August 10, 2012
Whether you represent a school, college, university, professional licensing board, employer, or any other entity engaged in the recruitment, placement, certification or the hiring of internationally-trained candidates, you know that educational systems and academic documents vary greatly by country. No two academic systems are alike and nothing can be taken on face value, even if an academic document “appears” to mirror a US college transcript. Academic institutions and professional groups that don’t have the expertise or knowledge-base to conduct foreign credential evaluations must not avoid this crucial step, no matter how qualified or appealing an international candidate’s portfolio may appear.
In a recent blog on INSIDE Higher Education by Elizabeth Redden, the importance of international credential evaluation and how it may be getting a short shrift shows the pitfalls of what can happen when this very vital step in the admission and acceptance of international candidates is ignored. Ms. Redden cites one U.S. state university, which relied solely on the advice of international recruiters and agents and bypassed the credential evaluation process entirely, only to find itself in hot water with the regional accreditation body. In another blog posted by Jasmin S. Kuehnert, President of ACEI, we are reminded again of the very pitfalls Ms. Redden cites in her piece.
Here are 10 reasons why a foreign credential evaluation prepared by an independent credential evaluation service will benefit you and your institution and the international candidate:
1. Authentication of Documents:
A credential evaluation will verify the authenticity of the academic documents with the issuing institution and compare it against archival documents. Such authentication will provide you with peace of mind that the academic documents are bona-fide and valid for processing.
2. Verification of English Translations:
Many times the academic documents are issued in a language other than English and are accompanied by English translations. A credential evaluation will verify the English translations to ensure for accuracy that dates, course titles, grades, names, and key words match those on the official academic document.
3. Biographical and Academic History Check:
The candidate’s academic history and biographical information will be compared with the academic documents presented. In addition to the applicant’s name, other biographical information like age will be checked to ensure that it corresponds reasonably to the education represented in the documents.
4. Foreign Academic Institution Status:
The credential evaluation determines the official status of the institution where the studies were completed by identifying how the institution is accredited and who recognizes its accreditation. If an institution is determined to not have the appropriate accreditation, the studies will not be evaluated in terms of those completed at regionally accredited U.S. institutions. If the institution is determined to be a Diploma Mill, then this information will be conveyed to the U.S. institutions for which the evaluation is intended.
5. Program Description:
a)Entrance Criteria -The credential evaluation determines the level of the academic or professional program represented by the documents submitted as either lower secondary, senior high school, post-secondary undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate. It will establish the minimum academic criteria for admission to the institution where the studies were completed before the U.S. educational equivalence is recommended. This is an important step in the evaluation process which will assist the U.S. institutions in their decision-making. For example, if it is determined that the international candidate’s academic achievements are comparable to US senior high school graduation, yet he/she has submitted an application for graduate (master’s degree) studies at the U.S. university, the admissions department will be able to properly advise the candidate of his/her eligibility for admission to another degree program at the undergraduate level instead.
b)Length of Study & Conversion of Instruction Hours to Credits – The credential evaluation will determine the required length of full-time study for the academic program evaluated in order to calculate the U.S. semester or quarter credits for post-secondary studies completed and if necessary, determine the level of post-secondary courses in terms of lower, upper division and graduate division.
c)Conversion of Grades into U.S. equivalent Grade – A document evaluation will calculate the grades or final examination results/marks reported on the academic documents into U.S. equivalent grades, and calculate the overall grade point average.
Due diligence in international admissions, professional certification, hiring and job placement of individuals educated and trained outside the U.S. is essential. Understanding international candidates’ capability and qualifications allows you to properly assess and integrate them into your scholastic, professional and work environment. By obtaining the expert assistance of an independent credential evaluation agency, U.S. academic institutions, professional licensing boards and public or private companies can protect themselves against fraud and misrepresentation in the international education arena.
(Note: Please refer to our previous blog “5 Things International Students Should Know About Credentials Evaluation”.)
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