Happy Holidays 2018

December 19th, 2018

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Dear Colleagues,

As 2018 comes to an end, it is important to reflect on the positive gains and learn from the setbacks.  Yes, international student enrollments are down compared to two years ago. And we know there are multiple factors that have contributed to slowed enrollment, including the rising cost of U.S. higher education, student visa delays and denials, and an environment increasingly marked by rhetoric and policies that make life more difficult for international students, immigrants, as well as changing conditions and opportunities in home countries and increasing competition from other countries for students.

I, for one, choose to look at setbacks not as a negative but as ultimately a good thing which reminds me of this Zen proverb: “The obstacle is the path.” Often we’re discouraged because of some tough challenge or obstacle in our way. But a shift in mindset can change everything

The ACEI team follows this credo as well and has worked full steam ahead this year. We went ahead and joint forces with our colleagues at iTEP International and launched The Welcome Project; a service uniquely designed to help vulnerable/displaced individuals classified as refugees. Our credential evaluation service has remained robust and providing assistance to schools, colleges and universities, licensing boards and employers throughout the U.S.  We have also collaborated and formed new partnerships with institutions and examinations bodies in the U.S. and internationally by offering our expertise and guidance through our credential evaluation and professional advisory services.  We continued to attend numerous national and international conferences, spoke as presenters, contributed to publications and newsletters. Through our joint efforts, we have been able to forge ahead and look forward to the future.

For that, at this holiday season, we can give thanks. Thanks to our clients for the confidence they have placed in us and to their applicants for selecting ACEI for their credential evaluation needs. And thanks to our wonderful and dedicated group of senior evaluators, administrators, and support staff who are always willing and eager to put in the necessary extra time and effort to achieve the results our clients and applicants deserve and expect.

On behalf of my partners Alan A. Saidi, Senior Vice-President & COO, Nora Khacheturian, Executive Director of Evaluation & Translation Dept., and all of us here at ACEI, I want you to know that we truly appreciate you. May Peace, Happiness and Prosperity be yours during this Holiday Season and throughout the New Year.

And, remember, the obstacle isn’t something standing in our way. It’s the way itself.

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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US Global market share of international students has been dropping since 2001??

December 14th, 2018

US shares dropping and cc for blog

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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 Tale of 3 Countries and Fake Degree

December 7th, 2018

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There has been a spate of fake degree-related news recently, and though we associate fake degrees mostly with diploma mills, the recent scandals concern legitimate accredited universities. Our focus in this week’s blog is on the sting operation carried out by Israeli law enforcement and its arrest of 40 Israelis holding fake medical and pharmacy degrees from three universities in Armenia and unauthorized distance learning centers set up by a UGC-recognized university in India that awarded degrees not approved by the UGC.

Armenia and Israel: The case of Fake Medical & Pharmacy Degrees

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Early Sunday, December 2nd, Israel police arrested 40 Israeli doctors, medical interns and pharmacists who had presented false credentials to the Health Ministry. These individuals are suspected of having purchased medical and pharmacy degrees from 3 universities in Armenia even though they had never completed studies at the institutions. The 3 universities are St. Tereza Medical University, Haybusak University and Mkhtiar Gosh Armenian-Russian International Universities. Representatives from these Universities are denying any such wrong doings. Israeli police, however, have presented as evidence the diplomas held by these 40 individuals each of which were issued by one of the universities cited. Apparently these individuals had attended institutions abroad to study medicine but did not complete their education, and sought the help of a middleman who referred them to the three Armenian universities mentioned. These individuals had then presented their fake degrees to the Israeli Ministry of Health and passed the accreditation examinations which permitted them to work as doctors or medical interns at hospitals and public institutions in Israel.

Recognizing that this scandal can cast a negative light on the country and its education system, the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia has stepped in and declared it will conduct a full investigation into this situation.

India: The case of Punjab Technical University

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Punjab Technical University (PTU) has been the subject of several controversies this year. First, two of its vice chancellors, Dr. HS Guram and Dr. Rajneesh Arora, were arrested for alleged financial irregularities. Next it found itself under the spotlight for allegedly issuing fake degree. And, then four of its administrators were arrested for helping failed students pass. The fake degree scandal apparently is rooted in PTU’s distance education and examinations branch where between 2010-2012 the University opened more than 2,500 centers throughout India without the approval of the UGC.

The negative publicity and attention brought on by these recent spates of fraud have prompted the PTU to set up a secure portal to assist with the verification of its academic documents. PTU’s electronic verification portal is http://support.ptu.ac.in/

Sources:

North India Times: http://www.northindiatimes.com/canadian-ngo-wes-refuses-to-evaluate-ptu-degrees/

The Print: https://theprint.in/report/rss-man-vice-chancellor-ptu-arrested-fraud/27451/

Times of India: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/PTU-employees-held-for-fraud/articleshow/2860090.cms

ArmInfo: http://arminfo.info/full_news.php?id=26308&lang=3

Panarmenian Network: http://panarmenian.net/eng/news/262984/40_Israeli_medics_arrested_for_buying_diplomas_from_Armenia

HAARETZ: https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-40-israeli-physicians-and-pharmacists-arrested-for-buying-medical-certificates-1.6703483

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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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Grade Inflation at UK Universities – Update

November 30th, 2018

inflation

According to official figures released earlier this year, British universities have been awarding higher-class degrees at an unprecedented rate over the past decade, with at least one university issuing five times as many first-class degrees last year as it did a decade before. In other words, degrees are being “marked up”, meaning students are leaving with a higher grade than a comparable student in previous years.

According to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, more than a quarter of graduates (26%) were awarded a first-class degree in 2017, which was up from 18% in 2012-13.

Examples of Grade Inflation:

At the University of Wolverhampton, in 2006-2007 academic year, 175 students (5% of the total) were awarded first-class degrees. In 2016-2017, 973 students (28% of the total) were awarded first-class degrees.

In contrast, Warwick University’s proportion of first-class degrees rose from 22% in 2006-2007 to 27% a decade later and the proportion of second-class division 1s remained the same at 54%. But at Surrey University the number of first-class degrees rose to 41% of its graduates in 2017. At Oxford it rose to 33% and at Cambridge to 32% in 2017.

What may be the cause of this grade inflation?

Many within higher education point to public attitudes, including employers’ perceptions that first and second-class division 1 degrees are viewed as “good” (or preferred) degrees. They also point at students who want value for the financial investment made in their education and expect a higher degree classification from their universities for the tuition fees paid. Another factor to consider is the competition between universities in attracting and retaining students that is seen as an incentive.

What’s next?

The government has announced that it will penalize universities found to have engaged in grade inflation.

The Teaching Excellent and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) is the body that rates universities annually. TEC uses a number of criterion including student experience and teaching quality for its assessment of universities.

TEF, which is composed of academics, students and higher education experts who assess higher education providers for the government’s university ratings system, will review the percentage of first-class and second-class division 1 degrees by each institution to determine any grade inflation. If assessments are judged excessive, the university could be downgraded. For example, a university with a gold rating, may be downgraded to silver rating.

The government has indicated that it has extended the TEF rating system to also include subject level. This means that individual subject will be rated gold, silver or bronze.
To start, 50 institutions will be measured in a series of pilots, before the plan is formally included to determine university ratings in the summer of 2020.

Sources:

The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/oct/22/uk-universities-face-grade-inflation-crackdown

The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/nov/28/uk-universities-hold-inquiry-into-degree-awards-policies

The Independent https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/university-grade-inflation-uk-first-class-degrees-second-thirds-government-a8594981.html

BBC https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-45935193

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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

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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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