be the cause of this grade inflation?

Many within higher education point to public attitudes, including employers’ perceptions that first and second-class division 1 degrees are viewed as “good” (or preferred) degrees. They also point at students who want value for the financial investment made in their education and expect a higher degree classification from their universities for the tuition fees paid. Another factor to consider is the competition between universities in attracting and retaining students that is seen as an incentive.

What’s next?

The government has announced that it will penalize universities found to have engaged in grade inflation.

The Teaching Excellent and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) is the body that rates universities annually. TEC uses a number of criterion including student experience and teaching quality for its assessment of universities.

TEF, which is composed of academics, students and higher education experts who assess higher education providers for the government’s university ratings system, will review the percentage of first-class and second-class division 1 degrees by each institution to determine any grade inflation. If assessments are judged excessive, the university could be downgraded. For example, a university with a gold rating, may be downgraded to silver rating.

The government has indicated that it has extended the TEF rating system to also include subject level. This means that individual subject will be rated gold, silver or bronze.
To start, 50 institutions will be measured in a series of pilots, before the plan is formally included to determine university ratings in the summer of 2020.

Sources:

The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/oct/22/uk-universities-face-grade-inflation-crackdown

The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/nov/28/uk-universities-hold-inquiry-into-degree-awards-policies

The Independent https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/university-grade-inflation-uk-first-class-degrees-second-thirds-government-a8594981.html

BBC https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-45935193

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22nd, 2018

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From all of us at Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), we want to wish everyone a relaxing Thanksgiving. We are thankful for all of you.

According to a 2000 study by Emmons and Crumpler, people who regularly express gratitude have better physical health, more optimism, enhanced well-being, and help others more.* So, don’t worry about the 2nd or 3rd helping this Thanksgiving. Adopting an attitude of gratitude will do miracles for the physique!

Cheers!

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

*If you don’t believe me, here’s the link: https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/10.1521/jscp.2000.19.1.56

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7 Facts on the SQA and SQA Advanced Qualifications

November 16th, 2018

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In this week’s blog, we would like to spotlight the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and their Advanced Qualifications. In partnership with SQA, ACEI has reviewed and evaluated the qualifications in Accounting, Business and Computing for U.S. educational equivalence comparability and credit equivalence.

1. Who is the SQA?

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is an international leader in education and qualifications development. The SQA has over 100 years’ experience in developing qualifications and qualifications systems, and over 20 years’ experience of working internationally in partnership with schools, colleges, universities, employers, training organizations, industry professionals, professional bodies, and governments.
SQA helps individuals realize their potential and achieve their ambitions by providing a wide range of high-quality, internationally recognized qualifications, and associated services.
Based in Glasgow, SQA is a not-for-profit government-sponsored organization, accountable to the Scottish Government, and sits at the heart of Scotland’s world- renowned education system.

2. What are SQA Advanced Qualifications?

SQA Advanced Qualifications are internationally recognized higher education qualifications at certificate and diploma level. They develop the theoretical knowledge and practical skills — such as information technology, communication, and problem solving — expected by a university or employer.
They have been developed to meet the skills needs of employers, and the requirements of education professionals, and also to enable advanced entry into many undergraduate degree programs in universities and higher education institutions.

3. Why study an SQA Advanced Qualification?

Achieving an SQA Advanced Certificate or SQA Advanced Diploma is one of the best ways to progress onto further studies or develop a career.

Here are 3 reasons why:

i. Valued by universities

An SQA Advanced Diploma is equivalent to the first two years of a degree, and is a recognized route into year 2 or 3 of a related degree program at home or overseas.

ii. Internationally recognized qualifications, designed by experts

Sitting at the heart of Scotland’s world-renowned education system, SQA works in partnership to ensure qualifications are suitable, relevant, and up to date.

iii. Career-focused and trusted by employers

SQA qualifications enable our delivering centers to form industry and employer partnerships that provide opportunities to combine studying with on the job experience.


4. Who are SQA Advanced Qualifications for?

They are suitable for a wide range of learners, including: school leavers, adult returners to education, employees who wish to enhance their career prospects and people who wish to start their own business.

An SQA Advanced Qualification is ideal for students who would like to move on to a related undergraduate degree program at home or overseas, students who would like to study for a degree at an English-speaking university, or students who intend to enter into the workplace.

5. How do SQA Advanced Qualifications work?

i. Practical Learning

SQA Advanced Qualifications aim to develop the high-level transferable skills and academic knowledge required for degree study or work. They use practical approaches to learning, with study methods including project and assignment work, group work, presentations, and case studies.

ii. Assessment

Subjects are assessed in different ways. SQA Advanced Qualifications use a variety of assessment methods, such as an exam, essay, project, investigation and/or a practical assignment. Assessment is quality assured through internal verification (using an institution’s own staff) and external verification (using SQA subject experts from the education sector).

iii. Certification

On successful completion of your SQA Advanced Qualification you will receive:
An SQA certificate stating the title of the qualification achieved
A listing of all the units passed and the Graded Units

iv. Progression

Once students have successfully achieved the SQA Advanced Qualification they have a number of options. They can progress on to a degree course in university at home or overseas through our Diploma to Degree program, do a qualification with a professional body, or go straight into employment.

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6. Does the Diploma lead to a Degree?

The Diploma to Degree program is a well-established and successful route for students to complete an SQA Advanced Diploma and then progress directly on to the second or third year of a related undergraduate degree with one of our university partners.

SQA has partnered and set up progression pathway agreements with a number of highly regarded international institutions in countries around the world, covering various progression models, including online delivery. These institutions recognize the SQA Advanced Diploma as evidence of a student’s capability, given the quality learning experience it provides, and as a result offer advanced entry.

Many students study for an SQA Advanced Diploma in their home country before progressing on to a related undergraduate degree either within their own country or abroad. This can be a cost-effective route for those looking to gain international experience while achieving a degree.
Successful graduates can study at universities around the world, including in the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

Please note that individual universities may ask for additional entry requirements.
www.sqa.org.uk/studyoptions

 

7. What about Professional Body Exemptions?

Many professional bodies in the UK and internationally recognize the quality and value of an SQA Advanced Qualification, and in some cases may offer exemptions to criteria for membership. For example, individuals may not have to do an exam as their SQA Advanced Qualification may also satisfy an entry requirement for membership.
www.sqa.org.uk/advancedqualifications

 

CONTACT:

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For more information on available courses and centers in your area delivering SQA Advanced Qualifications: www.sqa.org.uk/advancedqualifications email: articulation@sqa.org.uk

 

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For more information on the evaluation of SQA Advanced Qualifications and their U.S. educational comparability, please contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org

 

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AN EVALUATOR’S JOURNEY

November 9th, 2018

Sunset

When I accepted my mother’s invitation to accompany her to a cocktail party, I did so reluctantly. It was July 1982 and as a freshly minted college grad with a BA in Political Science the last thing I wanted to do was attend a party with my mother. It turned out to be the best thing I could have done as I left the party with not one but three job offers. I decided to forgo the offer of working at a law office (even though I was toying with the idea of going to Law School), or a real estate office (numbers were not my forte) and chose instead to accept the hostess’s invitation to work at her private not-for-profit Foundation that specialized in international education research and evaluation. The rest, as they say is history. Over a course of thirteen years, I worked my way up the proverbial ladder from file clerk, to junior then senior evaluator, assistant to associate director and finally as Executive Director. Bitten by the entrepreneur spirit and an MBA in hand, I bid goodbye to my mentor and founded the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI) in 1994.

You can say I was born into the field of International education. Beginning from an early age by insisting on “working” at the education firm my mother headed in Tehran, Iran, to attending an international boarding school in England, and continuing my higher education in the U.S. The same is true for my brother and business partner, Alan Saidi, who joined me at ACEI in 1996 as Senior VP and COO. Together, we have infused into ACEI our personal life experiences of having lived in three different continents and benefiting from three different education systems (Iran, UK, and USA). Our mission has always been to make ACEI a company that truly cares for and values its international candidates who are considering to further their education, or qualify for employment, immigration or professional licensing or maybe they are displaced because of war and conflict and seeking refuge in the U.S.

Our own experiences, as international students morphed into immigrants, have enriched our understanding of the dreams of international students, immigrants and the plight of refugees. We have also garnered a deep appreciation of world cultures and the varied nuances of education systems around the world. Together with a team of expert evaluators we pride ourselves in ACEI’s history of over 22 years of dedicated service in international credential evaluation and helping our colleagues at U.S. schools and colleges with the admission of students from around the globe. We continue to share our experience through our e-learning training programs, our blog AcademicExchange, our monthly newsletter The Report, and by contributing to publications on world education systems, and speaking at various international education conferences.

As an Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators, we at ACEI are committed in preparing evaluations by recommending U.S. educational equivalencies that are consistent and in compliance with the Association’s Standards and Best Practices.

If you are exploring opportunities of outsourcing your international student credential evaluations, we hope you will consider ACEI as your number one source. You and your international students will receive the personal care and attention we know you deserve. It is our mission to be of service and we want to be your trusted source for international credential evaluations.

Kind regards,
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

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Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Repair America. Go, vote. 

November 2nd, 2018

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In 2004-2005, I was working in a bookstore near my college in New Delhi. Every day after classes, I would ride my motorbike and take over the shift at the store until almost midnight. During those shifts, I sold a lot of books and I read a lot of books. I also met a lot of new people. One of them was an American professor, Marie from Dallas, who strolled into the bookstore with her walking cane and her two wonderful kids. All three of them got immersed in the books, flipping pages, chatting with each other, and making their reading selections.  I could tell they loved being in the bookstore. A few minutes passed by, and Marie and I also started talking about specific readings. I think we discussed Manju Kapur’s “Difficult Daughters” and that got us started. I don’t think I had such a long conversation with an American family before. We discussed many things: education, culture, readings, travels, and more. I had read that open, informed conversations build lifelong bonds. That’s what happened on that late evening in South Delhi’s New Friends Colony Community Center. Who could name it better! I have known Marie and her family since then. Through her, I met Sandy and her family. And then many more friends and families.

After college, I got a fellowship that allowed me to study anywhere in the world on a full ride. My choice to study in the US was strongly influenced by that curious, welcoming, and smiling American family who walked into the bookstore and spoke comfortably about the nuances of culture and social experiences. For a communication major, those things mattered a lot more. Three years later, I went to Appalachian Ohio to pursue a master’s degree in International Affairs. During college, I went to Dallas to celebrate Christmas with Marie. We bought the Christmas tree together, we went door-to-door singing Christmas carols with many friends in the neighborhood. Sandy lived almost next door. A few days later, Marie and her family had to travel while I still had a couple of days to stay in Dallas. So, I stayed with Sandy. That night of 2009 was the first night of Hanukkah. I devoured on latkes that Sandy made and served with sour cream. To have Sandy’s family around was deliciously amazing!

Fast forward three years: I picked up a career in public diplomacy. Fast forward five years: I founded a company on a simple idea of connecting people with people.

Spool back in Delhi in that bookstore: I got interested in another country whose people I had met, trusted, and enjoyed talking with.

That, to me, is the highest form of citizenship and patriotism: stuff you do and words you utter that gets people to look up to your country with a sense of positivity and trust. And you end up taking life decisions based on that positivity. No foreign policy can do it. No IMF can do it. It requires a human decency to appeal to another human decency. So, folks, go out and vote this November. Vote for someone who represents your decency, and who can walk into a bookstore in a foreign land and can make the bookseller fall in love with your nation. You deserve it. America needs it. More than ever.

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Syed K Jamal is the CEO and Founder of Branta. He first came to the US as an international student before moving back to India. Since 2015, he has been living in the Seattle area with his wife, a 5-year old son, Ibru, and three cats who also came with him from India. Syed loves chai and storytelling, would love to host you for both. Email him at syed@goBranta.com.

 

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Value Of Scottish Qualifications Authority Advanced Certificates And Diplomas Recognised By The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute

October 26th, 2018

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI) and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) today announce the publication of the ACEI’s Advisory Services ‘Program/Curriculum Review’ Report, which provides detailed analysis of four of SQA’s Advanced Qualifications.

The report, based on ACEI’s key principles in international credential/program evaluation, gives higher education institutions in the United States a better understanding of the value of SQA qualifications, the calibre of those who have achieved them, and how they compare with programs of study offered in universities and colleges across the United States.

The ACEI has found that SQA’s Advanced Certificate in Business equates to 26 semester units of credit, just under one year of undergraduate study at a college or university in the United States. The SQA Advanced Diploma in Business and the SQA Advanced Diploma in Computing: Software Development each equate to 60 semester units – 2 years of undergraduate study, while the SQA Advanced Diploma in Accounting equates to 62 semester units.

The report, which is available to colleges and universities, also provides sample credential evaluations and sample certificates for each of the four SQA qualifications along with the equivalent US level for these qualifications.

SQA Advanced Qualifications are internationally recognised Higher Education qualifications at certificate and diploma level. They provide students with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills in a given subject that universities and employers expect. The qualifications have been designed in partnership with colleges, universities, employers and industry experts, and enable advanced entry into many undergraduate degree programs in universities and higher education institutions.

SQA’s Diploma to Degree program is a well-established and respected route for SQA Advanced Diploma graduates to progress directly onto the second or third year of a related undergraduate degree.

Many students study in their own country before moving abroad to complete a related degree, entering directly into second or third year. This is a cost effective route for students to gain international experience and achieve a degree.

SQA has partnered with many highly regarded international institutions, who recognise the SQA Advanced Diploma for advanced entry into their degree programs, enabling them to attract a diverse student population.

President and Chief Executive of ACEI, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, said: “At ACEI, we believe in the global mobility and integration of people in the academic and professional community and foster this vision by availing our expertise in international credential evaluation. We are honoured by our partnership with SQA given our shared belief in expanding education opportunities across borders.”

Ms. Saidi-Kuehnert continued: “ACEI’s Advisory Services conducted a detailed analysis and evaluation of SQA’s Advanced Certificate and Advanced Diploma program offerings to facilitate acceptance of these qualifications by higher education institutions and employers.”

SQA Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown, said: “At SQA, we believe that partnership is essential in the education and training sectors and we are committed to working with our partners for the benefit of students by providing them with high quality, internationally recognised qualifications, which will enhance their futures.”

Dr Brown continued, “Our certificates and diplomas have been the foundation upon which generations of successful careers have been built, providing students with the skills and experience they need to excel for over 90 years. Increasingly our SQA Advanced Qualifications allow graduates to progress onto top-up degrees at a host of prestigious universities around the world.”

“We are delighted to be working with the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, to help increase the opportunities available to SQA students who wish to progress onto second or third year study of an undergraduate degree, in the United States.”


SQA

The Scottish Qualifications Authority is an international leader in education and qualifications development.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority is the national awarding body in Scotland – a not for profit government sponsored organisation accountable to the Scottish Government – sitting at the heart of Scotland’s world-renowned education system.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority helps people to realise their potential and to achieve their ambitions by providing a wide range of high quality, internationally recognised qualifications and associated services. We currently offer Advanced Certificates and Diplomas, jointly certificated customised and vocational qualifications in more than 20 countries worldwide.

We have over 100 years of experience in developing qualifications and qualification systems and over 20 years of experience of working internationally in partnership with governments, colleges, universities, schools, employers, training organisations, professional bodies and industry. We have a growing number of international centres, in countries such as America, Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar, Oman, Sri Lanka and United Arab Emirates.

Find out more:

www.sqa.org.uk/advancedqualifications

www.sqa.org.uk/diplomatodegree


ACEI33

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), founded in 1994 and based in Los Angeles, California, USA, is dedicated to promoting the advancement of international academic exchange and understanding through research on world education systems and the evaluation of international academic credentials.

ACEI is a Charter Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE), a professional organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of State, committed to establishing standards and best practices for credential evaluation services in the U.S.

ACEI’s leadership team and analysts bring more than 50 years of solid experience in international education and hands on expertise in evaluation of academic credentials from around the world.

ACEI keeps abreast of international education trends and developments through its on-going research, site visits, partnerships and maintains working relations with institutions, ministries of education, and other education organizations worldwide.

Find out more: www.acei-global.org


ACEI334

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc.
9461 Charleville Boulevard, Box 188
Beverly Hills, CA 90212, USA
T: 1-310-275-3530
website: www.acei-global.org
email: acei@acei-global.org

 

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