November 16th, 2017
A 5-Step Guide to Help Refugees/Displaced People without/limited Documentation
The displacement of people can occur at any time and to any one, whether as a result of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tsunami, flood, hurricane, wild fire, or civil war, political unrest and regional warfare. In the midst of such calamities, people may be left with nothing but the clothing on their back or a handful of memorabilia and essentials. Many fleeing their homes and in some cases, their countries, may leave behind precious documents or lose them in the aftermath of a natural disaster or war. In this blog, we offer our 5-step practical guide to those academic institutions faced with assisting refugee/displaced candidates from outside the U.S.
- Assess the Overall Situation
Reconstruct the Individual’s Academic History
Let’s dive deeper into each one of these 5 steps:
Step 1. Assess the Overall Situation
Assessing the overall situation helps us determine if the claim for lack of documentation is legitimate (e.g. is the source country at war or devastated by natural/environmental crisis and if so, when did this occur?).
- Check U.S. Department of State Website for alerts and country updates
- Search Internet on recent news
- Email the institution
- Telephone the institution (find a native speaker or someone fluent in the language to help you with the call)
Step 2. Reconstruct Academic History
Assessing a refugee/displaced person’s academic history is similar to trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle where several pieces maybe missing. Reconstructing the individual’s academic history will help you have an overview of the person’s studies so that you can begin to fit the pieces together.
Here are some suggestions to help you with this process:
- Follow your institution’s general procedures (as you would all prospective applicants)
- Require completion of an application
- Require submission of official academic documents (this will demonstrate to you what documents, if any, the individual has in his/her possession)
- Conduct an interview
Step 3. Gather Documents
Before you rule out the possibility of available documents, set out to gather any academic and supporting documents you can from the applicant.
These documents may include any of the following:
- Student ID cards
- Registration cards/enrollment slips
- Any transcripts, certificates/diplomas
- Copies of licenses/permits to practice a profession
- Certificates of professional standing
- Awards/Trophies/Medals for academic achievements
- State examinations certification
- Proof of tuition payments/receipts from institution’s bursary
- Sworn statements/affidavits from exiled faculty/school administrators
- Newspaper clippings or Internet links/articles/announcements or printed lists of graduated students
Step 4. Assess Course Competency
Academic institutions have the means to assess an applicant’s competency in a course or courses.
Assessment of course competency maybe carried out through the following:
- Interview by member of faculty
- Assignment of special project
- Offer challenge/placement exam
Step 5. Verify
The final step is to verify and check everything that you have gathered to reconstruct a portfolio of your candidate.
Here are some suggested verification techniques to consider:
- Confirm (again) the crisis situation in the country and institution with official sources (e.g. U.S. Department of State)
- Ensure that you have in-house expertise on the country/region in question and its education system
- Compare and verify any documents gathered against samples from same country and institutions in your archives
- Use social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram for your applicant and LinkedIn and websites for scholars from the conflict area. (e.g.: http://bit.ly/2zd6k1x)
- When in doubt, consult the advice of colleagues through your membership with professional associations in the field, and/or reach out to external sources such as independent evaluation services (Endorsed Members of AICE – Association of International Credential Evaluators).
Association of International Credential Evaluators
ENIC-European Network of Information in the European Region-NARIC-National Academic Recognition Information Centres in the European Union
NOKUT – European Qualification Passport for Refugees
UC Davis “Article 26 Backpack”
The World Factbook Central Intelligence Agency
For information and assistance with the evaluation of international academic credentials, please visit our website at www.acei-global.org or call us at 1-310-275-3530.
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.