Category Archives: History

International Students and COVID-19

Written by: Fazela Haniff

In August 2006, I was elected the first woman president of the International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA). It was the beginning of a love affair with the internationalization of higher education that would never leave me. Even today, I am not even working in the sector; I am always drawn to the work that is done to keep minds open with a diversity and inclusion lens.

I recently reconnected with a colleague who I met during my presidency at a NAFSA conference, Laura Sippel, amid the COVID-19 posts on LinkedIn. It took only a few chat exchanges to spark all the things on my mind, especially about international students at risk, as I had been posting several issues under the hashtag #HumanityAtRisk. Humanity at risk is what I am concerned about, and for international students, those from financially and politically challenging environments are at higher risks.

Concurrent to my presidency at IEASA, I was also the director of the Wits International Office at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, South Africa. The international student population at Wits was around 3,000 students. A small percentage was from North America and Europe, but it was significant to foster deep collaboration and partnerships. One, in particular, was the development of a multidisciplinary, international human rights undergraduate credit-bearing program. The more substantial percentage was from other African countries, only a small portion are supported by their governments or sponsorships, which were often the bare essentials. The remainder were students who had gotten there on their dime or by family support.

Most of these students survived by pooling their resources to live together, sometimes up to 4-6 people are sharing a small living space. These are the students I am thinking about in this COVID-19 environment. I am sure that the situation at Wits (2006-2011) is no different from campuses around the world. Also, in the North American and European institutions, these students are people of colour. Not too long ago, the targets were Arab Americans, and Arab/Muslim students were on the attack. Now it is Chinese/Asian students. There is a cocktail of brewing discriminatory issues that go along with them, international students and us, local students, politics and the financial situation. Putting this all together in the COVID-19 position is more frightening for the international student population. How can they get the right help for any particular problem, financial, discrimination, health, abuse and stress? Most offices are working off-site remotely. While all institutions are trying to respond to the service needs of their general student population, COVID-19 is adding more barriers to international students.

In South Africa, international students face significant challenges. The housing situation in 2020 is unlikely any different from that that McGregor mentioned in 2014, “Many landlords require them to pay the entire year’s worth of rent in advance. There are medical insurance costs. This is an enormous burden for international students financially, particularly those from less developed countries. International students in universities are still fairly new, and the demand is outpacing the resources that are being allocated. Lack of accommodation is by far the greatest challenge.” It is however a common issue for all students in Sub-Sahara Africa. While data is scarce, according to Samia Chasi of IEASA, “Three days earlier, a local newspaper reported that an estimated 5,382 international students were stranded in university accommodation across the country. Regardless of where they are stranded, these students have required dedicated assistance from often overworked and under-resourced internationalisation professionals at host and home institutions, in collaboration with relevant ministries and diplomatic missions.” She further indicated that COVID-19 is not an equalizing force, as, “Its impact is felt differently in different contexts, with underprivileged individuals and institutions finding themselves on the receiving end of the digital divide.

In Canada, there are different support in different provinces and universities; however, there is a sense of no coordinated effort from a federal level. According to Wesam AbdElhamid Mohamed, international students commissioner at the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), “There is no clear direction of health institutions that are protecting international students.” The organization (Students International) is also asking for post-secondary students, including international students, to be included in the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which allows people economically impacted by the pandemic to claim $2,000 for four months for emergency support. International students contributed an estimated $21.6 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2018, according to the federal government. “So that’s why we feel that it’s truly essential to include them in the emergency program,” Mohamed said.”

[1] Karen MacGregor, 06 September 2014,https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20140905134914811

[2] Samia Chasi, https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20200408093750683

[3] Sherina Harris, https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/author/sharris01

In the current situation, some good practices and solutions can come from different parts of society. In Australia, last Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said international students and other visa holders were “not held here compulsorily. If they’re not in a position to be able to support themselves, then there is the alternative for them to return to their home countries,”. The Melbourne City Council has become the first government at any level in Australia to pledge financial support for international students amid fears they are falling through the cracks because they are not eligible for government welfare. Later, the government of Australia make a shift, in the same light, to now offer financial support to international students.

According to Viggo Stacey, New Zealand has introduced a wage subsidy for international students; however, it is for students who cannot do their jobs during the lockdown period.

Callan Quinn stated that last week, Canada announced that international students will be included in measures to help those who lose their jobs as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Like citizens of the country, they will be able to apply for temporary income support of up to CAN$500 a week for up to sixteen weeks provided they meet certain criteria. This is the most comprehensive support, so far, by a federal government.

According to a report by Dr Rahul Choudaha, International Students contribute over US$300 Billion to economies across the globe. “Together, the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, and the Netherlands enrolled half the world’s international post-secondary students in 2016. That year, considering direct, indirect, and induced impacts, international students contributed:
US$57.3 billion to the US;
US$25.5 billion to the UK;
US$19.8 billion to Australia;
US$14.5 billion to France, and France charges no to low tuition fees for international students;
US$14.4 billion to Germany, and international students do not pay tuition fees in Germany;
US$11.1 billion to Canada;
US$5.3 billion to the Netherlands, a country that charges differential tuition fee for EU and non-EU international students.”

From a diversity and inclusion lens, let us see how universities and countries, that benefit from this injection of wealth from international students, will treat them during this pandemic. I am sure their respective reactions will impact what happens to their institutions, cities and country and the flow of international student’s income after COVID-19.

[4] https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/melbourne-city-council-pledges-financial-support-for-foreign-students-20200408-p54i63.html

[5] https://studytravel.network/magazine/news/0/27376

[6] Viggo Stacey,  https://thepienews.com/news/nz-wage-subsidy-scheme-open-for-intl-students/

[7] https://thepienews.com/analysis/top-study-coronavirus-intl-students/

[8] https://monitor.icef.com/2019/08/international-students-generate-global-economic-impact-of-us300-billion/

Fazela HANIFF immigrated to Canada in 1974 from Guyana, lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for plus 2 years, then to South Africa from 1994 to 2012 and returned to Canada in 2012. Through a Diversity and Inclusion Lens, Ms. Haniff is an HR, OD and HE internationalisation specialist. Ms Haniff completed her Human Resources Management studies at Ryerson University, Higher Education Management from the University of the Witwatersrand and Bachelor of Business Administration from Yorkville University. She is the Past President of the International Education Association of South Africa and first woman president. In 2010 she received an award in recognition of “Exemplary Leadership as IEASA President”. She has contributed widely to the internationalization dialogue via presentations and workshops to IIE, NIEA, NAFSA, EAIE, EAIE, IEASA, APAIE, and contributed to numerous publications related to international higher education. Fazela currently lives in Toronto, Canada.


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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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“In the war against fake news “white privilege” is losing.

September 20th, 2019

white_privelege

Some time ago, a friend replied to one of my Facebook posts where I had shared an article on the college admission scandal. My friend had simply written “white privilege.” In response, another friend wrote that she was “so sick of white privileged (sic) being thrown around.” I realized that she was correct in this case, in that the article didn’t really have much to do with white privilege. However, after a few more responses from her it quickly became clear to me that she didn’t understand what the term meant. She talked about how her father came as an immigrant and made his way to success. The fact that she wanted to make it clear that he had earned his money cemented in my mind, that she really didn’t understand what “white privilege” meant.

I decided to find the best definition I could, so I returned to McIntosh’s 1989 seminal article “White Privilege, Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” then wrote my own Facebook-length precis. I was certain that once she understood the concept better, she would change her opinion. She did not. In fact, she insisted that that not all white people were rich, which made it abundantly clear that she wasn’t open to considering that this shameful sounding phrase could mean anything other than that white people were successful just because they were white. In fact, the concept of “white privilege” has little to do with money and success but more to do with the opportunities afforded white people just because they aren’t people of color (which can lead to money and success).

There’s a house in my neighborhood which I pass almost daily. Posted on the front is a hand-written sign that reads “All lives are equal therefore all lives matter.” Next to it a confederate flag with a middle finger sticking up in the center, proudly hangs. Each time I pass I am reminded of all the slogans various communities have come up with to try to gain acceptance and or understanding of their plight.

Black lives matter

Me too

Safe space signs

The rainbow pride flag

Diversity and Inclusion

And then I think of the backlash to all of these movements. I was recently staying at an Airbnb and was talking to the host, who wanted to joke about his “man boobs” but told me he felt he no longer could “because of that ridiculous Me Too movement.” Another example of a lack of understanding of the problem.

I recently saw another sign in a yard that read “we support our police. They work every day to save our lives.” I agree but I can’t help thinking this is the backlash against Black Lives Matter, which never meant to say that police lives didn’t

As a lifelong student of racism, homophobia, sexism, let’s just say all the isms; I am constantly in dialogue with people of all colors on issues of race and more so now that I work in diversity and inclusion. So, in an attempt to simplify the messages, I came up with the following:

White privilege ≠ White shame

Black Lives Matter ≠ White and Blue lives don’t matter

Safe space ≠ Coddling

Me too ≠ you can’t flirt with women or ask them out on a date anymore

Diversity and Inclusion ≠ you have to like all cultures

Though with the last one, I must add that I agree with Trevor Noah who, in his Netflix show, Son of Patricia said, “There should be a rule in America. You can hate immigrants all you want but if you do, you don’t get to eat their food.”

Helpful links:
https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/mcintosh.pdf
https://www.vulture.com/2018/11/trevor-noah-netflix-special-son-of-patricia-best-jokes.html

Reading List:
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo

Informative Podcasts:
“1619” The New York Times
“Seeing White,” Scene on Radio


k_hylen
Kathleen Hylen, M.A. International Education Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Graduated with honors from UC, Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Community Studies, focus on anti-bias. Kathleen is also a member of ACEI’s Professional Consultancy Team. Her focus is on helping institutions and organizations develop and/or bolster their diversity and inclusion strategies. For more information, please contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org.

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Our Planet: 911 Emergency

July 19th, 2019

On July 10, 2019, a network representing more than “7,000 higher and further education institutions from six continents have announced that they are declaring a ‘climate emergency’, and agreed to undertake a three-point plan to address the crisis through their work with students.”  As the letter from the representatives of the 7,000 plus institutions states: “The young minds that are shaped by our institutions must be equipped with the knowledge, skills and capability to respond to the ever-growing challenges of climate change. We all need to work together to nurture a habitable planet for future generations and to play our part in building a greener and cleaner future for all.”

In this week’s blog, we share this insightful piece by our guest blogger, Tom Schnabel who writes about the Apollo 11 Moon landing and the music it inspired about our blue planet called Earth.  For, as Tom mentions in his piece, it was the “magnificent sight of our planet earth seen from the moon as a small blue ball (that) provided a spark in the environmental movement.” As those involved in international education, let’s work together to bring awareness to the plight of our planet, the well being of its inhabitants, and the future we would like to leave behind for generations to come.

LunarEagle
The Apollo 11 lunar lander Eagle returning to the Columbia command module for the journey back to Earth. Photo: NASA


The Apollo 11 moon landing that took place on July 20, 1969, represented a staggering achievement for the human race. The desire to explore outside the earth’s boundaries reached back to Mesopotamia, ancient Babylon and Persia, also with Aristotle and the ancient Greeks, and later with cosmologists Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, and Galileo’s observations. While Einsteinian physics had unlocked more information about the universe, nobody ever viewed the earth from the moon until 1969.

President Kennedy promised in 1961 to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, and he put forward the resources to make it happen. The Apollo space capsule and the computer systems of Mission Control in Houston are primitive by today’s standards, but the astronauts made the voyage there and back in eight days. Rocket scientist Wernher von Braun said of the moon landing, “What we will have attained when Neil Armstrong steps down on the moon is a completely new step in the evolution of man. For the first time, life will leave its planetary cradle, and the ultimate destiny of man will no longer be confined to these familiar continents that we have known so long.”

Over the past fifty years since the landing, many musicians have found inspiration in the historic moment and responded in song. Brazilian superstar Caetano Veloso was in a sweltering Brazilian jail when his wife handed him a newspaper with a picture of a little blue planet as seen from the moon. He was so moved by it that he later wrote the song “Terra” (“Earth”). Read the English translation of the lyrics here.

Brian Eno composed an ethereal, floating suite called Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks for the documentary film For All Mankind, which celebrates the earth’s beauty and the Apollo space program. An expanded edition of the soundtrack with 11 new tracks will be released on July 19 in celebration of the 50thanniversary of the landing. You can listen to the original remarkable sonic journey in its entirety below:

The electronic artist Michael Adam Kandel, aka Tranquility Bass, took his stage name from the Tranquility Base landing site in the Sea of Tranquility, the area of the moon where the Apollo 11 crew touched down. I’ve always liked his catchy tune called “Cantamilla.”

I learned from this past Sunday’s New York Times Apollo 11 special section that Duke Ellington composed and performed the song “Moon Maiden” for the event.

There have been countless tributes to this historic achievement over the years, some listed here in this New York Times article. I highly recommend the 2019 documentary Apollo 11, which tells the story with previously unseen footage from the development to the actual landing. You might also check out an interesting show called Apollo 11: the Immersive Live Show, playing at the Rose Bowl through August 11.

Fifty years ago, the magnificent sight of our planet earth seen from the moon as a small blue ball provided a spark in the environmental movement. This anniversary seems all the more poignant today as governments and climate-change deniers roll back environmental protections and cut down huge swaths of rain forests to plant soybean and palm oil trees. It is a dire situation–global warming will increase to the point where life as we know could be seriously threatened by 2050. One can only hope that this anniversary will serve as a reminder of what’s at stake back home on earth, even as we seek to return to the moon and continue to explore beyond our solar system.

full


toms

Tom Schnabel, M.A.

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

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Happy 4th of July!

July 4th, 2019

Screenshot 2019-07-04 09.12.01

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USA: A Potpourri of Accents, Cultures, Languages, and More

June 21st, 2019

map_diverse

Image credit: Korean-Born Artist Sungho Choi explores the inherent cultural diversity of the United States in this cermaic on wood installation titled “My America.”

In this week’s blog we would like to share a few interactive maps produced by The Business Insider that show immigration patterns in the U.S. and a few others that show the diversity of cultures and different languages spoken, other than English and Spanish. You may be surprised to find for example that the most common language spoken in California besides English, is not Spanish, but Tagalog. A recent report in The Washington Post shows that 20% of adults living in our nation’s capital can’t read or write. We’re also sharing a link to an interactive map that shows the States in the U.S. with the least and most educated population.

We hope you’ll find these maps informative and mind-opening as we did:

History of Immigration to the U.S.
VIDEO https://www.businessinsider.com/animated-map-shows-history-immigration-us-america-2015-9

The Most and Least Educated States in the U.S.
VIDEO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npSGoesVK9E&fbclid=IwAR29KN-w1HtKw61ccNa4pjvd49I2sagKiNHgg73pY3mjwxYhlPgyhw530OA

The Most Commonly Spoken Languages in the U.S. besides English and Spanish
VIDEO https://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-the-most-common-language-in-every-state-map-2019-6?fbclid=IwAR26oJOru4_WJM1wA1JDNTW5dKC0puzydOc6AI-B3MAvNpQQ0aCrPBEulIo

The Origin of American Accents Across the U.S.
VIDEO https://www.businessinsider.com/animated-map-where-american-accents-come-from-2018-5

Source credit: The Business Insider www.businessinsider.com


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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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Greece: Shakeup at the Higher Education Level

May 17th, 2019

Greece

The Greek government recently announced the merging of its technological education institutes (TEIs) into universities. Here are some facts on this merger with a brief overview of the universities and TEIs and the anticipated impact of the merger on Greece’s higher education system:

About the merger:

  • By a vote of 147 in favor and 100 against, Greece’s parliament, passed the new higher education law that allows existing graduates of TEIs to upgrade their degrees to full university qualifications.
  • The new law will allow those employed by the government who are graduates of TEIs to qualify for higher salaries once relegated to university degree holders.
  • Guesstimates claim anywhere up to 400,00 TEI graduates will have their degrees upgraded.

 Here are a few facts on Greece’s higher education system:

  • Prior to the passing of this new law, Greece had 2 sectors of higher education: 1) the university sector; and 2) the technological sector.
  • The university sector encompassed Research Universities, Technical Universities (Polytechneia), School of Fine Arts, and the Open University.
  • The technological sector included Technological Education Institutions (Technologika Ekpedeftika Idrimata/TES) and the School of Pedagogical and Technological Education (ASPETE).
  • Greece has 23 universities and 15 TEIs (including the School of Pedagogical and Technological Education)
  • Minimum academic requirement for admission to the first cycle of undergraduate programs at institutions in the university and technological sectors require the Apolytirio Genikou Lykeiou (secondary school certificate).
  • Institutions in the university sector offer not only undergraduate but postgraduate and doctoral level degree programs.
  • Institutions in the technological sector offer only undergraduate level degree programs.
  • The duration of most Greek university first degree programs is 4 years. There are 5-year degree programs in the following specialties: agriculture, architecture, dentistry, engineering, and veterinary science and 6-year program in medicine.
  • The degree awarded on completion of the university program is the Ptychio and for engineering and agriculture studies it is the Diploma.
  • Completion of a final paper in the 4-year program is not required but it is typically required in the 5-year engineering and agricultural programs.
  • Entrance to the postgraduate programs requires completion of the first degree validated by the Ptychio from either a university or TEI or a university Diploma. Postgraduate programs lead to the award of the Metaptychiako Diploma Eidikefsis (postgraduate diploma or specialization) after 2 years of study and completion of a final paper/thesis.
  • Doctoral level studies usually take 3 to 4 years and require for entrance the Metaptychiako Diploma Eidikefsis. The degree of Didaktor is awarded after defense of the doctoral thesis. In some cases, students may be admitted directly to the doctoral program with a Ptychio or

Here are what critics of the new law are saying:

  • The upgrading of the TEIs to universities will devalue degrees of those who have met stricter admission and program requirements at universities.
  • Some fear that those working for government will want to have their pay enhancements backdated to reflect this upgrade of their degrees.
  • Many are concerned that overnight the mergers have promoted TEI faculty to full university professors.
  • Critics claim that universities and other stakeholders were not included in the discussions about the merger of universities and TEIs which they see as having been forced through by the government.
  • TEIs that have been upgraded to universities have many departments and academic programs that have not been accredited.

 Here is what Kostas Garoglou, Greece’s education minister, has said to counter the criticism:

  • TEI degrees would not be automatically upgraded which are contingent on when the studies were completed, as additional criteria will be established in the next 6 months.
  • TEI faculty who will become university professors could be barred from responsibilities such as supervision of Ph.D. candidates if their experience is deemed insufficient.
  • In some instances, TEI’s research endeavors exceed those of universities.
  • TEIs are mistakenly seen as second-class institutions which Greece’s ministry hopes this merger will help rectify.

We will report back on this evolving new law as more information becomes available.

Sources:

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/05/09/change-degrees-greece-criticized-political-not-educational

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/greek-reforms-set-upgrade-thousands-graduates-degrees

https://www.nuffic.nl/en/subjects/education-and-diplomas-greece/


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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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COLOMBIA: Education and Opportunities

May 10th, 2019

columbia

Recently, ACEI’s President & CEO, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, spoke on Colombia’s education system and opportunities for student mobility through its e-learning webinar series. And last week on May 4-5, at the invitation of the Embassy of Colombia in the U.S., ACEI attended the inaugural education fair hosted by the Embassy of Colombia in the U.S. on the campus of University of Illinois, Chicago. Clearly, the Colombian government is keen on reinforcing its connections with the U.S. and forging new relationships with U.S. institutions of higher education. In this week’s blog, we will share some highlights of this webinar.

On November 24, 2016, the Colombian government and the guerilla group known as FARC abbreviation of Spanish Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) signed a final peace agreement officially ending fifty-two years of conflict that had claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced more than 7 million people. The nearly five-decade long internal conflict has had an enormous impact Colombia’s the socio and economic development and education.

2columbia
(L) Former Colombian President, Juan Manual Santos shaking hands (R) with Rodigo Londoño, top FARC rebel commander at the signing ceremony of the peace agreement. Photo credit: Fernando Vergara/Associated Press

Over the past two decades the Colombian education system has undergone a fundamental transformation. One of the most visible outcomes is the impressive expansion of access to all levels of education thanks in part to ambitious policies to tackle barriers to enrollment, making higher education affordable, and bringing education services to all parts of the country. In fact, Colombia has made a pledge to become the “most education” country in Latin America by 2025.

Colombia has undergone a silent revolution, undetected by the international community. In just a decade, there has been a sharp rise in student enrollments at all level of the education sector. There was even a 2.1% increase in the number of students traveling from Colombia to the U.S. to study in 2016/2017.

The U.S. is the preferred destination for Colombian students pursuing higher education. And the preferred states are California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Florida. The fields of studies in most demand are business administration, management, finance, banking, marketing and engineering.

You may ask why is the U.S. preferred over Canada or the United Kingdom? Obviously, is proximity is one reason but most importantly Colombians view studying in the U.S. as enhancing their employment opportunities after graduation when returning back home. Securing a high level position within the government or a prominent national or multinational company is much more difficult without proficient English skills and/or a master’s degree. There is a renewed push by the Colombian government to encourage English bilingualism, student see studying in the U.S. as a chance to improve and strengthen their English skills.

And another reason is that more Colombian businesses are increasing their presence and operation in the U.S. They prefer hiring bilingual Colombians with experience of having lived in the U.S. and who are knowledgeable of U.S. business practices and American culture.

Colombian universities are also interested in having agreements with U.S. universities to offer dual degree programs for their students. The Colombian government’s mandate is that a well-educated Colombian population is vital to the country’s economic growth and global competitiveness.

As the peace process solidifies in Colombia and the country becomes more stable and prosperous, the U.S. higher education institutions are in a good place to look at Colombian institutions and their students to strengthen their exchange programs.

For a link to a recording of ACEI’s e-learning webinar on Colombia that includes additional information on Colombia’s education system, study exchange possibilities, scholarship programs and resources, please email ACEI acei@acei-global.org and include “Colombia: Education & Opportunities” in the subject line.


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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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