3 Interesting Facts about U.S. Community Colleges!

March 16th, 2018

3 interesting facts about CCs

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18 Facts On Higher Education In Armenia

March 9th, 2018


Armenia regained its independence in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and set out to reclaim autonomy of its higher education system. State universities redesigned the system from one-cycle programs to two-cycle bachelor and master level programs to be in line with other major systems in the world.

The Republic of Armenia is one of the 48 countries that joined the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and the Bologna Process by signing the Bergen Communiqué in 2005. Armenia has since implemented most of the initiatives agreed on by the ministers of education of the member states.

Armenia hosted the Secretariat of the Bologna Follow-up Group from 2012 to 2015 followed by the Ministerial Conference and the Fourth Bologna Policy Forum in 2015.

1. Higher education in Armenia is provided by public and private institutions of higher education.

2. State higher education institutions function under the purview of several ministries but most are under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and Science (MES).

3. Higher education is provided by:

  • Institutes
  • Universities
  • Academies
  • Conservatories

4. The following institutions function in Armenia:

  • 26 State Universities (are autonomous, not-for-profit state entities)
  • 40 Private Universities, among them
  • 31 Accredited Universities
  • 83% of state universities and
  • 76% of non-state universities are located in Yerevan,
  • others in 8 provinces (Marzes) of Armenia

5. Other Ministries and Bodies:

  • Ministry of Defense (oversees 2 HEIs)
  • Ministry of Policy (oversees 1 HEI)
  • Ministry of Emergency Situations (oversees 1 HEI)
  • Mother See of Holy Etchimiadzin (oversees 1 HEI)

6. Universities provide undergraduate, postgraduate and supplementary education in various branches of humanities, natural sciences, science and technology, as well as scientific research.

10. Institutes provide specialized and postgraduate academic programs and scientific research in a number of scientific, economic and cultural branches.

7. Academies are responsible for the development of education, science, technology and culture in an individual sphere and offer programs preparing and re-training highly qualified specialists in an individual field, as well as postgraduate academic programs.

8. Conservatories prepare specialists in the field of music, providing qualification development and postgraduate academic programs.

9. Unified Secondary School Final Examination: In accordance with the Law on Education and the Law on Higher and Postgraduate Education, the centralized admission examinations to HEI has been replaced by the unified secondary school final examinations which are held at “knowledge assessment centers” and the basis for admission and selection.

10. Academic Year: The academic year is typically comprised of two semesters, beginning in September which is comprised of 2 semesters and ending in May with 20 and 22 weeks of duration respectively. Mid-term exams are held in October and March of the respective semesters and final exams are held at the end of each semester.

11. Contact hours: Though the formal weekly workload that students are expected to cover differ by the type of program and institutions, Bachelor degree programs require between 28 to 32 hours per week (sometimes up to 36), Master degree programs require between 16 to 18 hours and postgraduate (Doctorate) programs between 4 to 8 hours per week.

12. Credit System: Armenia adopted the European credit transfer and accumulation system (ECTS) in 2011.

13. Assessment: Examinations and tests are used to assess students’ learning outcomes. Grading systems vary among institutions with some using the 5, 10 or 20 -point marking scales, or 4 scale A-F letter grading.

14.  Assessment in State HEIs: Final evaluation of graduates is conducted by state examination committees which includes the comprehensive examination on specialty as well as defense of graduation work (diploma project, thesis or dissertation) or schemes.

15. Bachelor’s degree programs in preparing specialists requires 4 years, while for medical specializations it is 5 years. The 4-year Bachelor’s degree program ends with a final overall assessment and defense of final paper. The Bachelor’s qualification allows the graduate the right to practice the specialization (except medicine) and access to the next cycle-the Master’s degree.

16. Specialist Diploma programs are in the general humanities and social sciences, mathematics, natural sciences and special professional disciplines, and provide graduates with the professional skills for employment purposes. The Specialist Diploma programs are 5 years in duration, while in the arts and physical education they are 4 years in length. The Specialist Diploma is awarded on successful completion of the coursework with a final overall assessment, including the defense of a diploma thesis. (The 5-year Specialist Diploma programs are being phased out.)

17. Master’s degree programs require the Bachelor’s or Specialist Diploma degree for admission and awarded on completion of a minimum one year of education.  The Master’s degree provides access to Doctoral studies.

18. The Doctor of Philosophy degree program requires the Master’s degree or the 5-year Specialist Diploma and entrance examination for admission. The Doctor of Philosophy degree requires a minimum of three years of study and successful defense of a thesis based on original research.

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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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An Update on The European Qualifications Passport for Refugees 2018-20: from pilot to scale

March 2nd, 2018

After successfully piloting the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees in 2017, the Council of Europe has decided to scale up the project and is preparing the launch of a 3-year project for 2018-2020 under the Action Plan on Building Inclusive Societies.

The European Qualifications Passport for Refugees is a document which gives refugees an assessment of their education qualifications that cannot be fully documented. Through an evaluation of the available documentation and a structured interview with qualified credential evaluators, the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees maps and presents information on the refugee’s educational level, work experience and language proficiency. The goal is to provide substantiated information that can be relevant for employment or internships, qualification courses and admission to studies.

The 2017 pilot project, building on methodology developed in Norway by NOKUT, involved on-site evaluations of the qualifications of refugees in Greece. Coordinated by the Council of Europe, the pilot included the Greek Ministry of Education, UNHCR and European Network of Information Centres (ENICS) from Greece, Italy, Norway and the UK as partners. 92 refugees were interviewed, resulting in 73 European Qualifications Passport for Refugees being issued.

The new 3-year project will launch officially in the spring of 2018, with the Netherlands, Germany, France and Armenia also joining. The project will continue the on-site assessment sessions in Greece and include interview sessions in Italy and other countries. The project aims to expand the pool of trained evaluators and further explore the use of online interviews. It will also reach out to community partners such as higher education institution, local authorities and NGOs with a view to helping the refugees integrate into their host societies.


Stig Arne Skjerven, Director of Foreign Education in NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education), Oslo, Norway, and President ENIC-NARIC


Marina Malgina, Head of Section, Section for Recognition of Refugees’ Qualifications, (the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education), Oslo, Norway.

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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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ACEI Offers Digital Delivery of Official Evaluation Reports and Official Documentation

February 23rd, 2018

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI) is pleased to announce SecurePathway©, which is a free service that allows you to view and print all completed evaluations and documentation via your online secure portal instantly.

ACEI President, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, recently signed the Groningen Declaration at their meeting with global leaders in Australia, which serves the academic and professional mobility needs of citizens worldwide by making digital student data portability happen.

“By signing this declaration, I’ve made the commitment to move forward the crucial need for accurate and secure portals to student data,” Saidi-Kuehnert said. “We at ACEI are not only dedicated to providing the highest quality of evaluation reports based on expert research, but also providing a faster and more secure way to get ACEI official reports, along with the certified academic documentation. It is literally credential evaluations and academic documentation at your fingertips!”

ACEI is making a dedicated commitment to responding to the needs of their clients and providing services to ensure the best delivery method of student data. “SecurePathway is our way of keeping with the rapidly digitized world we live in and the emerging need for student data mobility. In the case of our evaluation reports, it’s the ability to access and review the results without having to wait for the paper document arriving by post,” Saidi-Kuehnert said.

ACEI also provided a blog on the topic of student data mobility. With their comprehensive blog, ACEI stays on top of the needs and trends in our profession. “Digital documents have immense appeal as the preferred medium for content creation, storage, editing and dissemination. In this field, you cannot stay static, you need to adapt to the needs of your clients,” Saidi-Kuehnert explained. “With SecurePathway©, we have answered your need to receive data online securely and quickly.”

SecurePathway is the most secure way to obtain official academic documentation by storing the official evaluation reports and official academic documents on secure servers. Only authorized users are able to retrieve them, making it more secure than paper, which could fall in the wrong hands or lost in the post if sent by physical mail.

ACEI is the premier credential evaluation service that provides fast and quality evaluation reports based on expert research. ACEI is an Endorsed Member of the leading credential evaluation member organization, the Association of International Credential Evaluators, Inc. (AICE), the only organization with set standards. AICE is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education.

Signing up with ACEI’s SecurePathway is free and does not cost the institutions any fees. To receive ACEI expert reports and certified academic credentials via SecurePathway, complete this form.


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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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The European Qualifications Passport: Giving Refugees a Second Chance

February 16th, 2018


Something amazing and unprecedented has happened across the Atlantic. The Council of Europe will recognize the education qualifications of refugees who have fled their homelands with little or no documentation.

The Council of Europe launched the project known as the European Qualifications Passport in 2017 with the goal to help those refugees who had finished high school or completed university studies in their home countries by having their education attainment evaluated.

The European Qualifications Passport as defined by the Council of Europe is:

a document providing an assessment of the higher education qualifications based on available documentation and a structured interview. It also presents information on the applicant’s work experience and language proficiency. The document provides reliable information for integration and progression towards employment and admission to further studies.

It is a specially developed assessment scheme for refugees, even for those who cannot fully document their qualifications.”

The European Qualifications Passport follows in the footsteps of a project already in place in Norway by NOKUT that has successfully assisted refugees without academic documents to gain recognition of their academic achievements through a carefully implemented screening and assessment process. These individuals must demonstrate their level of knowledge and education in order to qualify for the European Qualifications Passport.  The first step is to complete a questionnaire which is then reviewed by an evaluator after which an interview is scheduled. The interview is conducted by at least two individuals, one of whom is well versed in the language and education system of the country where the refugee claims to have studied.


Below is a step-by-step chart of this assessment process provided by the Council of Europe:


View a documentary on the European Qualifications Passport here



Many nations today are facing unprecedented pressure to tackle the migration challenge, and are seeking effective and sustainable methods to screen, assess and recognize the qualifications of refugees. The European Qualifications Passport is a remarkable achievement and a huge step forward in helping refugees by recognizing their education that will help their integration into their host country and making our world a better place.

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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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Don’t Give up, Keep at it! 7 Steps for US HEIs to remain competitive in International Education

February 9th, 2018


The reports are coming in, and they each speak of declines in the number of international students at U.S. institutions of higher education (HEIs). Panic has set in and decisions based on panic never turn out to be sound or prudent. They are short sighted and cause more damage than good.  Panic prompts HEIs to retrench, which leads to laying off staff in international admissions and cutting back on student recruitment. The drop in international student numbers shows itself quickly with a decline in dollars generated from tuition and fees which prompt universities to slash their budgets, cut back on staffing that translate to reduced course offerings and less seats available for prospective domestic students. People forget that the tuition from international students help subsidize a large portion of the infrastructure of institutions, supporting more courses and faculty and more seats available to domestic students. International students also help by participating in the general economy, they are, after all, consumers just like you and me and besides paying their college tuition, they are also spending dollars in the local community.

No matter who or what political party is in power, we forget that the U.S. economy hinges on the global market and our global competitiveness is in trouble, which includes our competitiveness in the international student market. Combining the number of international students in the US government’s net migration target is a flawed policy. We have and continue to have a political environment laden with extreme political opinions where one group is adamantly pro and another passionately against internationalization. Neither point of view is accurate since extremes in any which way tend to be flawed and too simplistic on how the domestic and global market are intertwined and function together as a unit and not separately. The more we remain engaged globally the more we can encourage the coming together of people, ideas and innovations, that will help us better address the challenges that face us.

When the political climate insinuates that internationalization is bad, it trickles down to all sectors of the economy and community, and those of us in international education feel its immediate effects on our campuses and in periphery services supporting our HEIs. Suddenly, there is a dis-ease within the international student community about coming to the US to study. They fear for their safety, they anticipate difficulties in obtaining a student visa and express concern about how they will be treated on arrival at a U.S. airport by customs and immigration officers and by their peers on the university campuses. We have, unfortunately, not been sending a warm welcoming message to the world in this past year and it is resonating loudly and clearly around the globe.

Say what we want, but we live in a competitive world, and when it comes to international education, the U.S. HEIs are competitive to the extent that they remain in the field. Rather than retreating, U.S. HEIs must stay in the game and compete successfully with their counterparts in UK, Canada, Australia, and emerging markets such as China and India. In fact, this is exactly the time for HEIs to collectively work on maintaining a robust marketing and promotion campaign to counter the negative perceptions about international education and students by dispelling myths that deter students from wanting to study in the U.S.

What must US HEI’s do?

1. Intellectual Contribution: Reinforce and Raise Awareness

In an article in The Times Higher Education, Dame Nemat Minouche Shafik, Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science states: “…we need to reinforce, raise awareness of and spread the well-established principles that govern what constitutes a valid intellectual contribution. Practices such as peer review, competitive process for funding research, requirements to publish data, and transparency about conflicts of interest are fundamental to academic life. Most people are unaware of these practices, which are the bedrocks of academic quality and progress – we need to spread the practices to other domains such as think tanks and the media.” These are the hallmarks of U.S. higher education and US HEIs need to carefully craft the language that expresses and conveys this to the public without sounding elitist or academic.

2. Messaging

Which brings us to messaging. Where we seem to have faltered is in our messaging and doing a so-so job at communicating without sounding self-serving. We need to turn things around and emphasize the benefits brought to the community and country by international education and students. We need to use the Internet and social media platforms effectively and share personal stories and progresses in research in a language that is approachable and inclusive, one that will draw in the very camp that is opposed to internationalization. In the same report in the Times Higher Education, Dame Shafik suggests one way to accomplish effective messaging is by “working with thoughtful and effective storytellers to reach a wider public – consider, for example, Sir David Attenborough’s work to raise awareness of the environment or Michael Lewis on the risks inherent in financial markets.” Here are a few suggestions to incorporate in our individual and collective messaging on the unique benefits of international students and scholars:

  • Promotes U.S. foreign policy and international leadership
  • Helps the growth of U.S. knowledge economy
  • Spending by the international students and their dependents contributes significantly to the U.S. economy (approximately $13.5 billion)
  • Education exchange is benefits U.S. education as much as it does the international students
  • Education exchanges enhances and ensures U.S. security

3. Tools to Train an Informed Citizenry

While we craft the messaging to the world outside our campuses, our work as educators means that we must also commit to teaching and training our domestic students to become more discerning citizens. We need to teach them the tools they need that will instill in them an appreciation to be critical thinkers, learn how to distinguish propaganda and disinformation from facts so they are better prepared to engage and debate as informed citizens. Our domestic students will serve as our campus ambassadors and who better than they to welcome the international students.

4. Promote Healthy Debate

From teaching and training students to be critical thinkers, we segue to what is deemed as challenging by most and that is creating a space that respects different opinions and allowing both sides to debate and share their points of view, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel. Absence of this neutral zone for public debate hinders any progress we would like to see in raising awareness on the importance and benefits of institutions of higher education. By allowing and fostering healthy debate on our campuses, we can help broaden the minds of our domestic students who may have a narrow opinion on what it is to be an international student.

5. Promote Diversity and Foster Inclusion

Whether it is our intellectual contributions, messaging, training and informed citizenry, and promoting healthy debate, one thing we cannot and should not forget is that the USA is not a homogenized nation but one that is uniquely diverse whose citizens have ancestry representative of every country on the planet. Simply put, what makes the USA unique is the sheer magnitude of its diversity of people. In fact, this diversity must and should be front and center in our conversation with potential international students. It is this diversity that sets the US apart and we should embrace and promote it.

6. Support Study Abroad

Promoting internationalization on our campuses, is a two-way street. At the risk of sounding repetitive, since this message has been expressed before by others, our HEIs need to demonstrate their commitment by being global leaders in higher education by having in place a robust study abroad program and encourage and support study abroad opportunities for their domestic students, and preferably to countries where learning a foreign language is a prerequisite. This experience will foster a camaraderie and mutual understanding between a returning domestic student from studying abroad and a fellow international student at his/her home campus.

7. Don’t Abandon the Marketing Plan

At the sight of trouble, or a downturn in economy, businesses tend to quickly react and slash their marketing budgeting. HEIs do the same, they cut back on recruitment, outreach, and promotion of their programs overseas. Rather than putting marketing on an indefinite hold, a plan needs to be thoughtfully put into place as to how to keep the messaging alive and robust. The first sign of retreat and defeat is to slam on the marketing brakes when the economy is slowing down. We need to keep the messaging consistent, clear and loud.

If we are not careful and let panic set in, the years of work that have made the US an attractive destination for education for students from around the world will be lost and regaining that competitive edge will take a very long time to recover.

HEIs needs to demonstrate the benefits of international education and international students and their value to the community and US economy. HEIs must not simply accept the current dictates set by government as a given. Rather than retrench and retreat, we need to push on and keep at it!

Is your institution experiencing a decline in the number of international student applications? Please share with us what steps your institution has taken or is taking to address this issue.





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

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Political Correctness: Beware…Be Aware

February 2nd, 2018


The ultimate stigmatization. The curse thrown across both sides of the aisle. It seems that the phrase “politically correct” may need a defender in the current climate and I’m happy to fill that role. I say first, a magic phrase that, should you use P.C. as a slur, might clear things up for you straight away. Listen up. NO ONE IS TELLING YOU WHAT YOU CAN AND CANNOT SAY. Political correctness isn’t a form of censorship, it’s not snowflakes with hurt feelings, and its not a trend. Political Correctness is some one or some ones telling you “Hey, what you said impacts me, or people of my group, in a way that is hurtful.” That’s it. From then on, how you choose to interpret this, and how you choose to react is on you. And there’s not always a right answer. There are times when hurting someone’s feelings is fine, as long as you take responsibility. Just understand the context. Realize the situation is probably bigger than just you or that person. Say what you want, just make sure it is what you want to say.

Political correctness, is a misnomer, and maybe that’s where we get into trouble. Perhaps if it was more appropriately called a “suggesting social awareness” (catchy right?) people wouldn’t feel as though they could play the oppressed or tough-guy card as a reaction. If they knew that all anyone was saying was “hey, I don’t know if you know this, but that makes you sound like an a–hole in this day and age”, it would be hard to react with anything but embarrassment. Unfortunately Politically correct stuck, and a movement forward became a bad word.

So ok fine you got me, Politically Correct is a slur. Fine, we can lose the phrase, language evolves right? HA! Got you! Language EVOLVES. And as such it is good to know whether or not you’re resisting the natural progress of that evolution. Think of PC as not saying Beware! rather, Be Aware! Think of PC, as my generation calls it, woke. We’re awfully good at giving cute names, my generation. But don’t let that detract from how much better a phrase it is. You’re not “correct” your awoken! It’s like the Matrix!

There’s a lot you can say for just being aware of the society around you, but it speaks for itself. The more you know, the more informed your decisions will be.  You know this. I know you do. So just keep reminding yourself of two things. 1. No one is telling you what you can or cannot do. And 2. Don’t be an a—hole.


Alex Brenner – When he is not helping international students as ACEI’s Communications Officer, Alex puts his writing chops to work as a script doctor for Hollywood screenwriters and guest blogs for ACEI-Global. Alex has a BA in English from UCLA and has been fortunate to have travelled to many corners of the world as a child and an adult.

For further information on the international credential evaluations, visit our website at www.acei-global.org or contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org.


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