May 7th, 2016
Unlike many countries in the world, the United States does not have a Ministry of Education or a centralized government body that oversees the country’s entire education system. The federal or national government of the U.S. does not have authority over education at any level. The task of evaluating the credentials of internationals mainly rests with private non-governmental agencies.
As the world’s leading host country of international students and scholars, institutions within the U.S. can either look into ways of funding evaluation services internally or outsourcing them to an evaluation agency. Some educational institutions—typically with a large international population—have a tradition of providing international credential evaluations as part of the admissions process and are fully equipped to do so. Others, however, do not have an evaluation process in place and yet face increasing numbers of students and immigrants who have studied outside the U.S. For the latter, outsourcing foreign credential evaluations can be an excellent and helpful option.
The pros of doing evaluations in-house by some institutions appear to be based on the belief that they have control over the process from start to finish, that their equivalency decisions are consistent, and that they are able to reach these decisions based on the knowledge they have of their institution’s policies. Many of the deterrents or cons to preparing credential evaluations in-house are financial, lack of experienced evaluators and access to a robust reference library containing historic and current reference material and publications on world education systems.
The benefits of outsourcing your institution’s international credential evaluations can be summarized as the following:
- Savings – If the student obtains and pays for an evaluation provided by an evaluation service, it costs the institution nothing. In addition, the cost for an evaluation which is between $95 – $185 is a miniscule faction of the cost the student will have to pay for tuition at the institution but the benefits to the student are ten fold in that they may receive transfer credit for their evaluated coursework and/or be admitted to an advanced program based on their previous studies and avoid having to start their education over. In the case of an individual seeking employment or professional certification, the cost for the evaluation is also a miniscule fraction of what their future earnings will be based on the employment they are able to secure and/or the license they will receive to practice their field.
- Time – The time dedicated to evaluating credentials which requires the vetting of the documents and verifying their authenticity, researching the education system to determine the status of the institution, length and level of the program studied, grading practices, and course description can be directed to focus on the other critical tasks in the admission office.
- Resources – The resources that would have gone into creating an evaluation department which includes hiring and training of personnel, funding continuing education, building a resource library, tracking changes in educational systems, verifying the authenticity of documentation, collecting and maintaining a database of documentation and evaluations, will be available for recruiting, selecting, admitting, and advising students.
- Multi-Purpose – Both the international candidate and U.S. institution receive an objective evaluation of the individual’s academic achievement that can be used in the future by the candidate for purposes such as immigration, employment, graduate or doctoral study at another U.S. institution, or professional licensing.
- Manage Risk – Protecting your institution or organization from fraudulent documentation and misrepresentation that can jeopardize reputation and accreditation. By allowing experienced professionals with in-depth knowledge of world education systems and hands-on experience of evaluating academic credentials you will protect your institution against fraud.
- Access to Expertise – An indirect benefit of outsourcing your international credential evaluation needs is that it gives you access to the evaluation company’s resources such as its knowledge and experience, online tools and training.
The continued flow of internationals coming to the U.S. for further education, career and economic advancement necessitates the evaluation of their academic credentials. An on-going relationship with an evaluation service leads to consistency in the placement of students over time and across educational systems. It also provides the institution with an expert resource to consult when questions arise about credentials and placement.
In our next blog we will share what criteria you need to employ when selecting a service to outsource your international credential evaluations.
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.