Category Archives: Credentials

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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ACEI Offers Digital Delivery of Official Evaluation Reports and Official Documentation

February 23rd, 2018
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Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI) is pleased to announce SecurePathway©, which is a free service that allows you to view and print all completed evaluations and documentation via your online secure portal instantly.

ACEI President, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, recently signed the Groningen Declaration at their meeting with global leaders in Australia, which serves the academic and professional mobility needs of citizens worldwide by making digital student data portability happen.

“By signing this declaration, I’ve made the commitment to move forward the crucial need for accurate and secure portals to student data,” Saidi-Kuehnert said. “We at ACEI are not only dedicated to providing the highest quality of evaluation reports based on expert research, but also providing a faster and more secure way to get ACEI official reports, along with the certified academic documentation. It is literally credential evaluations and academic documentation at your fingertips!”

ACEI is making a dedicated commitment to responding to the needs of their clients and providing services to ensure the best delivery method of student data. “SecurePathway is our way of keeping with the rapidly digitized world we live in and the emerging need for student data mobility. In the case of our evaluation reports, it’s the ability to access and review the results without having to wait for the paper document arriving by post,” Saidi-Kuehnert said.

ACEI also provided a blog on the topic of student data mobility. With their comprehensive blog, ACEI stays on top of the needs and trends in our profession. “Digital documents have immense appeal as the preferred medium for content creation, storage, editing and dissemination. In this field, you cannot stay static, you need to adapt to the needs of your clients,” Saidi-Kuehnert explained. “With SecurePathway©, we have answered your need to receive data online securely and quickly.”

SecurePathway is the most secure way to obtain official academic documentation by storing the official evaluation reports and official academic documents on secure servers. Only authorized users are able to retrieve them, making it more secure than paper, which could fall in the wrong hands or lost in the post if sent by physical mail.

ACEI is the premier credential evaluation service that provides fast and quality evaluation reports based on expert research. ACEI is an Endorsed Member of the leading credential evaluation member organization, the Association of International Credential Evaluators, Inc. (AICE), the only organization with set standards. AICE is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education.

Signing up with ACEI’s SecurePathway is free and does not cost the institutions any fees. To receive ACEI expert reports and certified academic credentials via SecurePathway, complete this form.

SecurePathwaysRegistrationForm

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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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The European Qualifications Passport: Giving Refugees a Second Chance

February 16th, 2018

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Something amazing and unprecedented has happened across the Atlantic. The Council of Europe will recognize the education qualifications of refugees who have fled their homelands with little or no documentation.

The Council of Europe launched the project known as the European Qualifications Passport in 2017 with the goal to help those refugees who had finished high school or completed university studies in their home countries by having their education attainment evaluated.

The European Qualifications Passport as defined by the Council of Europe is:

a document providing an assessment of the higher education qualifications based on available documentation and a structured interview. It also presents information on the applicant’s work experience and language proficiency. The document provides reliable information for integration and progression towards employment and admission to further studies.

It is a specially developed assessment scheme for refugees, even for those who cannot fully document their qualifications.”

The European Qualifications Passport follows in the footsteps of a project already in place in Norway by NOKUT that has successfully assisted refugees without academic documents to gain recognition of their academic achievements through a carefully implemented screening and assessment process. These individuals must demonstrate their level of knowledge and education in order to qualify for the European Qualifications Passport.  The first step is to complete a questionnaire which is then reviewed by an evaluator after which an interview is scheduled. The interview is conducted by at least two individuals, one of whom is well versed in the language and education system of the country where the refugee claims to have studied.

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Below is a step-by-step chart of this assessment process provided by the Council of Europe:

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View a documentary on the European Qualifications Passport here

Sample:

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Many nations today are facing unprecedented pressure to tackle the migration challenge, and are seeking effective and sustainable methods to screen, assess and recognize the qualifications of refugees. The European Qualifications Passport is a remarkable achievement and a huge step forward in helping refugees by recognizing their education that will help their integration into their host country and making our world a better place.

Additional Links:

https://rm.coe.int/168070016d

https://fruitfame.com/category/miracle-fruit/european-qualifications-passport-for-refugees

https://www.coe.int/en/web/education/-/new-video-on-the-european-qualifications-passport-for-refugees

https://ec.europa.eu/education/policy/strategic-framework/skills-qualifications_en

https://acei-global.blog/2017/02/03/recognition-of-refugees-qualifications-norwegian-and-european-experiences-and-solutions/

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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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Don’t Give up, Keep at it! 7 Steps for US HEIs to remain competitive in International Education

February 9th, 2018

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The reports are coming in, and they each speak of declines in the number of international students at U.S. institutions of higher education (HEIs). Panic has set in and decisions based on panic never turn out to be sound or prudent. They are short sighted and cause more damage than good.  Panic prompts HEIs to retrench, which leads to laying off staff in international admissions and cutting back on student recruitment. The drop in international student numbers shows itself quickly with a decline in dollars generated from tuition and fees which prompt universities to slash their budgets, cut back on staffing that translate to reduced course offerings and less seats available for prospective domestic students. People forget that the tuition from international students help subsidize a large portion of the infrastructure of institutions, supporting more courses and faculty and more seats available to domestic students. International students also help by participating in the general economy, they are, after all, consumers just like you and me and besides paying their college tuition, they are also spending dollars in the local community.

No matter who or what political party is in power, we forget that the U.S. economy hinges on the global market and our global competitiveness is in trouble, which includes our competitiveness in the international student market. Combining the number of international students in the US government’s net migration target is a flawed policy. We have and continue to have a political environment laden with extreme political opinions where one group is adamantly pro and another passionately against internationalization. Neither point of view is accurate since extremes in any which way tend to be flawed and too simplistic on how the domestic and global market are intertwined and function together as a unit and not separately. The more we remain engaged globally the more we can encourage the coming together of people, ideas and innovations, that will help us better address the challenges that face us.

When the political climate insinuates that internationalization is bad, it trickles down to all sectors of the economy and community, and those of us in international education feel its immediate effects on our campuses and in periphery services supporting our HEIs. Suddenly, there is a dis-ease within the international student community about coming to the US to study. They fear for their safety, they anticipate difficulties in obtaining a student visa and express concern about how they will be treated on arrival at a U.S. airport by customs and immigration officers and by their peers on the university campuses. We have, unfortunately, not been sending a warm welcoming message to the world in this past year and it is resonating loudly and clearly around the globe.

Say what we want, but we live in a competitive world, and when it comes to international education, the U.S. HEIs are competitive to the extent that they remain in the field. Rather than retreating, U.S. HEIs must stay in the game and compete successfully with their counterparts in UK, Canada, Australia, and emerging markets such as China and India. In fact, this is exactly the time for HEIs to collectively work on maintaining a robust marketing and promotion campaign to counter the negative perceptions about international education and students by dispelling myths that deter students from wanting to study in the U.S.

What must US HEI’s do?

1. Intellectual Contribution: Reinforce and Raise Awareness

In an article in The Times Higher Education, Dame Nemat Minouche Shafik, Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science states: “…we need to reinforce, raise awareness of and spread the well-established principles that govern what constitutes a valid intellectual contribution. Practices such as peer review, competitive process for funding research, requirements to publish data, and transparency about conflicts of interest are fundamental to academic life. Most people are unaware of these practices, which are the bedrocks of academic quality and progress – we need to spread the practices to other domains such as think tanks and the media.” These are the hallmarks of U.S. higher education and US HEIs need to carefully craft the language that expresses and conveys this to the public without sounding elitist or academic.

2. Messaging

Which brings us to messaging. Where we seem to have faltered is in our messaging and doing a so-so job at communicating without sounding self-serving. We need to turn things around and emphasize the benefits brought to the community and country by international education and students. We need to use the Internet and social media platforms effectively and share personal stories and progresses in research in a language that is approachable and inclusive, one that will draw in the very camp that is opposed to internationalization. In the same report in the Times Higher Education, Dame Shafik suggests one way to accomplish effective messaging is by “working with thoughtful and effective storytellers to reach a wider public – consider, for example, Sir David Attenborough’s work to raise awareness of the environment or Michael Lewis on the risks inherent in financial markets.” Here are a few suggestions to incorporate in our individual and collective messaging on the unique benefits of international students and scholars:

  • Promotes U.S. foreign policy and international leadership
  • Helps the growth of U.S. knowledge economy
  • Spending by the international students and their dependents contributes significantly to the U.S. economy (approximately $13.5 billion)
  • Education exchange is benefits U.S. education as much as it does the international students
  • Education exchanges enhances and ensures U.S. security

3. Tools to Train an Informed Citizenry

While we craft the messaging to the world outside our campuses, our work as educators means that we must also commit to teaching and training our domestic students to become more discerning citizens. We need to teach them the tools they need that will instill in them an appreciation to be critical thinkers, learn how to distinguish propaganda and disinformation from facts so they are better prepared to engage and debate as informed citizens. Our domestic students will serve as our campus ambassadors and who better than they to welcome the international students.

4. Promote Healthy Debate

From teaching and training students to be critical thinkers, we segue to what is deemed as challenging by most and that is creating a space that respects different opinions and allowing both sides to debate and share their points of view, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel. Absence of this neutral zone for public debate hinders any progress we would like to see in raising awareness on the importance and benefits of institutions of higher education. By allowing and fostering healthy debate on our campuses, we can help broaden the minds of our domestic students who may have a narrow opinion on what it is to be an international student.

5. Promote Diversity and Foster Inclusion

Whether it is our intellectual contributions, messaging, training and informed citizenry, and promoting healthy debate, one thing we cannot and should not forget is that the USA is not a homogenized nation but one that is uniquely diverse whose citizens have ancestry representative of every country on the planet. Simply put, what makes the USA unique is the sheer magnitude of its diversity of people. In fact, this diversity must and should be front and center in our conversation with potential international students. It is this diversity that sets the US apart and we should embrace and promote it.

6. Support Study Abroad

Promoting internationalization on our campuses, is a two-way street. At the risk of sounding repetitive, since this message has been expressed before by others, our HEIs need to demonstrate their commitment by being global leaders in higher education by having in place a robust study abroad program and encourage and support study abroad opportunities for their domestic students, and preferably to countries where learning a foreign language is a prerequisite. This experience will foster a camaraderie and mutual understanding between a returning domestic student from studying abroad and a fellow international student at his/her home campus.

7. Don’t Abandon the Marketing Plan

At the sight of trouble, or a downturn in economy, businesses tend to quickly react and slash their marketing budgeting. HEIs do the same, they cut back on recruitment, outreach, and promotion of their programs overseas. Rather than putting marketing on an indefinite hold, a plan needs to be thoughtfully put into place as to how to keep the messaging alive and robust. The first sign of retreat and defeat is to slam on the marketing brakes when the economy is slowing down. We need to keep the messaging consistent, clear and loud.

If we are not careful and let panic set in, the years of work that have made the US an attractive destination for education for students from around the world will be lost and regaining that competitive edge will take a very long time to recover.

HEIs needs to demonstrate the benefits of international education and international students and their value to the community and US economy. HEIs must not simply accept the current dictates set by government as a given. Rather than retrench and retreat, we need to push on and keep at it!

Is your institution experiencing a decline in the number of international student applications? Please share with us what steps your institution has taken or is taking to address this issue.

Sources:

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/opinion/experts-must-fight-back

http://www.nafsa.org/uploadedFiles/NAFSA_Home/Resource_Library_Assets/Public_Policy/restoring_u.s.pdf

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/01/22/nsf-report-documents-declines-international-enrollments-after-years-growth

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

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Diploma Mills: A Serious Problem and They’re Not Going Away

January 26th, 2018

Diploma Mills

Diploma mills and misrepresentation of academic documents continues to be a growing problem in countries around the world.  The BBC 4 recently reported on the serious problem of diploma mills and the large number of fake degrees purchased by UK citizens employed by the National Health Service and defense contracting industry. The UK Department for Education has vowed it is taking “decisive action to crack down on degree fraud” that “cheats genuine learners”. For more on the BBC 4 news report, click here: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42579634 and for an audio recording, click here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09ly731

Here at ACEI, we realize the importance of doing our due diligence in vetting and verifying academic documents and ensuring that they are in fact issued by legitimate educational institutions to individuals who have duly earned them through actual attendance and participation in classes and coursework validated by final examinations.

From time to time, we share tips we’ve gleaned from our years of experience with academic documents and in this week’s blog we’d like to do exactly that and repost a comprehensive to-do list for you. We welcome any tips you would like to add to this list.

Ensuring the authenticity of educational credentials is by far the single most important step in credential evaluation and international student admissions. Without due diligence in fraud detection, we may run the risk of evaluating documents that may have been falsified, or fraudulently procured and admitting the students into our institutions based on unauthentic credentials. As professionals involved in international credential evaluation and admissions, we must remain vigilant and adopt best practices that protect us and the community from fraud.

In this blog post, we offer some tips we had previously posted in January 2017, for you to consider when evaluating international academic credentials. In helping you detect a diploma from a mill, as well as falsified and altered documents.

What is an authentic academic credential?

The definition adopted by the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers is as follows:

An official transcript is one that has been received directly from the issuing institution. It must bear the college seal, date, and an appropriate signature. Transcripts received that do not meet these requirements should not be considered official and should be routinely verified for validity and accuracy before proceeding with the evaluation and admissions consideration.

The 5 Most Common Types of Non-Official and Illegitimate Documents:

  1. Forged or altered documents – Official, legitimate document that have been altered in some way (usually by omissions, addition, or changes)
  2. Inside jobs – these are special cases because the documents are actually produced by institutional employees, usually for a fee; inside jobs are virtually impossible to detect upon initial review.
  3. Fabricated (counterfeit) documents – documents fabricated to represent official documents from real or non-existent institutions (including use of letterheads)
  4. Degree or Diploma Mill Products – The products of degree/diploma mills are not in themselves fabrications but the academic study they purport to represent certainly is.
  5. Creative translations – “Translations” of foreign-language documents that are not just inaccurate but systematically misleading, tantamount to fabrication.

Watch for the Red Flags!

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Checklist of Clues:

  • The application is unusually late, assuming that it would impede verification, or is accompanied by a long letter from an impressive office – usually located in the U.S. – which may be attempting to lend an aura of officialdom to otherwise unacceptable documents. Do not be pressured or rushed into completing the evaluation or reaching an admissions decision;
  • Discrepancies/inconsistencies noted in the application for evaluation;
  • Evidence of corrected personal data (birth date, gender);
  • Document is tampered and has evidence of white-out, burn-marks, erasures, corrections;
  • Credentials do not display misspelling, wrong course titles for the time period, smudges, white-outs, or erasures;
  • Fonts, text layout, and symmetry of documents are correct for that institution’s credentials.
  • Interrupted/obliterated lines where information is generally typed or printed;
  • Missing pictures on diplomas or professional identification cards;
  • Partial seals on the surface of superimposed pictures not on the document surface;
  • Institutional logos are clean and correct for the time period.
  • Signatures of institutional authorities do not look forced, unsteadied, nor copied and pasted.
  • The type is inconsistent throughout the document because subjects have been added or grades changed. In some cases, crude alterations have been made in longhand, or lines may have been typed in at a slight angle to the computer generated originals;
  • Irregular spacing between words or letters, or insufficient space for the text;
  • Questionable paper quality, texture, size (regular or legal), weight coloration;
  • Ink color and quality;
  • Inappropriate or outdated signatures;
  • Incorrect seals/emblems, colors, shapes;
  • Excessive seals and stamps attempting to help the document appear official;
  • Does the document security features, such a embossed seals, foil printing, raised text, or holograms that should be the official document of that country?
  • Applicant claims to have lost the original documents;
  • Applicant claims to have graduated from an institution but can provide only a letter indicating completion of program;
  • Although the applicant had taken external examinations, the certificates have been lost and all he/she has left is a statement of attendance or graduation from the school;
  • You know the education system to be different from US system, yet the transcript appears to be very American, giving, subjects, grades and credit hours in US terms;
  • Grade certificates prepared in a language other than the official language of the country where the document originated. Many countries are currently using official transcripts in English: Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Canada (except Quebec), Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Oman, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and India.
  • Names may have been substituted. Typically, a person will type his/her name on a sheet of paper, cut it out and paste it across a copy of an original, which he/she then photocopies; the substitution of names will rarely appear on an original;
  • Grades listed may be absurdly high, or the number of course hours claimed to have been carried per semester an improbably load;
  • Numerical aberrations: credits do not add up and the overall grade point averages are a mathematical impossibility;
  • Is the educational terminology correct for the country concerned?
  • Use of unprofessional language on academic documents, poor grammar, misspellings;
  • Are there any dates or signatures on the documents?

Our advancement in technology is both a blessing and a curse. With sophisticated computers and printers at their disposal, counterfeiters today produce flawlessly perfect documents that for the uninitiated make it difficult to detect fraud. We hope that the tips shared in this blog and your institution’s enforcement to have in place strict standards for the submission and receipt of academic documents help thwart it and eliminate fraud.

Who ever said international credential evaluation is dull doesn’t know and appreciate what we do. Stay vigilant and happy sleuthing!

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

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