Monthly Archives: April 2015

How to Help Nepal

April 29th, 2015

Image source: CNN

In the recent aftermath of the 7.8 earthquake that has ravaged Nepal with death tolls approximating 5000 and more than 10,000 injured, we would like to dedicate this week’s blog to the people of Nepal by providing links to various relief organizations you wish to contact and offer your help. According to the United Nations, more than eight million people have been affected by the massive earthquake. News reports state the international aid agencies are facing huge challenges in distributing the aid to the survivors because of damaged roads and transport network and loss of power in parts of the country.

A man walks through the rubble of houses damaged by the earthquake in Bhaktapur near Kathmandu.
AFP: Menahem Kahana

Volunteers work to remove debris at the historic Dharahara tower, a city landmark, in the wake of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Niranjan Shrestha/Associated Press)

Please refer to this link provided by The New York Times, for a list of organizations you may wish to consider offering your help.

In case, you’re unable to access the link, below is a list of some of the organizations soliciting donations to support their relief efforts in Nepal:

CARE – CARE is asking for donations for critical relief. The group said its humanitarian workers were on the ground assessing the situation in Nepal and determining the most immediate needs.

Doctors Without Borders – The organization is sending eight teams of health care providers, including eight surgeons, to assist earthquake victims and distribute supplies.

International Medical Corps – The organization’s emergency response team is on the ground in Nepal, trying to provide critically needed medicines and supplies, including hygiene kits and water purification tablets, to survivors. Teams of doctors, nurses and logisticians will try to operate mobile medical units in the hardest-hit areas.

SOS Children’s Villages – The organization has been in Nepal since the 1970s and has three “villages” around Katmandu. It has set up an emergency fund to create safe spaces for children and help reunite children separated from their families.

International Relief Teams
 – International Relief Teams has already ordered a shipment of emergency medicines to be airlifted to Nepal, and is asking for donations to send more.

Handicap International – Handicap International has been working in Nepal since 2000 and has 47 volunteers on the ground distributing wheelchairs and other mobility aids, and providing help with rehabilitation and logistics.

Unicef – The United Nations Children Fund is providing supplies like water purification tablets, hygiene kits, tarps and nutrition supplements for children and families affected by the earthquake, and working with the government and other partners to meet children’s immediate needs.

Habitat for Humanity International – The group says its disaster response teams are coordinating efforts with local government agencies and disaster relief partners, and will be assembling emergency shelter kits.

Mercy Corps – Mercy Corps has been in Nepal since 2006 and has more than 90 volunteers on the ground trying to distribute water, shelter kits, mosquito netting, tarps, cooking utensils, hygiene materials and other household provisions.

MAP International
- MAP International, a global Christian health organization, will distribute what it calls an “interagency emergency health kit” that will treat 10,000 people for 90 days, and supply a container shipment of medicines and supplies.

For general information on the country of Nepal, we highly recommend the Infographic prepared by Work the World, an organization dedicated to providing healthcare internships around the world: Please check it out and learn more. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Nepal.

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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

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15 Facts on Impending Closures of 40% of Universities in Russia

April 23rd, 2015


According to a recent report by University World News Global Education, the Russian Ministry of Education and Science has announced that it will be closing a number of its universities and university branches by the end of 2016. These institutions are being shut down as part of a federal plan the Russian government has implemented for the development of education during 2016 to 2020. The government’s plan is to establish strong federal universities located in the 10 different regions in Russia.

Here are some highlights on these planned cuts:

1. At present, according to data from the Ministry, there are 593 state and 486 private institutions

2. According to date from the Ministry, the state universities have 1,376 branches and the private universities have 682.

3. Seven million students are attending state and private universities.

4. Two million of the students benefit from state-funded education which is about US$3,500 per student.

5. Number of Russian universities will be reduced by 40% by the end of 2016

6. Number of Russian university branches will be reduced by 80% by the end of 2016.

7. According to Dmitry Livanov, Russian Minister of Education and Science, the number of universities since the collapse of the USSR has increased extensively, especially in the number of private universities, as compared to the USSR period. He is quoted in the University World News Global Education as saying: “Unfortunately, the results of our monitoring showed that the quality of education provided by some of them is very poor.”

8. On March, 2016 the Ministry began conducting quality checks of the universities. Results are due on May 30, 2015.

9. Up to 100 universities will be subject to quality assessments within the new few months.

10. Majority of closures will affect private universities that have been determined to provide poor standards of education.

11. The cuts will also affect some state-owned universities.

12. Some of the closed universities, including their faculty and infrastructure, may be absorbed by other universities that are found eligible to continue their operations.

13. Faculty from the national universities have been promised by the Russian government that their salaries will not be cut and the same provision will apply to scholarships.

14. 53.5% of Russians have university degrees, yet, many Russian students, teachers and employers are dissatisfied with the quality of higher education in the country.

15. According to Education Minister Livanov, some of the institutions on the chopping block behaved as “offices for the sale of certificates that do not have an established training process and qualified teachers.”

Please stay tuned as we await the results of the Ministry’s quality checks mid to late this year.

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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

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Dispatches from AACRAO Conference in Baltimore, MD April 12-14, 2015

April 16th, 2015


On route to Baltimore, MD, to attend the 101st annual conference of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officer (AACRAO) I had all the intentions to review my notes for an upcoming presentation, check and reply to emails, work on a training webinar scheduled in May, but instead 30,000 feet up in the air inside a metal tube called US Airways I watched, on my laptop, the new PBS-BBC series “Wolf Hall” based on the novel of the same name by British author Hilary Mantel. From the second the title credits began to appear on the screen, I was hooked. I watched the first episode of this six-part series and found myself captivated by the insanely excellent cast that includes Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell and treachery and politicking at work in the 16th century court of King Henry VIII. How watching “Wolf Hall” was going to impact my attendance at the conference and encounters and meetings I did not know, but one thing was quite clear was that I had to watch the second episode on my return flight to Los Angeles.

Two years earlier in 2013, I attended the AACRAO national conference in San Francisco, CA, where I was invited to serve on the Task Force on International Admissions and Credential Evaluation. Now, with the work of the Task Force completed and the report with its findings and recommendations submitted to the AACRAO Board, a session had been scheduled at the conference to allow a few of us who served on the Task Force to present an overview of the report and offer updates.

But before the session presentation, I first had to locate the convention center, check in, pick up my name badge, head to the exhibit hall and set up the display at the booth. This was the year the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE) had decided to have a booth. As a Charter and Endorsed Members of AICE, I represented the Association as its President & Treasurer along with Chair of the Association, Alexander Afagonov with Globe Language Services, another Charter and Endorsed Member, and two representatives from NASBA, an Associate Member of AICE that included Brentni Henderson-King and James Suh. With the booth set up completed, we joined the other attendees for the opening reception that followed the Opening Plenary presented by Scott Simon, Host of Weekend Edition Saturday on NPR and Need to Know on PBS.

L-R: James Such (NASBA), Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert (ACEI), Alexander Agafonov (Globe Language Services)

This year’s conference offered several sessions related to international education that included topics on China, Cuban Academic Credentials; Russian and Ukraine: Chanted in Higher Education; Brazil: Country Overview; Hong Kong’s Diploma of Secondary Education. EducationUSA representative offered various poster session on China, Ghana, and Mexico.

At the booth, we met a significant number of AACRAO members some of whom said that their institutions do evaluations in house while some were working with outside companies and some were considering looking at other companies, such as those that are members of AICE. I reunited with colleagues whom I had not seen in several years, especially Eva-Angela Adan who travelled with me to Honduras and Guatemala in 1987 for the PIER Workshop on Central America.

At the invitation of the AACRAO Board of Directors, I attended the Reception for Honorees and reconnected with several members of the Task Force. No trip to Baltimore is complete without a visit to Camden Yards, and though I didn’t physically step into the famous sports venue, I was fortunate to have a brief but memorable view of the Baltimore Orioles and the NY Yankees game from the balcony of the hospitality suite along with fellow members of the AACRAO Task Force on International Education and Credential Evaluation.

My last day at the conference ended with co-presenting the session “AACRAO Task Force on International Admissions and Credential Evaluation Update.” My co-presenters included: Michael Reilly, Executive Director of AACRAO; Melanie Gottlieb, VP Enrollment Management at Cottey College & VP International Education for AACRAO; John Yopp, Associate Provost University of Kentucky, Emeritus, Gloria Nathanson, Associate Director of International Admissions & Relations (Ret.) with UCLA and Chair of the Task Force. There were about sixty people who attended the session which was well received. Michael Reilly introduced the impetus behind the formation of the Task Force and its charge, Gloria Nathanson who chaired the Task Force offered a historic overview of the international education and credential evaluation profession, I spoke on the importance of international credential evaluation and reviewed the list of recommendations the Credential Evaluation Committee submitted to the AACRAO Board in ways to foster the profession and its practitioners, John Yopp discussed the current status and challenges of US Study Abroad and International Student Recruitment, studies abroad who presented on the research component of the Task Force’s report, Melanie Gottlieb shared with the audience steps AACRAO Board has taken and considering to take in response to the recommendations submitted by the Task Force. The handout for the PowerPoint presentation will be available through AACRAO. Copy of the Task Force report is already available on the AACRAO website. Please click on this link:

On the return flight home, I had no choice but catch the second episode of “Wolf Hall,” and was quickly lost in this very riveting program with its quiet intensity in which the central characters, like pieces on a chessboard, were being moved to get into positions for the ensuing drama. Though “Wolf Hall” is based on events which took place 500 years ago, the characters demonstrate characteristics compatible to our 21st world.


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

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Steve Jobs’ Hi-Fi System

April 9th, 2015

Steve Jobs, Time, 1982
Young Steve Jobs at his Woodside, California, home, 1982.

I’ve written about the late Apple founder Steve Jobs opting to listen to vinyl over mp3s and CDs at home, even after inventing devices like the iPhone and iPod, which have revolutionized the way the people now consume their music.

I just started reading the new biography on him, Becoming Steve Jobs. While his love for innovation, precision, and great engineering were well-known, I was surprised to find that we shared a few things in common: he had a Porsche 911; was deeply influenced by both Ram Dass’ classic book, Be Here Now and Parmahansa Yogananda’s beautiful Autobiography of a Yogi. I discovered that Jobs also loved his Linn Sondek turntable, which naturally, got me curious about the rest of his home audio system, which he was said to have enjoyed in his 17,000′ mountain estate in Woodside, California. I decided to do some digging to find out more.

Scottish-made Linn Sondek turntable.

In addition to the Linn Sondek turntable, Jobs owned a 200-watt Spectral Stasis-1 power amplifier, a FET-One preamp, and a Denon Tu-750 tuner. Originally, he’d outfitted himself with large Acoustat Monitor 3 electrostatic speakers, which he later upgraded to Wilson Audio Grand Slamm speakers (the brand Henry Rollins has at home,) though I don’t think Jobs’ were the same top-tier, $200K Alexandria XLF model behemoths that Henry enjoys). And BTW, Henry also detests cd’s.

Later, Jobs switched to a MK1 Gyrotec turntable, a costlier upgrade which would have enabled him to better enjoy his precious vinyl. To my surprise, he never owned a tube amp and preamp—both of which allow for a smoother, more organic sound. Still, good solid state amps like he had are known for their iron-fisted control of fussy (think wildly varying impedance curves) and inefficient loudspeakers, specifically with regard to electrostatics.

The one component Jobs did not own at home was a CD player because he loved vinyl and, therefore, outfitted himself with analogue components. Among his favorites records to listen to were works from the ECM catalogue, Steely Dan, the Grateful Dead, and Bach.

All in all, Jobs’ system was on the modest side of high-end. He could have afforded anything, but some say he was a bit of a tightwad. In the same way that he could have afforded the Mercedes Bismarck S63 AMG, he opted for the smaller Mercedes SL55 AMG instead. Maybe he just didn’t want to be recognized out on the road.



Tom Schnabel, M.A.

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons

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21 Facts About ACEI on its 21st Anniversary!

April 1st, 2015

Today, April 1st, ACEI celebrates turning 21! This is no April Fool’s joke. 21 years ago on this day, ACEI opened its office in Beverly Hills, CA, USA and has been providing its international credential evaluation services to students and immigrants from around the world.

We thought in celebrating 21 years of business, we share with you 21 facts about ACEI:

1. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators

2. ACEI’s primary service is international academic credential evaluation where studies completed at institutions outside the U.S. are evaluated and converted into the approximate U.S. academic equivalence.

3. ACEI evaluates educational credentials from all academic levels (e.g. primary/elementary school through high school, university from undergraduate to graduate and doctoral and professional) and from all countries around the world.

4. ACEI also provide a Translation Service where academic credentials issued in languages other than English are translated into the English language.

5. ACEI provides an Experiential Learning Evaluation for Officer Training programs completed while in military service for non-US commissioned officers.

6. ACEI evaluations are prepared by senior level credential evaluators who each have a minimum of 10 years of committed experience in international education credential evaluations.

7. Our processing time in completing an evaluation is 7 business days from the day we receive the completed ACEI Application, educational credentials and fees.

8. We offer three types of evaluation reports: Basic (General) Report; Comprehensive (Course-by-Course) Report and the California Board of Accountancy Report. Each of these reports are designed to meet the specific purpose for which the evaluation is intended: employment; professional licensing; immigration, further education/continuation of studies.

9. We offer 2 types of RUSH services: 24-hour rush and 3-business day rush, if an evaluation is required to be completed faster than our 7-business days.

10. The fees submitted for a credential evaluation provides 2 sets of the evaluation report: an official report and a duplicate applicant copy.

11. ACEI official reports are issued on heat sensitive transcript security paper.

12. ACEI provides customized Virtual Intensive Training programs to U.S. schools, colleges, universities and regulatory boards interested in acquiring a more hands-on knowledge of world education systems and credential evaluation methodologies.

13. ACEI’s blog “AcademicExchange” has been producing weekly blogs since April 2011 and has been viewed by more than 40,000 viewers.

14. The Report is ACEI’s monthly online Newsletter which has a subscription of over 5000 subscribers and provides highlights of education-related news from around the world.

15. ACEI has 2 mail processing centers in the Los Angeles are to facilitate applicants with the delivery of their application packets.

16. Walk-in drop off service is available by appointment only to those applicants who wish to deliver their original documents in person.

17. The ACEI Comprehensive (Course-by-Course) Report in addition to recommending the U.S. academic equivalent of the level of studies completed and any certificate/diploma/degree earned, provides a detailed course-by-course listing of subjects studies with U.S. semester units of credit (for post-secondary studies), U.S. grade equivalents (A, B, C, D, F), calculates the overall Grade Point Average, and classifies course levels for undergraduate studies as lower and upper division.

18. ACEI staff is proficient in several languages including Spanish, French, Farsi, Russian, Armenian, German, Italian, Croatian, Chinese.

19. ACEI senior staff has authored several publications on world education systems that are used by international educators at other credential evaluation agencies, and U.S. colleges and universities and state regulatory boards.

20. ACEI provides 24/7 customer service through its call center.

21. ACEI’s Facebook page has 11,000 followers and its Twitter page has 700+.

Bonus Fact:

22. ACEI has its very own resident office cat, Scruffy, a 14-year old Main Coone with polydactyl paws.


Thank you for supporting ACEI since 1994!

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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

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