Monthly Archives: July 2018

Facts on the Bahá’í Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), Iran

July 27th, 2018

bahai
Artist: Caňo image source: link

From time to time, we are asked about the status of the Bahá’í Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), Iran, and how to evaluate the credentials of its graduates.

The Baha’is are members of a persecuted religious minority in Iran. The BIHE is not recognized by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Iran as the Iranian government does not recognize the Bahá’í faith. The followers of the faith face daily persecution and denied access to higher education. The BIHE was formed by former faculty/professors of universities in Iran who were dismissed from their posts and began offering instruction privately. Since one of the key elements of evaluating international credentials is determining the recognition/ accreditation of the institution by the appropriate official body, e.g. MOE, BIHE graduates continue to face challenges.

We came across this excellent white paper, by Mina Yazdani at Eastern Kentucky University. Mina is of the Bahá’í faith and had been a 4th year medical student at Shiraz (Pahlavi) University. She was, like all Iranian Bahá’ís expelled from the university after the victory of the Islamic revolution.  Mina’s article is deeply insightful and discusses the history of Bahá’í faith, the persecution of Bahá’ís and origins of the BIHE.

There is a 2014 documentary To Light a Candle, produced by Maziar Bahari, an Iranian journalist and the subject of Jon Stewart’s film Rosewater that focuses on Kamran and Kayvan Rahimian, brothers who studied and later taught at BIHE. Their father was imprisoned, tortured and killed by the regime at the beginning of the 1979 Iranian Revolution for sheltering other Bahá’ís and for not converting to Islam. The story of the Rahimians is emblematic of the wider Iranian Bahá’í experience.

To Light a Candle has already been screened for the public several hundred times around the world, at locations such as public libraries, university campuses and community centers. The trailer to the documentary is available in this link on YouTube.

The following list of facts is sourced from the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education’s website:  Source: http://www.bihe.org

BIHE at a Glance

  • BIHE was founded in 1987
  • In the first year of its establishment, 1987, students were accepted in two fields of studies, namely sciences and humanities
  • BIHE has five faculties with 5 associate programs, 18 undergraduate degree programs and 14 graduate programs
  • BIHE offers over 1050 courses ranging from Persian Literature to Applied Chemistry.
  • BIHE has a combined faculty and administrative staff of over 955 members
  • An average of 1000 students apply to BIHE every year
  • BIHE greatly benefits from its Affiliated Global Faculty (AGF) – an increasing resource of volunteer professors from around the world that assist with the development, implementation and instruction of the BIHE courses
  • BIHE uses a unique combination of online and offline learning
  • BIHE currently accepts about 450 students into its first-year programs
  • BIHE applicants must conform to the same rigorous academic standards as other students in Iran. They must pass the national entrance exam, and meet all the BIHE academic requirements
  • BIHE graduates have been accepted at more than 87 different university graduate programs outside of Iran (for a complete list of universities accepting BIHE graduates, please click here)
    BIHE Email: registrar.office@bihe.org

Although the Iranian government does not recognize the BIHE and its degree programs, BIHE has been able to ensure that universities outside Iran accept its students and recognize their studies. Please read the article published by Quartz that shares the story of one Bahá’í graduate who sought admission to the University of California Berkeley’s graduate school which requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. The University’s Dean of graduate studies chose to make an exception for BIHE and decided “that the requirement would not be held against student applying to be a student in graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley.” The student was admitted and later graduated with the Master’s degree, making her the first BIHE to be admitted to UC Berkeley.

We look forward to hearing news of more BIHE graduates having similar success stories.

Additional Reading & Links:

CNN “Iran Bans Underground University”

https://www.cnn.com/2011/11/10/world/meast/iran-bans-bahai-university/index.html

https://cedar.wwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1253&context=jec

Higher Education under the Islamic Republic: the Case of the Baha ’is, by Mina Yazdani

https://cedar.wwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1253&context=jec

Closed Doors, Bahá’í World News Service

http://news.bahai.org/human-rights/iran/education/bihe/

Baha’i Blog

http://bahaiblog.net/site/2016/05/notacrime-campaign-a-collection-of-street-art-part-2/

http://bahaiblog.net/site/2012/12/some-background-to-whats-been-happening-to-the-bahais-in-iran/

The Economist: The Bahá’í Faith

https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2017/04/19/the-bahai-faith

Why Yale and Columbia are accepting students from a university that holds classes in a basement in Tehran.

https://qz.com/934700/a-clandestine-university-has-been-educating-bahais-in-iran-for-30-years/

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Human Interest, Politics

5 Current Heads of State Who Studied in the USA

July 20th, 2018

Historically, the United States has been most welcoming to students from other countries and demonstrated a consistent record of being a favored destination for international students. According to a report by the Washington Times the “U.S. State Department lists nearly 300 world leaders, current and former, who chose U.S. institutions, a trend that analysts say reinforced the nation’s status as the global leader in higher education but also underscores the figures’ desire — or, in many cases, need — to familiarize themselves with the United States, its politics and its culture.”

In this week’s blog, we would like to spotlight 5 current world leaders in office who completed all or a portion of their education in the United States.

COLOMBIA

President: Juan Manuel Santos

columbia

He has been in office since 2010 and sole recipient of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. He graduated from the University of Kansas and then attended the London School of Economics. In 1981, he received a master’s degree public administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy’s School of Government and was a 1988 Nieman Fellow for his award-winning work as a columnist and reporter. Santos was a Fulbright visiting fellow at the Fletcher School of Law and Economics at Tufts University in 1981. Santos served as a member and Vice Chair of the Washington-based think tank the Inter-American Dialogue and was president of the Freedom of Expression Commission for the Inter American Press Association. To learn more, click here

CROATIA

President: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović 

croatia

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović has been in office since 2015.  At age 17, she moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico as an exchange student and later graduated from Los Alamos High School in 1986. She returned to Yugoslavia and enrolled at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, where in 1993 she graduated with a Degree in English and Spanish languages and literature.  She continued her studies in a Diploma Course from 1995 to 1996 at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna in Austria and In 2000 she received a master’s degree in international relations from the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Zagreb. She then attended George Washington University as a Fulbright scholar. She also received a Luksic Fellowship for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and was a visiting scholar at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. To learn more, click here

JORDAN:

King: Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein

jordan.jpg

Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein has been King of Jordan since 1999.  Abdullah attended high school at Eaglebrook School and Deerfield Academy in the United States. He then attended the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. in 1987, where he pursued advanced study and research in international affairs. To learn more, click here

KENYA

President: Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta

kenya

Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta has been in office since 2013. He studied economics, political science and government at Amherst College in the United States.  He is the son of Jomo KenyattaKenya’s first president, and his fourth wife Mama Ngina Kenyatta. In August 2017 general election, Uhuru was re-elected for a second term but the election was successfully challenged in the Supreme Court of Kenya by his main competitor, Raila Odinga. On September 1, 2017, the court declared the election invalid and ordered a new presidential election which was held on October 26. Uhuru won, with 39% participation. His presidency has not been without controversy, and to learn more, click here

SINGAPORE

Prime Minister: Lee Hsien Loong

singapore

Lee has been in office since 2014.  He graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Trinity CollegeCambridge University, as Senior Wrangler in 1974 and later earned a Master of Public Administration at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. To learn more about Prime Minister Lee, click here.

According to an interview with the Washington Times, Allan Goodman, President of the Institute of International Education explained why the U.S. has been an attractive destination for study: “We have been the most open to students from other countries. It’s our tradition of academic open doors and a very consistent record of having international students here. The best American universities have been open to international students for the longest period of time. The credentials [obtained from those schools] matter, and the byproduct is that they gain a better understanding of the United States.”

We hope that the tradition of academic open doors will continue and remain strong.

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

ACEI’s 5-Step Practical Guide in Helping Refugees and Displaced People without or limited Documentation

July 13th, 2018

checkoff

The displacement of people because of conflict/war and/or caused by environmental/political/economic crisis means that many may arrive at refugee camps or their adopted countries with little or no documents supporting their academic achievements.  At the 2016 NAFSA Region XII Conference in Palm Spring, CA, ACEI President & CEO, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert presented a session on this topic with focus on “Syria: Education in Crisis and Providing Pathways for Refugees.” In her presentation, Jasmin introduced ACEI’s five-step process, which serves as a practical guide when assisting refugees and displaced people.

                                                Assess the Overall Situation

                                                Reconstruct the individual’s academic history

                                                Gather documents

                                                Assess Competency

                                                Verify

Let’s take a look at each of the five steps recommended in this model:

Step 1. Assess the overall situation

thinking

Assess the overall situation to determine if the claim for lack of documentation is legitimate (that is, is the source country at war or devastated by natural/environmental crisis that prevents the individual in securing his/her academic documents?). You may look at a variety of sources to obtain confirmation, such as:

  • Check the US Department of State website
  • Search Internet on recent news from official news sources
  • Email the institution and/or Ministry of Education in the source country
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in the source country
  • Contact the Embassy or Consulate of the country
  • Telephone the institution (seek the help of a native speak or someone fluent in the language)

Step 2. Reconstruct the individual’s academic history

inkwell

One way to obtain an understanding of your applicant’s predicament and academic achievement is by reconstruct their academic history.

  • Follow your general procedures (as you would all prospective applicants)
  • Require completion of an application
  • Require submission of official academic documents
  • Conduct an interview

Step 3. Gather Documents

folder

In the absence of complete academic documents, there are other types of documentation an individual may have in his/her possession that may include any of the following:

  • Gather any available academic and/supporting documents
  • Student IDs
  • Registration cards/enrollment slips
  • Any transcripts, certificates/diplomas even if incomplete
  • Copies of licenses
  • Certificates of professional standing/membership
  • State examinations certification
  • Proof of tuition payments/receipts from institution’s bursary
  • Sworn statements/affidavits from exiled faculty/school administration
  • Newspaper clippings/articles/announcements or printed lists of graduated students

Step 4. Assess Course Competency

bubblepeople

Assessment of an individual’s competency in a course or series of courses may be achieved through the following methods:

  • Interview by member of faculty
  • Assignment of special project
  • Challenge/placement examination

Step 5. Verify

checkcircle

Finally, we need to verify and check everything that has been presented and collected to prepare a portfolio/dossier on the individual.

  • Confirm again the crisis situation in the country and institution with official sources (e.g. U.S. Department of State, Embassy of the country from which the individual originates)
  • Ensure that you have in-house expertise on the country/region in question and its education system
  • Compare and verify any document gathered against samples from the same country and institutions in your archives
  • Use social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter for your applicant and LinkendIn and Academic.edu for scholars from the conflict area
  • When in doubt consult with and seek advice of colleagues in your profession and/or reach out to external sources such as independent evaluation services (members of AICE-Association of International Credential Evaluators)

This is a dynamic guide and we welcome your comments and suggestions. Please share with us your experiences and any tips you may have on this subject so that we may consider adding them to the guide.

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Credentials, Education

UC Davis Launches Digital Tool in Lebanon to Help Refugees Reclaim Right to Education

July 6th, 2018

ucdavisdocs

We wish to thank Professor Keith David Watenpaugh, Director of Human Rights studies at the University of California, Davis, for granting permission to share this post originally posted by Julia Ann Easley on June 12, 2018 in UC Davis’s Society, Arts & Culture News. Where necessary, ACEI has refreshed the post to include updates and new developments.

Jihad Qusanyeh, imprisoned and tortured as a student, will be among the first Syrian refugees to assemble a virtual “backpack” in a new project to help them reclaim their right to education. Article 26 Backpack, which uses face-to-face counseling and cloud-based technology to help refugees document and share their educational accomplishments, was launched in Lebanon beginning Friday, June 15.

The international consortium behind the project is led by Keith David Watenpaugh, a professor and director of Human Rights Studies at the University of California, Davis. Consortium members include the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, or AACRAO, and the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, or AUB.

jihad

Jihad Qusanyeh – Qusanyeh, a fourth-year student of applied chemistry at the University of Damascus when he was taken prisoner for five years, wants to complete his studies. “I always aim to learn more and more for when I return to Syria,” he shared in a video recorded to include in his backpack. “I’ll use what I learn for rebuilding Syria.”

Help to overcome challenges

About 36 percent of global youth have access to higher education but only about 1 percent of eligible refugees do, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The ongoing Syrian civil war has internally displaced or made refugees of more than 12 million people, and hundreds of thousands among them were — or should have been — in university, Watenpaugh said.

Article 26 Backpack, a part of Global Affairs at UC Davis and supported by a $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, is named for the article that established the right to education in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, nearly 70 years ago.

Watenpaugh said the tool will help refugees overcome significant impediments to re-entering academic life or applying for employment — from problems accessing their own documents to little clarity about the transferability of their credentials.

backpack
Source credit: UC Davis

backpack-2

More About the Technology Behind the Backpack – “A lot of what we do is important, but this was another level of helping our fellow human,” said Shawn DeArmond, who supervised the UC Davis web development group.“

Watenpaugh envisions broader implementation of Article 26 Backpack throughout the Middle East, particularly in the areas most affected by the war in Syria, and beyond. Moreover, he sees the Backpack’s potential to help not only refugees of war or those fleeing civil conflict, but also students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status in the United States and climate refugees.

The Lebanon launch
The first stage of the implementation was from June 15 through July 3. Watenpaugh and a team — including AUB students and faculty and AACRAO staff — visited refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley and hosted refugees elsewhere to help about 300 create backpacks.

A comic book will help introduce the Backpack to refugees. Trained students will help refugees set up backpacks at article26backpack.ucdavis.edu and upload documents including images of diplomas, transcripts and resumes. Backpackers have the option to record a video to serve as an oral statement of purpose. They control what they put in the backpack and with whom they share it.

Video Journals
Professor Watenpaugh has documented his recent Backpack Journey reflections in Lebanon through a number of videos. In this video, he asks: “What role can education play in the face of discrimination and prejudice? How can Article 26 Backpack as a humanitarian tool address this challenge?” For more, click here.

Future work
After nearly a month in Lebanon leading the initial implementation of Backpack, Watenpaugh returns to UC Davis Global Affairs to oversee the development of the next phase of this project. Work this summer will create an Arabic-language version of the tool, and in the early fall the project will be back in Lebanon to help more refugees set up backpacks.

In the future, Article 26 Backpack will integrate credential evaluation, academic counseling and job placement assistance through a feature called Compass. AACRAO, the higher education association, is building a cloud-based pool of international credential evaluators to assist refugee students and, in some cases, reconstruct academic histories that have been lost due to war.

A historian of the modern Middle East, Watenpaugh has seen up close the need for Article 26 Backpack. He has led a multidisciplinary research team that produced several major studies on Syrian students and scholars who are refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Greece and Turkey. His most recent book is the award-winning Bread from Stones: The Middle East and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism.

To stay abreast of the Article 26 Backpack project, please follow Professor Watenpaugh on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Media contact(s)
Keith David Watenpaugh, Article 26 Backpack, +1 530-574-0815 cell (speaks English and Arabic), kwatenpaugh@ucdavis.edu
Mona Finucane, Article 26 Backpack, cell +1 707-673-7043 (speaks English and Arabic), mfinucane@ucdavis.edu
Annetta Stroud, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, strouda@aacrao.org
Hana Addam El-Ghali, Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, AUB, +961 71037300, ha58@aub.edu.lb
Julia Ann Easley, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-752-8248, cell 530-219-4545, jaeasley@ucdavis.edu

Media Resources
Press kit with photos and more
Video: Jihad Qusanyeh shares his story (3 min, 44 secs)
Comic Book Explains Project With Refugee’s Story
More About the Technology Behind the Backpack
Article 26 Backpack

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Credentials, Education, Human Interest, Politics