Category Archives: Credentials

6 Benefits of Outsourcing Your Institution’s Credentials Evaluation Needs

June 8th, 2018

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At the recent NAFSA: Association of International Educators Conference in Philadelphia, PA (May 27-June1, 2018), ACEI President & CEO, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, and Aleks Morawski, Director of Evaluation Services at Foreign Credits, moderated a forum and shared their expertise on the benefits of outsourcing credential evaluations versus doing evaluations in house.  NAFSA had additional similar presentations on its conference program that concentrated on this same topic, so we felt it would be befitting to share with you a blog we had written back in 2016 that continues to be relevant today.  ACEI and Foreign Credits are both Endorsed Members of the Association of International Credential Evaluators, Inc. (AICE), a non-profit professional association for organizations providing credential evaluation services recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

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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 www.acei-global.org.

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Where have all the international students gone? Far…far…away? Maybe not.

May 25th, 2018

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Every day, those of us who are in international education, especially, those of us working at institutions and organizations in the USA, hear nothing but negative news about the decline in the number of international students studying at our colleges and universities. Many of us anticipated that this was going to happen as soon as Donald Trump took office. Our concerns were confirmed with the first roll out of the travel ban in January 2018 which caused immediate confusion and havoc at our airports and borders. The anti-immigration sentiments and a general distaste for “internationalism” or “globalism” vocalized by the Trump administration has given many parents of potential international students pause and reason to consider another destination for their child’s study abroad experience.

We know that international students, as stated by Stuart Anderson states in his March 3, 2018 article in Forbes, have been “America’s golden goose” contributing billions of dollars ($39 billion to be exact) to the U.S. economy every year. In fact, it is these very dollars that have helped subsidize the education of U.S.(domestic) students and attract international talent to American tech companies who have been instrumental in innovations that make the U.S. the envy of the world.
Given the economic value of international students, it is baffling that the agenda of the Trump Presidency that ran on a platform to run the country as a business, is in fact hurting this revenue flow by driving away international students who had once hoped to study in the U.S.

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Source: National Science Foundation, Science Engineering Indicators 2018.

In his article for Forbes, Mr. Anderson breaks down the various measures taken by the Trump Administration which have negatively impacted international student numbers which I will highlight below:

•   Stricter guidelines to obtain H-1B visas, proposals to eliminate work authorization for the spouses of H1-B visa holders, and long waits to obtain employment-based green cards have led to a 21% drop in students from India enrolling in graduate level programs in computer science and engineering at U.S. institutions;

•  Proposed restrictions on Optional Practical Training (OPT); the ability of international students to work after graduation, which allows for 12 months of work for students, especially those in STEM fields;

•  Finally, individuals who previously worked for organizations or Senators with animus toward international students and employment-based immigration currently hold key positions dealing with immigration policy within the executive branch.

U.S. institutions of higher education are already feeling the sting. Sara Beverage with the Registrar’s Office at the University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD), confirms that her institution has experienced a slight decrease in the international student numbers which she attributes to “recent federal policy changes and the way that the global community less favorable perceives the United States.”

Zepur Solakian, President of the Center for the Global Advancement of Community Colleges (CGACC), attributes the decline in international student numbers to a number of factors such as: “…the current political climate as messaged by the Trump administration, as well as the termination of the Saudi and Brazilian scholarship programs and the rise in global competition.”
This was echoed by Melissa Goodwin, Associate Director of Admissions at the University of Idaho. According to Ms. Goodwin: “Since 2014, we have experienced a general decline due to changes in the government-sponsored programs in both Brazil and Saudi Arabia—this could still be having an effect on our numbers.”

When asked about international student numbers, a colleague who is involved in international admissions at a California-based private institution says that though “total enrollment has been steady, enrollment for the language program has significantly declined.” She believes this is because “markets for intensive English program seekers have shrunk and creating programs that are career focused have been slow.” When asked what her institution is doing to help international students feel welcomed, she notes “we have increased the amount of need-base scholarships, but I cannot say that we are doing anything new.”

The decline in international student numbers means loss in revenue which translates into budget cuts and a reduction in course offerings, and less financial support for domestic students. International students think with their feet and they think fast. They are looking at other “friendlier” countries to pursue their higher education and they are not disappointed. International competitors vying for the same pool of students have also intensified their recruiting strategies.

As the U.S. government pushes on with stricter and restrictive guidelines, other countries are stepping in and taking advantage of the Trump Administration’s anti-immigration rhetoric. Countries such as Canada, Australia, China, Spain, France, United Kingdom, and New Zealand are aggressively marketing their higher education institutions and recruiting the international student and faculty who would have typically come to the U.S.

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Just last week at the two-day Bilateral Seminar I attended at the French Embassy in Washington, DC, I listened to my French counterparts as they rolled out their country’s plans to lure scientists, researchers and students from around the world, including the U.S. by subsidizing their research (through President Macron’s Make Our Planet Great Again initiative) and by offering free tuition at their public institutions, paid internships, and other perks.

But, U.S. universities are not resting on their laurels and giving up. They are taking proactive measures by continuing their recruitment efforts and retention of international students. For example, Ms. Beverage shares her institution’s commitment: “UMD’s leadership has tasked the entire community to commit more energy, time, and resources to the goals outlined in our Strategic Plan. I think it is noteworthy that Goals 2 and 6 fully support UMD’s dedication to creating globally engaged citizens. Also, another concrete example of how UMD is promoting a welcoming environment for international students is the recent formation of the Commission on Equity, Race, and Ethnicity (CERE). The Commission on Equity, Race, & Ethnicity (CERE) works to create an equitable campus community for people of all racial, ethnic, and intersecting identities through providing education and advocating for institutional change.”

Ms. Goodwin cites that the University of Idaho and the city of Moscow “have a long tradition of embracing our international students and taking every step possible to ensure they feel safe.” Universities and communities working together are the key to ensure a welcoming and student friendly, whether domestic or international, campus. Ms. Goodwin notes: “Although our town has always been invested in the university and its diversity (most community members either attended, have family who attended, or work on campus—or all of these), signs began appearing in yards throughout Moscow last summer reading “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor” in English, Spanish and Arabic.”

The University of Idaho has a robust plan to attract international students. “We regularly travel to and participate in recruitment fairs, conferences, and school visits, and our international agent network extends throughout the world. We also work to initiate and establish partnerships with high schools and universities throughout the world which allow international students to seamlessly transfer here, while also promoting the exchange of our local students in other countries,” cites Ms. Alicia Case, International Recruiter at the University of Idaho. In addition, Ms. Case notes that “In 2017, we signed on with global education partner Navitas, allowing us to establish our Global Student Success program which further prepares students for success at UI, providing intercultural training, learning strategies, and English language support alongside their classwork. More information here: https://www.uidaho.edu/news/here-we-have-idaho-magazine/past-issues/2017-fall/navitas.”

Despite the factors cited by Ms. Solakian that have impacted the international student numbers, she believes that the U.S. still provides more opportunities for higher education as well as OPT to international students. “It is high time for all U.S. institutions to advocate the opportunities in the U.S. and show parents and students that we are still very welcoming and the best choice,” she concludes.

I will close with the following statement reported by Politico from University of California President Janet Napolitano, who served as Homeland Security secretary in the Obama administration:

“American education has always led the world — and it still leads the world, and it should lead the world. But we are leading the world in an atmosphere where the White House, at least, is sending a very kind of ‘stay away’ message — and that’s a challenge.”

If you work at a U.S. college or university, I invite you to share with us your institution’s experience in how it is responding to the current decline in international student numbers and steps taken to help international students feel welcomed.

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Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

President & CEO, Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI)
President, Association of International Credentials Evaluators, Inc. (AICE)
Chair, International Education Standards Council (IESC), AACRAO

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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 www.acei-global.org.

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USCIS Threatens to Destroy H-1B by Redefining “Specialty Occupation”. What Happened to Trump’s “Merit-Based” Hypocrisy?

May 4th, 2018

The following is an expanded version of my initial comment below, including some observations about the larger context of the Trump administration’s assault on the H-1B visa program as part of a concerted attack against other types of skilled and professional immigration, and legal immigration in general.

Around the beginning of this year, the Trump administration launched an intense and well-publicized attack on America’s legal immigration system by calling for the abolition of “chain migration”, i.e. extended family immigration (which Trump referred to as “horrible” in a December 29, 2017 tweet) and the Diversity Visa (DV) lottery.

Family immigration has been one of the main pillars of America’s legal immigration system for the past 50 years, and the DV lottery has enabled over a million immigrants from every part of the world to obtain green cards within the past two decades.

While both these programs very arguably had their origins in attempts to preserve at least some of the mainly white dominance in legal immigration that had been in effect prior to the landmark civil rights era 1965 immigration reform law, their actual effect was to open America’s legal immigration system to people from every part of the world, without discrimination based in race, color, religion or national origin, in contrast to the previous openly racist, “Nordics”- only 1924 immigration act which had been in effect for the previous 40 years.

In proposing to abolish these two important race-neutral immigration programs, Trump called for a “merit-based”immigration system instead, and proposed a 4-point framework which was purportedly designed to accomplish that goal. He also strongly supported two Congressional proposals, the so- called RAISE Act in the Senate, and a bill introduced by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) in the House, both of which would have ostensibly accomplished the same purpose and which were obviously designed to make drastic cuts in legal immigration from outside Europe.

However, while vigorously touting “merit-based” immigration as the cornerstone of his immigration policies for the future, Trump has also been hypocritically trying to undermine skilled and professional immigration, especially H-1B, which, ever since it assumed its present form in 1990, has been the essence of what merit-based immigration means.

The H-1B visa, which is another important avenue to opening America’s gates to qualified immigrants from every part of the world, and is especially popular with well-educated and innovative IT professionals from India and other Asian countries, has long been under attack by immigration opponents, on the specious grounds that these professionals allegedly take jobs away from qualified Americans by working for lower wages.

This charge has been shown by studies to have no more truth than Trump’s baseless charges that Hispanic immigrants have a higher crime rate than native-born Americans (while studies have also shown that the opposite is true).

Nor is the H-1B visa by any means limited to professionals from India or in the IT industry. It is used by college graduates from all over the world with bachelor degrees (or equivalent) working in finance, education, design, marketing, and a wide variety of other “specialty occupations”.

Trump’s own hostility to the H-1B visa is relatively recent. He initially supported this program at the beginning of his campaign and also defended Asian professionals working in Silicon Valley, many of whom are in H-1B status, in a 2015 interview with then Breitbart News Editor (and now Trump’s ousted former top adviser) Steve Bannon, who had attacked these professionals on explicitly racial grounds.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016…ley-inaccurate

But suddenly, midway in his campaign, Trump, reportedly under prodding from his chief immigration campaign adviser, then Senator and now attorney general Jeff Sessions, suddenly changed his mind and called for the abolition of H-1B.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news…ogram-in-wash/

True to his campaign promise (just as he also did not forget his campaign promises to take action against Hispanic, Muslim and other non-European immigrants), one of the first things that Trump did upon taking office was to launch an attack on skilled and professional immigrants in his so-called:Buy American-Hire American executive order.

However, while this attack was vague and limited to directing a “review” of H-1B and other skilled immigrant visa programs, USCIS has now issued the clearest possible warning, in the form of an April 4 letter from Director Lee Francis Cissna to Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) one of H-1B’s longest and most persistent antagonists, that this visa may now be on the Trump administration’s chopping block.

The following is the most ominous passage from the letter, as far as the future of H-1B is concerned in this administration:

“USCIS has also announced that it is working on two proposed regulations to improve the H-1B program…The second regulation will propose to revise the definition of specialty occupation, consistent with INA Section 214(i), to increase the focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B visa holders, and to revise the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to better protect U.S. workers and wages.” 
(Italics added.)

A direct link to the full letter is available through a thinkprogress.org article which describes a number of ways in which the Trump administration is trying to eviscerate the H-1B program:

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-immigrants-h1b-h4/

To any H-1B practitioner with even a moderate amount of experience in this field, the words: “revise the definition of specialty occupation” should be like a four alarm siren to a seasoned firefighter. Nothing is more central to the concept and the functioning of of the H-1B visa than the definition of a specialty occupation. Nothing, at least in this writer’s own more than 30 year experience as an H-1B lawyer, has been a bigger or more troublesome source of RFE’s for this visa.

The danger to the entire H-1B program inherent in revising the definition of a specialty occupation is underscored by the Orwellian reason that the letter gives for doing so:

“to increase focus on obtaining the best and brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program”.

The real intent, of course, is to keep as many of the best and brightest foreign nationals out of the Unites States as possible, especially of they come from India and other parts of Asia, as well as Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

The administration’s intent to try to destroy the H-1B program rather than to “improve” it, is also from the context of Cissna’s letter as a whole. The letter also states that USCIS plans to eliminate employment authorization for H-4 spouses and to “redefine” the employer-employee relationship, obviously to make it even narrower and more restrictive than recent USCIS memos have already done, especially in the area of off-site or third party employment.

The letter also mentions recent USCIS actions aimed at making H-1B extensions more difficult.

As Shakespeare’s Marc Antony says:

“I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

One might say the same thing about Cissna’s letter regarding the H-1B visa.

One is also reminded of the reason given in Trump’s four-point Immigration “Reform’ Framework for eliminating extended family immigration beyond the nuclear family, which was given as ostensibly to “Promote nuclear family migration”

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings…rder-security/

Just as Trump’s idea of “promoting” family immigration is to bar millions of currently eligible family members from coming to the US, his plan for bringing the “best and brightest” H-1B immigrants to America is to keep all but a few of them out.

Trump’s assault on skilled and professional legal immigration in general is
described in more detail in a chilling FWD.us report which can also be accessed through the thinkprogress.org link provided above.

Attacking skilled and professional immigration from India and other non-European countries is also, without any serious question, part of a larger long term agenda of turning the focus of America’s entire immigration system back toward the pre-1965 policy of favoring “Countries like Norway”, to quote Trump’s notorious January 11 statement (not to mention his European supremacist “Blood and Soil” Warsaw, Poland speech on July 6, 2017 – an openly white nationalist address which has received far too little attention in the US media, and which I have commented on previously).

The clear purpose is to maintain white majority dominance and supremacy through racial exclusion immigration policies for many more decades to come, long after the Trump administration itself becomes part of America’s past history.

See Yale Law School Professor James Q. Whitman’s January, 2018 article:

Trump’s quest to Make America White Again

https://www.project-syndicate.org/co…rier=accessreg

As Marc Antony also says:

“The evil that men do lives after them.”

To conclude, as indicated above, showing that a given job offer qualifies as a “specialty occupation” is already one of the most difficult and complex parts of the entire H-1B system. Last year, it was without doubt a major source of the politically motivated increase in openly biased RFE’s, and if last year is any guide, this year could very well be even worse.

In my next comment on this issue, I will discuss some recent examples of specialty occupation RFE’s from my own H-1B practice, including cases of egregious twisting and disregard of H-1B regulations and USCIS’s own well established policies and practices, and I will suggest some ways for dealing with this vital and contentious issue, which goes to the heart of the entire H-1B program.


Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping H-1B and other skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world receive work visas and green cards for more than 30 years. Roger’s email address is algaselex@gmail.com

This blog was originally posted on Immigration Law Blogs. It is shared here on ACEI-Global by permission from its author, Roger Algase.

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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 www.acei-global.org.

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Student Data Mobility, Diversity and Inclusion, and Emerging Trends for 2018

April 27th, 2018

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In April 2017 in Melbourne, Australia, ACEI became a signatory on the Groningen Declaration Network. The Association of International Credential Evaluators, of which AICE is a Charter and Endorsed Member, also became a signatory on the GDN. This year in April, the Groningen Declaration Network held its annual summit in Paris, France. The summit was held at the Marie-Curie campus of the University of Sorbonne. Presentations continued to revolve around the digital mobility of students worldwide, security and trust in platforms serving as hubs for digital documents, and the overall acceptance of receiving and processing academic transcripts and degrees digitally versus the paper form in sealed envelopes which have been the traditional form of issuing and releasing documents.

What is the Groningen Declaration?

According to their website, “The Groningen Declaration seeks common ground in best serving the academic and professional mobility needs of citizens world wide by bringing together key stakeholders in the Digital Student Data Ecosystem – we make Digital Student Data Portability happen. Citizens world wide should be able to consult and share their authentic educational data with whomever they want, whenever they want, wherever they are.”

Students are technically savvy more than ever. International admissions offices should provide positive messages while adapting to the advances of technology.  More than 80% of international students use their mobile devices to conduct their communication. Not only do we have to address the advancements in technology, we need to provide positive messages that international students and immigrants are welcome and safe at our campuses and in our country. Diversity and inclusion helps foster this message.

What is diversity and inclusion?

Diversity is any aspect that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another, but it also means appreciation of and respect for differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion. Inclusion is about focusing on the needs of everyone and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve their greatest potential.

There are many factors that increase the need for student data mobility:

  • Rising demand for immediate information. There is a huge increase in the use of apps and the need for immediate communication. (Whatsapp, Viber, Tango, WeChat, Skype, etc.).
  • Key players for international student data mobility and referrals include USA, UK, Australia, Germany, Canada, France, China, and New Zealand.
  • Rising popularity of transnationalism. The forces of globalization and transnationalism have transformed many countries once known as immigrant countries into both immigrant and emigrant countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Singapore.
  • Rise of web-based technology and learning. This is often called online learning or e-learning because it includes online course content. Discussion forums via email, videoconferencing, and live lectures (videostreaming) are all possible through the web. Web pages may contain hyperlinks to other parts of the web, giving access to a vast amount of web-based information.
  • Targeting and knowing your audience. By matching international students’ needs will increase engagement and improve significantly the relationship with them, as students want to be in control of the communication preferences. Send not only the right message to the right person at the right time, but also through the right channel.

Here are key trends affecting international education in 2018:

  • The price of oil. Russia, Venezuela, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria all rely heavily on the oil industry, where low oil costs will affect their population and their currency. Countries that depend on oil exports and will be affected by low oil prices.
  • English as a Second Language face-lift. The English language market is finding themselves in competition for market share, so providers are overhauling their course offerings and revamping their programming. Agents are also drivers of this trend as they see added value to English language learning.
  • Instant Messaging marketing. Mobile marketing provides international student offices direct and personal contact with potential students. Instant messaging is immediate and these messages are more targeted and have a higher target success rate.
  • Refugee crisis. During this difficult time, international educators are finding solutions to help students and scholars who were among the millions of refugees seen fleeing war and persecution. There will be an increasing need to assist this population and migrant support and credit recognition will be in the forefront as more educators move to provide scholarships, assistance, and language training.
  • Political climate and our current administration affect internationalism, immigration policy – especially for STEM graduates, H1 visa issues, and overall international relationships shapes our future.

By moving forward best practices and common ground for student data mobility, we can provide the best service to our international students. Pairing this with the message, “You are welcome and safe here,” we can provide positive messages to ensure international student admission growth and stability.

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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 www.acei-global.org.

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Dispatches from Paris, France: AACRAO IESC Tour of the Business Grande Ecoles and Groningen Declaration Network Summit, April 2018

April 19th, 2018

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April in Paris. 80 degrees and sunny. Paris is a city built for walking and my colleagues from AACRAO IESC and I together kept daily log to see who had walked the most. Thanks to the apps on our smartphones or FitBits, we have been comparing notes on our individual steps and miles. Since my arrival last Saturday, I’ve clocked nearly 80,000 steps or about 50 miles. Not bad for a car dependent long-time resident of Los Angeles.

The primary purpose of the IESC’s visit to Paris has been to gather information on the Business Grande Ecoles in order to update the country profile on France and include the credentials offered by these specialized institutions of higher education. Members of IESC here in Paris include William Paver (FCSA), Robert Watkins (UT Austin), Emily Tse (IERF) and yours truly. Melanie Gottlieb, Deputy Director of AACRAO is also here in Paris and it is thanks to her that we had appointments to meet with administrators at the ESSEC, a Grande Ecole in Business, and representatives of the French Ministry of National Higher Education and Research.

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AACRAO’s IESC Delegation in Paris(L-R): William Paver, Robert Watkins, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, Melanie Gottlieb, Emily Tse

Since IESC will be preparing a report on its recent visit and findings on the Business Grande Ecoles, I will not share details of our meetings as we are still waiting to receive additional information. However, I can say that our meetings with both ESSEC and the MOE were successful and offered us very helpful insight on the various access pipelines to the degree programs at the Grande Ecoles of Business. One thing that we were able to confirm is that the Diploma from a Grande Ecole and the title of Grade de Master represent completion five years of full-time study beyond the Baccalaureat. The first two years comprise of studies known as prepas or classe preparatoire which are completed at authorized schools in France. On completion of the two-year prepas, students intending to study at the Grande Ecoles of Business must sit for concours, entrance examination. Their performance on the concours will determine their eligibility for admission into the Grande Ecoles of Business where they continue their studies for an additional three years.

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Ministry of National Education, France

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AACRAO IESC delegation at Ministry of National Education – French officials, right to left: Dr. Jean-Luc Nahel, Dr. Nadine Van Der Tol, Prof. Jean-Luc Clemente. IESC delegation: Melanie Gottlieb, William Paver, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, Robert Watkins, Emily Tse.

Immediately after the conclusion of our meetings, it was time to attend the Groningen Declaration Network annual summit, held at the University of Sorbonne, Marie-Curie campus. Discussion continues on what progress has been made in promoting digital mobility of student records worldwide. Of concern to many was the Melanie Gottlieb’s presentation on the GDPR, (General Data Protection Regulation) and how it may impact education and access to academic documents. Here’s a quick explanation of the GDPR: In April 2016, the European Parliament, The Council of the European Union, the European Commission drafted a Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Protection of national persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data. For more on the GDPR, click here.

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Venue for the GDN Summit, Paris 2018

We are in the heart of the college and university center of Paris. We’re staying at a hotel near the University of Sorbonne where the GDN meetings are held, which is aptly name Rue des Écoles (Street of Schools). It is, therefore, impossible not to stumble or walk by a collège, institute, faculté, or université. As an international credential evaluator who has been in the field for 30 years, seeing the very institutions from which we receive academic transcripts to evaluate never gets old; in fact it’s downright invigorating and makes our work so much more tangible.

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Since there is still one more day of presentations left at the GDN, I may have more to report in another dispatch from Paris. In the meantime, stay tuned for updates on the Business Grande Ecoles from the IESC in the upcoming weeks.

A bientôt!

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Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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At ACEI, we see the importance of international education in our global economy and strive to maintain the exchange and dissemination of information by assisting colleges and universities, professional organizations, and employers around the world with our research and credential evaluation services that help enhance their reputation and competitive recruiting effectiveness. To learn more about ACEI and its services such as Credential Evaluation, Translation, Webinars and Training, and how we can assist you with your credential evaluation and recruitment needs, please visit www.acei-global.org or call us at 310.275.3530.

 

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The AACRAO Conference from the Association of International Credential Evaluators, Inc. (AICE) Perspective

March 30th, 2018

The 104th AACRAO Annual Conference was held in Orlando, Florida, this week to gather thousands of professionals in the field of applied comparative education, student admissions, academic records, international education, and enrollment management. The Annual Conference provided four days of workshops, sessions, roundtables, and networking opportunities.

AACRAO Executives encouraged attendees to make the most of the Annual Conference by visiting the exhibition hall, where AICE Endorsed Members and Affiliates showcased the expert research, collaboration for best practices, and published set standards of AICE.

The AACRAO Program Committee developed a program that reflected the scope and breadth of their members’ professional responsibilities, including 200 sessions, round tables, poster sessions, and workshops.

AACRAO featured their 3rd Annual Film Festival to highlight how schools promote their programs and services which continuously played outside the Exhibition Hall.

The Annual Conference also provided several guest speakers, workshops, and professional sessions from a culmination of over a year of diligent planning by the AACRAO Program Committee.

ACEI President & CEO, AICE President and AACRAO International Evaluation Standards Council (IESC)- Electronic Database for Global Education (EDGE) Chair, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, shared her expertise by presenting on the benefits and placement recommendations provided by EDGE, the leading online resource for evaluating foreign credentials. Ms. Saidi-Kuehnert also presented on Diversity and Inclusion in International Recruitment and a session on Mutual Recognition Issues between the US and countries in European Union.

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AICE Endorsed Members: Alex Popovski (L), Ucredo, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert (R), Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute

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AICE Endorsed Members: Aleks Morawski (L), Foreign Credits, Alex Popovski (R), UCredo

Several AICE Endorsed Members and Affiliates also contributed to the excellent offerings of educational sessions to help the attendees build their knowledge and skills ensuring student and institutional success. AICE Endorsed Member, Aleks Morawski, joined AICE Affiliate the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ (NAIA), Garrett Seelinger, and AACRAO to report on their recent trip to Cuba to collaborate with Cuba educational professionals via the AACRAO Cuba Project.

AICE Endorsed Member, Foreign Credentials Service of America (FCSA) founder Dr. William Paver and the Paver Family Foundation generously provided sponsorship for the elegant International Educators Reception, which overlooked the impressive hotel pool and lanai.

The well-attended International Luncheon featured Ms. Tolu Olubunmi, founder and CEO of Lions Write, a social venture dedicated to building initiatives committed to advocacy for migrants, refugees, and displaced people. She is recognized as one of the “15 Women Changing the World in 2015” and as an Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur. AICE Endorsed Members and Affiliates benefited from hearing Ms. Olubunmi’s message of advocating for the voiceless and collaborative efforts between corporations, governments, and civil society organizations.

Alan Alda, the multiple Emmy and Golden Globe winner, addressed a packed room to close the Annual Meeting to discuss his book, “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face?” He interactively addressed effective communication techniques with humor and warmth.

The closing of the AACRAO Annual Meeting kicked off the AICE Symposium, “Setting the Standards for Evaluating Institutional Recognition and Accreditation” where AICE Endorsed Members and Affiliates, admission advisors, international credential evaluators, and AACRAO Executives meet to discuss critical issues surrounding our profession today.


The 2019 AACRAO Conference will be held in Los Angeles, California, followed by the 2019 AICE Symposium in the same locale.

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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 www.acei-global.org.

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10 Criteria to Consider for Outsourcing Your International Credential Evaluation Needs (and why ACEI is your trusted source!)

March 23rd, 2018

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In our previous blog, we wrote about the benefits of outsourcing international credential evaluations. In this week’s blog, we’d like to share with you the criteria you need to consider if your institution is looking to outsource its international credential evaluations.

With the need for increasing content and authenticity in the evaluation process comes the need for more education, training and experience on the part of the credential evaluator. Institutions seeking to outsource their international credential evaluations are advised to select a service or multiple services by requesting the following:

1. Membership

Is the credential evaluation agency an Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE)?

The Association of International Credential Evaluators is a non-profit professional association with unique set of criteria which employs a rigorous screening process in determining the eligibility of providers of international credential evaluation services to Endorsed membership. The AICE has published evaluation standards to which its members subscribe and conform to promote consistency and transparency in educational equivalency reporting.

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. is an Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators.

2. Years of Operation

Does the credential evaluation agency have a proven record of experience in the field?

Find out when the agency was established and how long it has been in operation. Number of years of operation as a credential evaluation service provider demonstrates longevity and continuity in a field where fluctuations in the market due to economic and political events affects the solvency of a company and its ability to work with credentials from around the world.

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. was founded in 1994 and is celebrating its 22nd year of service.

3. Standards

What evaluation standards and procedures does the credential evaluation agency employ in evaluating and determining U.S. educational equivalences?

It is important to find out the standards the evaluation agency uses in evaluating credentials to derive at U.S. educational equivalences. Does your institution have any guidelines in place when assessing international credentials? Are the standards used by the evaluation agency in line with your institution’s? If your institution doesn’t have any particular standards on evaluating international credentials, we recommend you refer to the AICE Evaluation Standards for guidelines.

As an Endorsed Member, ACEI adheres to the AICE Evaluation Standards in the preparation of evaluation of international credentials. Adherence to the AICE Evaluation Standards ensures consistency and transparency in evaluations and educational equivalence reporting.

4. Experience

Request and review a profile of the evaluation agency’s executive and evaluation staff. This information will help you assess the expertise and experience of the agency’s evaluation staff. It will also help you outline the methods the agency employs for its evaluators to receive continuous professional development.

√ At ACEI, information on the executive team is available on the website and for its evaluation staff is available on request. The evaluation staff at ACEI are classified at the senior level which means they each bring with them more than 10 years of committed and continuous hands-on experience in evaluating international academic credentials.

5. Services

What types of evaluation reports are provided by the credential evaluation agency?

It is important to determine the different types of evaluation reports the credential evaluation service provides to see if they are able to accommodate your institution’s needs.

At ACEI, we provide three types of evaluation reports: Basic (General Document-by-Document) Report; Comprehensive Course-by-Course (with Grades, GPA, Course Levels) Report; Course Match Evaluation (Comprehensive Course-by-Course with Grades, GPA, Course Levels and Course Match). In addition, ACEI evaluation reports can be customized to meet an institution’s specific needs. For example, ACEI will include information such as Language/Medium of Instruction and certified true copies of official/ original academic documents submitted with the official evaluation report.

6. Required Documents

What criteria does the evaluation company have in place in accepting academic documents?

It’s important to find out whether the evaluation company accepts official transcripts directly from the source institution, or original (“first-issued”) documents in the student’s possessions, photocopies or scanned documents submitted by students, or transcripts received electronically from the source institution.

The ACEI website identifies by country exactly what documents are required for evaluation and method of their submission. For some countries, ACEI strictly requires receipt of official transcripts directly from the source institution and from others, original documents to be provided by the students are accepted. Any original documents provided by the students are returned when the evaluation has been completed. Photocopies that have not been certified by the source institution are not accepted. Copies or scanned copies of documents are accepted for a preview but official/original documents are still required in order to prepare and issue an official evaluation report. Electronically transmitted official transcripts prepared by the source institution and released directly to ACEI are accepted for evaluation.

7. Processing Time

How long does it take for the evaluation agency to complete an evaluation?

The number of days an evaluation agency requires to complete an evaluation plays a significant part in the overall picture when a student’s application for admission is contingent on the evaluation report. You must determine the actual number of days it takes an agency to complete the evaluation and not the estimated time.  For example, an agency may claim a 10-day processing time but in practice it takes 20 or 30 or more days to complete its evaluation reports.

At ACEI, we’re proud to adhere to our claim of completing evaluations within 7 business days. This is an unprecedented turnaround time, unmatched by any other evaluation agency in the U.S. ACEI will complete evaluations within 7 business day from the date of receipt of the completed application form, required official/original academic documents and fees. The processing time is only extended in the event the student does not provide the required academic documents, fees, or submits and incomplete application. ACEI also provides 2 RUSH services whereby an evaluation can be completed within 24-hours or 3-business days on receipt of the completed application, required documents, and fees.

8. Library/Information Resources

What steps does the evaluation agency take in maintaining a dynamic in-house library?

A credential evaluation agency and the evaluation reports it generates are as good as its reference library. Maintaining an in-house library is one of the most important criteria in qualifying for Endorsed Membership with the Association of International Credential Evaluators. An in-house library that has in its collection historic and current publications and reference materials is the backbone of a full-service reputable evaluation agency.

ACEI is proud of its comprehensive in-house library of print and electronic publications which include historic references as well as the most up-to-date publications on world education systems and international directories of institutions of higher education. ACEI in-house library also has in its archives thousands of sample educational credentials and evaluation reports to use as reference. The ACEI Database of evaluation reports and country profiles is another helpful resource for its evaluation staff.

9. Website & Information

Does the evaluation company have a website that is user-friendly and informative?

A website serves as the portal to a company’s operation and services. An effective website must include information that is clear and transparent about its services, fees and procedures.

ACEI’s website provides detailed instructions on the application process, required academic documents for evaluation, types of evaluation reports, fees, methods of payment, processing time, and terms and conditions of service. The Frequently Asked Questions section of the ACEI website is also a helpful page to visit for supporting information.

10. Customer/Client Relations

How helpful and knowledgeable is the evaluation company’s staff?

And, last but not least, building a relationship with an evaluation company where you are confident that your institution’s needs and those of your international students are not ignored but handled in a timely and professional matter is essential. It is good to call the evaluation company and see if you are greeted by a friendly representative able and willing to answer your questions. If you emailed the company, how soon was your email answered?

ACEI’s official hours of business are from 9:00 AM PST – 4:00 PM PST Monday through Friday. ACEI has a 24-hour, 7-days a week answering phone service to handle basic phone inquiries during its non-business hours. During our regular business hours, our representatives are available to answer any of your phone and email inquiries. All phone messages and emails are answered within 24-hours.

In closing, by selecting a reputable evaluation service with proven years of experience, you are ensured the most up-to-date evaluation standards and practices. Indirectly, outsourcing also gives you access to the evaluation service’s resources: its library, database, knowledge and experience, online tools, and training. Finally, building a relationship with a credential evaluation agency creates an understanding between the parties that allows the agency to incorporate any special institutional needs into the evaluation. 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.

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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 www.acei-global.org.

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