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SYRIA: Education in Exile

March 29th, 2019

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Syria’s brutal civil war that began in 2011 has created the world’s largest displacement crisis, with almost 5.7 million registered refugees, including more than 2.5 million Syrian children now living in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. (In 2016, we posted an extensive piece on the Syrian conflict and its impact on the education system and the millions of its citizens who have been displaced. Click here to read more.)

The civil war has led to the creation of the Syrian Interim Government, an alternative government or a government in exile of the Syrian Opposition, which has been formed by the opposition umbrella group, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. The interim government is seated in exile in Turkey. Its headquarters in Syria are located in the city of Azaz in Turkish-occupied northern Syria.

In effect, at this time, there are 2 governments in operation representing Syria: the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) led by President Assad and the Syrian Interim Government (SIG). Because of the conflict, the Ministry of Education (MOE) in SAR has placed the entire curriculum of secondary education on-line to allow for students to self-study. In this case, students will not receive a report card or transcript for each year of study. The only document they will receive is the certificate for final exams for the Secondary Baccalaureate which provides them access to tertiary education at the universities in Syria.

In direct opposition to the government of President Assad, the SIG’s MOE has instituted its own secondary curriculum for those in the Turkish refugee camps and Syrian schools in Turkey and offers its own Secondary Baccalaureate examinations. The Interim Government’s MOE is working closely with the MOE in the Turkish government to coordinate efforts between the two ministries to oversee all Syrian schools in Turkey. It is also discussing how Syrian university students living in exile can be admitted into Turkish universities to continue their education and qualify for scholarships.

Until recently, Turkey, and with some limitations, France, had been the only countries recognizing the Secondary Baccalaureate examinations administered by the Syrian Interim Government. But on March 11, 2019, the MOE under the Syrian Interim Government announced that its diplomas are being recognized by several European universities in the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden. The diplomas are not recognized by the Syrian Arab Government’s MOE and any Syrian returning to Syria will not be granted admission to the universities based on the SIG MOE’s Secondary Diploma.


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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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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22nd, 2018

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From all of us at Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), we want to wish everyone a relaxing Thanksgiving. We are thankful for all of you.

According to a 2000 study by Emmons and Crumpler, people who regularly express gratitude have better physical health, more optimism, enhanced well-being, and help others more.* So, don’t worry about the 2nd or 3rd helping this Thanksgiving. Adopting an attitude of gratitude will do miracles for the physique!

Cheers!

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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.

*If you don’t believe me, here’s the link: https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/10.1521/jscp.2000.19.1.56

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7 Facts on the SQA and SQA Advanced Qualifications

November 16th, 2018

sqa

In this week’s blog, we would like to spotlight the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and their Advanced Qualifications. In partnership with SQA, ACEI has reviewed and evaluated the qualifications in Accounting, Business and Computing for U.S. educational equivalence comparability and credit equivalence.

1. Who is the SQA?

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is an international leader in education and qualifications development. The SQA has over 100 years’ experience in developing qualifications and qualifications systems, and over 20 years’ experience of working internationally in partnership with schools, colleges, universities, employers, training organizations, industry professionals, professional bodies, and governments.
SQA helps individuals realize their potential and achieve their ambitions by providing a wide range of high-quality, internationally recognized qualifications, and associated services.
Based in Glasgow, SQA is a not-for-profit government-sponsored organization, accountable to the Scottish Government, and sits at the heart of Scotland’s world- renowned education system.

2. What are SQA Advanced Qualifications?

SQA Advanced Qualifications are internationally recognized higher education qualifications at certificate and diploma level. They develop the theoretical knowledge and practical skills — such as information technology, communication, and problem solving — expected by a university or employer.
They have been developed to meet the skills needs of employers, and the requirements of education professionals, and also to enable advanced entry into many undergraduate degree programs in universities and higher education institutions.

3. Why study an SQA Advanced Qualification?

Achieving an SQA Advanced Certificate or SQA Advanced Diploma is one of the best ways to progress onto further studies or develop a career.

Here are 3 reasons why:

i. Valued by universities

An SQA Advanced Diploma is equivalent to the first two years of a degree, and is a recognized route into year 2 or 3 of a related degree program at home or overseas.

ii. Internationally recognized qualifications, designed by experts

Sitting at the heart of Scotland’s world-renowned education system, SQA works in partnership to ensure qualifications are suitable, relevant, and up to date.

iii. Career-focused and trusted by employers

SQA qualifications enable our delivering centers to form industry and employer partnerships that provide opportunities to combine studying with on the job experience.


4. Who are SQA Advanced Qualifications for?

They are suitable for a wide range of learners, including: school leavers, adult returners to education, employees who wish to enhance their career prospects and people who wish to start their own business.

An SQA Advanced Qualification is ideal for students who would like to move on to a related undergraduate degree program at home or overseas, students who would like to study for a degree at an English-speaking university, or students who intend to enter into the workplace.

5. How do SQA Advanced Qualifications work?

i. Practical Learning

SQA Advanced Qualifications aim to develop the high-level transferable skills and academic knowledge required for degree study or work. They use practical approaches to learning, with study methods including project and assignment work, group work, presentations, and case studies.

ii. Assessment

Subjects are assessed in different ways. SQA Advanced Qualifications use a variety of assessment methods, such as an exam, essay, project, investigation and/or a practical assignment. Assessment is quality assured through internal verification (using an institution’s own staff) and external verification (using SQA subject experts from the education sector).

iii. Certification

On successful completion of your SQA Advanced Qualification you will receive:
An SQA certificate stating the title of the qualification achieved
A listing of all the units passed and the Graded Units

iv. Progression

Once students have successfully achieved the SQA Advanced Qualification they have a number of options. They can progress on to a degree course in university at home or overseas through our Diploma to Degree program, do a qualification with a professional body, or go straight into employment.

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6. Does the Diploma lead to a Degree?

The Diploma to Degree program is a well-established and successful route for students to complete an SQA Advanced Diploma and then progress directly on to the second or third year of a related undergraduate degree with one of our university partners.

SQA has partnered and set up progression pathway agreements with a number of highly regarded international institutions in countries around the world, covering various progression models, including online delivery. These institutions recognize the SQA Advanced Diploma as evidence of a student’s capability, given the quality learning experience it provides, and as a result offer advanced entry.

Many students study for an SQA Advanced Diploma in their home country before progressing on to a related undergraduate degree either within their own country or abroad. This can be a cost-effective route for those looking to gain international experience while achieving a degree.
Successful graduates can study at universities around the world, including in the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

Please note that individual universities may ask for additional entry requirements.
www.sqa.org.uk/studyoptions

 

7. What about Professional Body Exemptions?

Many professional bodies in the UK and internationally recognize the quality and value of an SQA Advanced Qualification, and in some cases may offer exemptions to criteria for membership. For example, individuals may not have to do an exam as their SQA Advanced Qualification may also satisfy an entry requirement for membership.
www.sqa.org.uk/advancedqualifications

 

CONTACT:

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For more information on available courses and centers in your area delivering SQA Advanced Qualifications: www.sqa.org.uk/advancedqualifications email: articulation@sqa.org.uk

 

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For more information on the evaluation of SQA Advanced Qualifications and their U.S. educational comparability, please contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org

 

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AN EVALUATOR’S JOURNEY

November 9th, 2018

Sunset

When I accepted my mother’s invitation to accompany her to a cocktail party, I did so reluctantly. It was July 1982 and as a freshly minted college grad with a BA in Political Science the last thing I wanted to do was attend a party with my mother. It turned out to be the best thing I could have done as I left the party with not one but three job offers. I decided to forgo the offer of working at a law office (even though I was toying with the idea of going to Law School), or a real estate office (numbers were not my forte) and chose instead to accept the hostess’s invitation to work at her private not-for-profit Foundation that specialized in international education research and evaluation. The rest, as they say is history. Over a course of thirteen years, I worked my way up the proverbial ladder from file clerk, to junior then senior evaluator, assistant to associate director and finally as Executive Director. Bitten by the entrepreneur spirit and an MBA in hand, I bid goodbye to my mentor and founded the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI) in 1994.

You can say I was born into the field of International education. Beginning from an early age by insisting on “working” at the education firm my mother headed in Tehran, Iran, to attending an international boarding school in England, and continuing my higher education in the U.S. The same is true for my brother and business partner, Alan Saidi, who joined me at ACEI in 1996 as Senior VP and COO. Together, we have infused into ACEI our personal life experiences of having lived in three different continents and benefiting from three different education systems (Iran, UK, and USA). Our mission has always been to make ACEI a company that truly cares for and values its international candidates who are considering to further their education, or qualify for employment, immigration or professional licensing or maybe they are displaced because of war and conflict and seeking refuge in the U.S.

Our own experiences, as international students morphed into immigrants, have enriched our understanding of the dreams of international students, immigrants and the plight of refugees. We have also garnered a deep appreciation of world cultures and the varied nuances of education systems around the world. Together with a team of expert evaluators we pride ourselves in ACEI’s history of over 22 years of dedicated service in international credential evaluation and helping our colleagues at U.S. schools and colleges with the admission of students from around the globe. We continue to share our experience through our e-learning training programs, our blog AcademicExchange, our monthly newsletter The Report, and by contributing to publications on world education systems, and speaking at various international education conferences.

As an Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators, we at ACEI are committed in preparing evaluations by recommending U.S. educational equivalencies that are consistent and in compliance with the Association’s Standards and Best Practices.

If you are exploring opportunities of outsourcing your international student credential evaluations, we hope you will consider ACEI as your number one source. You and your international students will receive the personal care and attention we know you deserve. It is our mission to be of service and we want to be your trusted source for international credential evaluations.

Kind regards,
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

jasmin_2015
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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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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20 Facts on North Korea

October 12th, 2018

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North Korea continues to take center stage in world news. By isolating and cutting itself off from the rest of the world, North Korea has been a land of mystery and curiosity to the outside world. Unfortunately, the country has also harbored and covered up unimaginable atrocities against its people and continues to terrorize its neighboring countries and the world with its terrifying weapons programs. As tensions escalate, here are a few facts on the hermit nation:

Country Facts

1. Official name: Democratic Republic of Korea

2. Population: 25,115,311 (estimated as of July 2016)

3. Geography: North Korea has an area of 46,000 similar in size to Pennsylvania is 46,054 square miles, or 119,279 square kilometers.

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4. Capital: Pyongyang.

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Pyongyang, North Korea

5. Quick History: Japan controlled the Korean Peninsula from 1910 till end of WWII. After WWII, the U.S. occupied the southern half of the peninsula and the Russians occupied the north half. In 1945, Kim Il-Sung became the country’s first leader and since then the country has been led by three generations of the same family. In 1948, unable to resolve regional differences, the country split into the north and the south each with its own government. When North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, the United Nations intervened with troops. The war with North Korea continued until 1953 when a peace treaty was signed and the two regions officially broke apart to form two countries: North Korea (Democratic Republic of Korea) and South Korea (Republic of Korea).

6. Head of State: North Korea is led by Kim Jong-un since the death of his father in 2011.

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7. Calendar: North Korea uses an official Juche calendar based on Kim Il-Sung’s date of birth which is April 15, 1912. The year 2012 on the Gregorian calendar is considered Juche 101.

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Education Facts

8. Literacy: According to the CIA World Factbook, North Korea claims 100% literacy rate for both men and women.

9. Music: The accordion is considered the “people’s instrument” because its portable and can be taken when doing a day of labor in the fields. Every teacher in North Korea is required to play the accordion.

10. Type of Schools: There are three types of schools in North Korea which include the general school system, schools for continuing education, and schools for special purposes.

11. General School System: Covers kindergarten, elementary schools, secondary schools, and higher education. Kindergarten is two years, begins at age four and is free and compulsory. Elementary starts at age six and four years. Secondary schools is 6 years and divided into two levels: lower-level middle schools which is for ages 10-13 and is four years; followed by higher-level high school which is for ages 14-15 and is two years.

12. Continuing Education: North Korea puts a lot of emphasis on continuing or adult education which is attached to farms, factories, and fishery cooperatives.

13. Special Purpose Schools: These schools are exclusively for talented and gifted children and children of the elite. Students join these schools from the age of 5. The program is 10 years in length. There are other special purpose schools for the arts and sports which admit students between 6 to 18 years of age. The special purpose schools for foreign languages admits students between 10 to 18 years of age. The schools for science admit students between 10 to 21 years of age.

14. Universities: North Korea has three main universities that students attend. These are Koryo Sungkyunkwan University, Kin Ch’aek Technical University, and Kim II Sung University.

15. Other Institutions of Higher Education: The University of Natural Science and the Kin Chaek University of Technology. Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies trains trade officials and working level diplomats and Kim Hyong Jik trains teachers.

16. Access to Higher Education: Students who complete secondary schools must be recommended in order to continue their studies at the university level. Only students who are highly loyal to the party and are from a desirable social class are given a recommendation by their instructors to progress to higher education. Students who do not get any recommendation are relegated to work in the mines and farms, or to join the military.

17. Higher Education: The General School System of academic higher education is for universities where students can pursue degree programs of four to six years in duration. University graduates can continue their studies at the master and doctoral level. Primary school teachers receive their training at Teacher’s Colleges which takes three years and those attending junior colleges complete three years of study.

Strange Facts

18. Time Zone: On August 15, 2015, North Korea adopted its own time zone known as Pyongyang Time to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan. It’s about 30 minutes behind Japan and South Korea.

19. Haircuts: North Korea has 28-state-approved haircuts, 18 for women and 10 for men:

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20. Illegal & Legal: Blue jeans are illegal in North Korea as they are seen as symbols of American imperialism. But, cannabis/pot is legal in North Korea

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For further information on the world education systems and credential evaluations, visit our website at www.acei-global.org or contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org.

Sources:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/candacelowry/surprising-facts-you-may-not-know-about-north-korea?utm_term=.ci944YGEYW#.nfEJJwMLwZ

http://www.ajc.com/news/national/north-korea-what-you-should-know-about-the-country-and-its-people/aheWKpsOdLHqLpPN6ssy6N/

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/kn.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/r-turning-back-the-clock-north-korea-creates-pyongyang-standard-time-2015-8

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/04/2012410111258757121.html

https://www.buzzfeed.com/candacelowry/surprising-facts-you-may-not-know-about-north-korea?utm_term=.ci944YGEYW#.nfEJJwMLwZ

http://www.studycountry.com/guide/KP-education.htm

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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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Which approach do you use when evaluating international credentials? Year-counting or Benchmarking?

October 5th, 2018

benchmarking

At the recent TAICEP conference in Philadelphia, PA, ACEI President & CEO, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert and Melanie Gottlieb, Deputy Director at AACRAO presented a session on Understanding the Different Credential Evaluation Philosophies. In this week’s blog, we will provide a recap of the key points addressed in the presentation.

Why are there different credential evaluation philosophies?

Absence of a governmental body that helps shape standards to guide and monitor international credential evaluation
U.S. institutions base their evaluation philosophies on their admissions models (open vs. threshold vs. holistic)
Credential evaluation service providers are autonomous and are trying to produce a universally acceptable product to both university and the client
State/Territorial Licensing Boards have unique academic requirements
US Customs & Immigration Service enforce unique criteria for the purposes of employment-based visas
Economics of higher education shape the way credentials are evaluated

What are the two credential evaluation approaches?

• Benchmarking
• Year-counting (Quantitative)

What is the Benchmarking approach?

Benchmarking is usually more readily accepted at the pre-university level. (11 years, even 10, is not usually rejected by most institutions and credential evaluation services).

What is the Year-Counting (Quantitative) approach?

Year-counting is much more rigidly followed at the post-secondary level where three year degrees/diplomas are not widely accepted for academic or professional purposes

Why Year-Counting?

• Used because an internal qualitative comparison is not always easy to do
• Quality is impossible to measure
• Quantitative comparisons, using the US model, are quick and easy
• It avoids the quality pronouncements that are just too subjective when comparing degrees

Why Benchmarking?

• The benchmarking method is where the significant achievements are compared throughout the education system
• Conclusion of primary, lower secondary, secondary, first post-secondary degree, terminal post-graduate degree

What is the best approach? Combination of Year-counting and Benchmarking?

• The best way to approach international credential evaluation is a judicious application of BOTH methodologies

What are the dilemmas of the dual philosophies?

• General Education courses (unique to US and US-patterned education systems
• Inequity (3-year Bologna-compliant Bachelor’s degrees treated differently than 3-year Indian Bachelor’s degree)
• Inconsistency in credential evaluation outcomes (e.g. evaluation prepared for a graduate admission differs than one for professional board)
• Stunted growth aka “Theory of Retarding Lead” (Has U.S., once leading in international ed, stopped innovating?)
• Global competition (more countries entering the field and vying for the international student market)

What are the practical concerns for credential evaluators?

• Credential Evaluation services prepare multi-purpose evaluations (for admission to HEIs, employment, professional licensing, immigration, each having unique requirements)
• Adopt one or continue with the dual philosophies (benchmarking for high school completion, year-counting for graduate degree comparability, or a combination)
• Remaining consistent
• U.S. HEI: autonomy does not allow for national evaluation standards and the staff at HEI’s who are most engaged with the topic may not have either the influence or the sophistication to make change
• The growing movement of the global recognition convention and its implications for the US

How do we resolve the concerns?

• Need for transparency from HEI’s on performance of those admitted to graduate studies based on 3-year degrees
• What are US HEIs doing to remain competitive globally?
• Some credential evaluation services have a mutual understanding of fundamental standards (e.g. AICE and its Endorsed Members adhere to the AICE Standards)
• Increased focus on training for HEIs to understand their role and increase their sophistication in the evaluation process
• Increased engagement with professional accreditors and state licensing boards

At ACEI, we apply both year-counting and benchmarking approaches when evaluating international credentials. Let us know which approach you use or prefer using and why. We look forward to hearing from you.

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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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Latest News on India’s Regulatory Bodies: UGC and AICTE

August 10th, 2018

ACEI_Blog_-_INDIA_News_of_Indias_Regulatory_Bodies__Compatibility_Mode_
If you hadn’t heard already, until recently, India’s government was considering an ambitious plan, proposed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Higher Education, to merge the University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the two regulatory bodies, into a single higher education regulator. This single education regulator was tentatively named Higher Education Evaluation and Regulation Authority (HEERA). Given that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is in its last year, and India is preparing itself for its next election, new legislation to form a single education regulator to be determined in such a short time does not appear to have been favored by legislators. Instead, the government has decided to wait and settled for a revamp of UGC, AICTE and the National Council of Technical Education.

The UGC is a statutory body established to confer degrees and grant funding and set up quality benchmarks for universities and institutions of higher education. AICTE, also a statutory body, was established to oversee technical institution and ensure they meet quality standards.

AICTE has questioned the need for and feasibility of a single education regulator by bringing to light the measures it has taken to reform much of its regulatory criteria. Altogether, focus appears to have been shifted from the push to merge UGC and AICTE toward an overhaul of each regulatory body. For example, one proposed measure would be to give UGC the authority to be able to shut down institutions that do not and continue to not meet standards but also consider taking away UGC’s powers over funding and handing it over to the ministry. This proposal is intended to allow the UGC to focus solely on monitoring and ensuring institutions of higher education are adhering to quality standards.

At the request of the ministry, both UGC and AICTE have been asked to prepare a list of changes they need in their respective Acts and regulations to become more effective regulators. Read more here.

In the meantime, the Indian government is considering the approval of a regulator for vocational training. The proposal, if approved, means successful ITI graduates will be awarded certificates at par with the ones given to Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) allowing them thereby to pursue their studies in other schools and colleges. Read more about this here.

Sources:

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/services/education/government-may-soon-approve-regulator-for-vocational-training/printarticle/65278618.cms

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/64416946.cms

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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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