8 Benefits to Virtual Fairs

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA.  ACEI is a full-service company providing complete and integrated services in the areas of international education research, credential evaluation, and translation. ACEI’s Global Consulting Group®, offers expertise in the following specialties: Media and Branding, Global Pathways, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to interested institutions and organizations around the globe. www.acei-global.org

 

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Detecting Fake University Degrees in a Digital World

In 2019, the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE) hosted its annual symposium discussing the digital retention and transmission of academic documents.  An issue that was of great concern then and continues to be today is how do we maintain credential evaluation standards in a world that is rapidly digitizing? How do we ensure credential integrity? How do we detect fraudulent documents in an age where digital technology is used by hackers and forgers with tech expertise to falsify and issue counterfeit documents, tap into university databases, create degrees and diplomas that appear flawless and authentic?

The title of the 2019 AICE Los Angeles Symposium was “The future is digital…are you? Effectively using technology while maintaining credential evaluation standards” which is timely today given the rapid adoption of digital platforms to offer online courses and transmitting official transcripts during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The goal of the symposium was to seek digital solutions that promote data security and protection as we move toward a paper-free environment.

This week’s blog is a re-posting of one we had shared in 2019, an informative and insightful piece written by our European colleagues Stig Arne SkjervenDirector of Foreign Education in NOKUT and President of the ENIC Bureau in the European Network of Information Centers, a frequent contributor to ACE-Global.Blog, and Linda J Børresen, Senior Legal Advisor in NOKUT (Norwegian ENIC-NARIC). The authors demonstrate steps being taken in Europe to combat fake diplomas in today’s digital world. This article appeared in the September 2018 issue of University World News and is shared in this blog with permission from Mr. Skjerven and Ms. Børresen.

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), will be hosting a free webinar on June 10, 2020 on fake online courses and diploma mills. To register, please click here.

We invite you to share your thoughts, experience, and questions in the comments section. Thank you.


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

 

By Stig Arne Skjerven and Linda J. Børresen

Using fake diplomas in order to get ahead is not a new phenomenon. As long as there is competition for jobs and admission to higher education, there will be people who are willing to take such shortcuts.

Articles in University World News often report new cases, the most recent on fake Scottish degrees. Over the summer in the United Kingdom, there was an article published in The Guardian in which the UK’s official service for verifying degrees, the Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD), urged new graduates who take selfies with their new degrees not to share the images on social media to avoid fueling the multimillion-pound trade in fake degrees.

 What are fake diplomas?

Generally speaking, there are three categories of fake diplomas. The first category is typically a diploma that seems to be issued by an accredited institution, but the diploma is in fact produced illegally. The person who bought the document has never studied at the institution in question.

The second category comprises diplomas that are issued by accredited institutions, but the holder of the diploma has altered the information in the document, most commonly the grades.

The third and last category includes fake diplomas issued by diploma mills (fake universities). Diploma mills grant ‘degrees’ to people who pay for this service, but do not offer any educational training.

Fake diplomas can finance serious crime

The consequences of using fake diplomas are dire, ranging from wrongful job hires to illicit access to regulated professions. The latter can pose a danger to people and society, most obviously in the health, engineering and financial professions.

Just as worryingly, the income from sales of fake diplomas often finances serious crime. The court case in Norway following the terrorist attack on 22 July 2011 is a clear illustration. During the trial, the defendant admitted that he partly financed his terror operation by selling fake diplomas through the establishment of an internet site called Diplomaservice.com. Its revenue was nearly US$500,000, which was laundered in Antigua and subsequently used to finance his illicit activities.

How can we deal with fake diplomas?

In Norway, NOKUT is the Norwegian ENIC-NARIC center whose task it is to recognize foreign higher education qualifications in accordance with the Lisbon Recognition Convention. In order to combat the problem with fake diplomas, NOKUT has developed several tools, such as rigid documentation requirements and thorough quality assurance.

Verification is crucial and all diplomas are verified from certain countries, either by the issuing higher education institutions or by the ministry of education in that particular country. Equally important, NOKUT’s experienced credential evaluators are fluent in many languages and possess unique knowledge about various educational systems, enabling them to track logical inconsistencies in the applicants’ educational backgrounds.

Since 2003, 120 people have been reported to the police for using fake diplomas. This comes in addition to the number of cases that are reported by Norwegian higher education institutions and other competent authorities. NOKUT, as the ENIC-NARIC center, cooperates well with Norwegian law enforcement. Many of the reported cases have resulted in convictions, normally two to three weeks of unconditional imprisonment.

Most of these convictions are for regular falsified diplomas, but convictions for using documents from diploma mills are increasing.

The Council of Europe’s ETINED Platform

The ETINED Platform is a network of specialists appointed by member states of the Council of Europe and states party to the European Cultural Convention (50 states). The purpose of ETINED is to build a culture of ethics, transparency and integrity in and through education.

One aspect of this is combating fraud and corruption, including fraudulent qualifications. In this part of the project, cooperation between the ENIC and NARIC networks, the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education(EQAR) have been established.

Suggestions for changes to the subsidiary text to the Lisbon Recognition Convention are being considered. An example is the establishment of a database with a list of criteria that students should look for when checking qualifications proposed by an institution.

FRAUDOC – An Erasmus+ project

All over Europe, significant efforts have been made to detect fraudulent documents. Recently, an Erasmus+ funded project, FRAUDOC, led by the Italian ENIC-NARIC CIMEA, launched guidelines on diploma mills and documents fraud for credential evaluators. The guidelines give an overview of the phenomenon, but they also provide tools and recommendations on how fraudulent documents can be detected.

The same group has also launched a handbook for credential evaluators with information about verification databases and other suggestions that should help credential evaluators in their daily work.

The future is digital

Routines developed by ENIC-NARIC centers are helpful for combating the use of fake documents. However, even in the world of recognition and credential evaluation it is true that the future is digital – soon, most diplomas will be digitally accessible in secure systems which will guarantee documents’ authenticity.

Norway has digitalized all diplomas that have been issued by Norwegian institutions, with a few exceptions, in an online portal called Vitnemålsportalen. Graduates can provide secure and time-limited access to their data to an employer through an electronic link. This procedure ensures the authenticity of the documents and is a safe and cost-effective way for an employer to verify someone’s credentials.

Other systems, at varying stages of development, are in operation in AustraliaBelgium (Flanders), ChinaEstoniaFranceIndiaMexicothe NetherlandsNew ZealandRomania, the Russian FederationSouth Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The network of EMREX aims to further connect and enhance student data portability and provide student data globally. EMREX empowers individuals to manage their student data and to transfer credentials securely to employers, institutions and more.

Fake diplomas will continue to pose a threat to higher education institutions, employers and recognition authorities in the years to come. However, recent initiatives involving digital diplomas in secure databases may be one of the most promising ways to combat false diplomas in the future.

Stig Arne Skjerven is the Director of Foreign Education in NOKUT and President of the ENIC Bureau in the European Network of Information Centres.

Linda J Børresen is Senior Legal Advisor in NOKUT (Norwegian ENIC-NARIC). 

 

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA.  ACEI is a full-service company providing complete and integrated services in the areas of international education research, credential evaluation, and translation. ACEI’s Global Consulting Group®, offers expertise in the following specialties: Media and Branding, Global Pathways, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to interested institutions and organizations around the globe. www.acei-global.org

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A Quick Look at: Online Learning, Virtual Learning, E-Learning, Distance Learning, Blended Learning

Contributed by: ConexEd

As the COVID-19 global pandemic has forced schools, colleges and universities around the world to offer alternative methods to their traditional in-class instruction, we thought it would be helpful to share this informative piece that was created and posted by ConexEd.

 What is Online Learning?

  • Online learning always involves an internet connection and can include virtual face-to-face interactions (webinar, online lecture, virtual meeting)
  • Uses online tools for learning, such as online curriculum or virtual space or conferencing software.
  • Could be considered a mix of virtual learning and blended learning.

What is Virtual Learning?

  • Can be used inside or outside the physical building of the educational organization.
  • Uses the computer and an online program or software to enhance the learning experience.
  • Can be used in a self-pacing format (individualized) or live web conferencing between students and instructors.
  • Students have remote access to content and instructors.
  • Student can connect and interact with other students and their instructors online.

What is E-Learning?

  • E-Learning utilizes digital tools for teaching and learning, and the technology facilitates the learning process.
  • Can be used online or in a classroom setting.
  • Students take a course from a teacher but only interact with the teacher online.
  • Students have unlimited access to the content.
  • The course completion, program, or degree is distributed online.

What is Distance Learning?

  • Same structure as online learning.
  • Specific purpose is to attract students from all locations.
  • Can provide instruction to someone learning in a different time and place than that of the teacher and other students.

What is Blended Learning?

  • Blended learning is the combination of classroom and virtual learning.
  • Ideally integrates virtual learning in a way that individualizes and enhances instruction for students.

When planning online resources and incorporating learning online in the classroom, the objectives for content learning, the intended student outcomes, student needs, and student access to technology and their current digital literacy should be taken into consideration, at which point instructors can determine which approach fits their goals best.

Links:

ConexEd: https://www.conexed.com/are-online-learning-virtual-learning-e-learning-distance-learning-and-blended-learning-the-same/

Applied Educational Systems: Online Learning vs Distance Learning https://www.aeseducation.com/blog/online-learning-vs-distance-learning

 

Kickboard: What is Distance or Remote Learning:  https://www.kickboardforschools.com/blog/post/distance-remote-learning/what-is-distance-or-remote-learning/

 

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA.  ACEI is a full-service company providing complete and integrated services in the areas of international education research, credential evaluation, and translation. ACEI’s Global Consulting Group®, offers expertise in the following specialties: Media and Branding, Global Pathways, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to interested institutions and organizations around the globe. www.acei-global.org

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Dispatches from Mar Vista, Los Angeles, CA during COVID-19 Lockdown

Witten by: Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

By the time this blog is posted, it will be day 44 since Los Angeles county issued its shelter in place order. The skies have never been clearer and traffic on the infamous 405 Freeway is almost nonexistent. The air is sweet, yes, I never expected to use the word “sweet” in connection with Los Angeles air quality. The city seems calm, and like the rest of the world our planet is taking a deep breath as we shelter in place.

On March 19th, as soon as our city’s mayor made the shelter in place announcement, I instructed my team at the ACEI headquarters to pack up their essentials as we would be working remotely from home.  We weren’t caught off guard or surprised by this news.  A month prior to the lock-down order, our COO had ordered laptops for all our in-house team in preparation and anticipation of just this scenario. The next day, like clockwork, we were all online and in communication with our international applicants and institutional clients. Applications for evaluation were being processed via our online portal and academic documents were being received digitally from institutions and recognized platforms. Twice a week, I visit the office with one other member of our team, mindful of keeping our socially recommended distance of 6 feet, which is easy to do in our spacious loft workspace.

The ACEI team is working harder than ever, responding to queries from our applicants from around the world via our online chat, emails and phone. We hold daily video chats as our end of day wrap-up. We try to keep the humor in our uncertain world by playing around with the background imagery of our video chat platform.  Our COO prefers a lush landscape of rolling hills, while the rest of our crew including myself, seem to be partial to space inspired motifs, which is something new for me as I’m not a SciFi fan. But it seems that images of futuristic cities and galaxies far far away are befitting of the current surreal state of our world.

As soon as the world and us went into collective lockdown, we knew that we were going to experience all levels of emotions, from anxiety, to panic, fear, anger, frustration, euphoria, exhaustion, malaise, serenity, denial, and back to panic and uncertainty. Immediately, we decided to start hosting a free weekly webcast we named “Mindful Minutes with ACEI.” We set these webcasts as a safe virtual place for our coworkers, colleagues, friends and family to join to share their stories, how they were coping and what they were feeling. We invited guest speakers who offered insights and techniques we could practice in our daily lives to return to a place of inner peace, no matter how fleeting.

My first week of working at home, something I hadn’t done since I founded ACEI in 1994 from my one-bedroom apartment, was challenging as I was having a difficult time situating myself in a place I could call my home office.  Finally, I joined my husband, also working from home, and equally divided the dining table as his and hers offices. We have been very mindful of our invisible boundaries and have had zero border skirmishes.  It is strange though how life can do a 360 and I find myself in a similar situation as the day I started ACEI, that is; working from home, though now I have a team of loyal and dedicated employees whom I’m responsible for and who look to me for guidance, moral support and hope.

I do keep my daily routine. I wake up early as before, shower, get dressed, meditate, have breakfast and step into my “office” formerly the dining room, and start the “work” day. I go for long walks in the afternoons after I step away from my “office,” and take a 20-minute nap. The daily mini naps have been a godsend.

I mentioned this earlier, and it needs to be said again, that exhaustion seems to be the common denominator amongst everyone I speak with and those who attend our webcasts and the comments I see on social media. We are being pushed to self-reflect and one thing that is becoming clear is that the uncertainty we feel today has always been with us, except now we have the time to truly understand its full meaning. Call it an existential crisis, which it is. We are each experiencing an existential crisis and we are experiencing it together and at different intervals and levels. We are grasping for answers and looking hard into the future attempting to make predictions, if not guesses as to what to expect once we emerge from our extended lockdowns. A friend likened this to the cocoon from which a butterfly will finally emerge.

I’m also hearing from many who are being hard on themselves for not maximizing their time in quarantine by being more productive, like cleaning out the garage, their closets, painting and doing home renovations (something my husband, bless his heart, has volunteered himself to do each weekend), learning a language or musical instrument or starting a new side job. I was reminded of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs by a friend’s comment on Facebook recently which is worth revisiting, especially now during a global pandemic. Humans, as we know, have basic needs which appear on the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid and these are food, water, shelter, sleep, etc. If these needs are met, then the next level on the pyramid is safety and security. If we feel safe and secure in our current environment, then we can move up the pyramid and embrace love and a sense of belonging which then takes us to the next level on the pyramid at the very top, which is is self-actualization.

In the midst of a pandemic, we cannot expect to ascend the pyramid and self-actualize when we are mainly dwelling in the basement of Maslow’s pyramid. People are still searching for toilet paper, for goodness sake! At this moment in time we need to take a deep breath and know that every day we are here counts. Every breath we take counts. Are we eating, drinking water, getting a few hours of sleep? These are major triumphs. An exercise my husband and I practice at the end of the day is we ask each other: “So what where your wins today?” I always start by saying that I woke up feeling healthy. I consider this a big win. We need to ease up on ourselves and be extra gentle and abundantly gracious with ourselves. We will get through this, somehow or another. And right now, getting through is absolutely okay.

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

 

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA.  ACEI is a full-service company providing complete and integrated services in-house in the areas of international education research, credential evaluation, and translation. ACEI’s Global Consulting Group®, offers expertise in the following specialties: Media and Branding, Global Pathways, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to interested institutions and organizations around the globe. www.acei-global.org

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AXACT, Karachi, Pakistan- ‘World’s Largest Diploma Mill’ [Now the ‘Crest Tower DHA-Criminal Enterprise’].

ACEI: In this week’s blog post, our guest contributor, Allen Ezell, offers an update on Axact, the fake diploma company, which The New York Times exposed in May 2015. Unfortunately, as Allen demonstrates, Axact is back in business and morphed into a number of new companies. Caveat Emptor!

Written by: Allen Ezell 

Axact (Private) Ltd., Karachi, Pakistan, ceased existing in about January 2020. The Axact main office building is now the Crest Tower DHA (Defense Housing Authority) [Pakistan Army]. This is cosmetic only!!  While ‘Axact’ was changing its name on the front of their building (cosmetic only), their employees inside never left their desks nor stopped selling fake degrees. As its employees sit in their cubes selling diplomas on both old and new fake schools, along with other scams, the name of their employer was being changed on their building ID cards. The game always remains the same! The old ‘Axact’ is now 7-10 new companies, with about two companies ‘call centers’ operating on each floor.

‘Axact’ is typical of fraudsters—it changes its colors (game) to blend in with its surroundings.  The same is true today in the era of corona virus, social distances, and bans on groups of people congregating together. ‘Axact’ has increased its ‘Online Education’ business to accommodate the millions of students, who because of the pandemic, can no longer attend their traditional brick and mortar schools, now turn to the Internet. The students are looking for accredited online courses they can take back to their schools when this crisis is over—instead, they  encounter ‘Axact’!!

Just to give you an idea of the numbers Axact is dealing with, here’s a quick snapshot:

  • 5,000 student inquiries per month with about 40% ‘enrollment.”
  • Monthly gross revenue is close to $2,000,000.
  • As a sales incentive, a $10,000 bonus is being offered when there has been $1,000,000 in sales for a single school.

‘Axact’ has about 900 employees at their Karachi and Islamabad call centers working mainly on their ‘fake classes’ scheme. They advertise via pop ups and banners in social media including  facebook. They lure their victims through ‘spider web’ type sites by type of profession, or field of interest, such as www.gulfonlineeducation.comwww.onlineengineeringguide.com,  and  www.onlinedegreeprofs.com.

Responding to these sites will probably lead the caller to the Karachi call centers and the school of their dreams which can provide the needed online classes. But it’s all smoke and mirrors! These persons impersonating university officials sell transcripts for the non-existent classes at $4,000+ each, then later offer the buyer ‘legalization’ at additional costs. It is a merry-go-round which continues until your pockets are empty!

In addition, ‘Axact” employees are also involved in other traditional telephone  scams such as lower mortgage loan interest rate, home improvements, home security and anything else which will generate revenue for the boss, Shoaib Ahmed Sheikh, his CFO Adeel Arshad, and their newest manager in charge of all daily operations, Akash Ramchandani. With all the publicity Axact has received over the past five years, Sheikh, now a convicted felon, although wealthy, is probably an outcast in much of their society. So what has he really gained?

Apparently, the ‘rule of law’ does not exist in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan! I have notified Dr. Asad Majeed Khan, the Pakistan Ambassador to the United States of America, Washington, D.C., in detail about ‘Axact.” I even told him the number of fake degrees sold to Pakistan citizens, and to the residents of the District of Columbia, and the nearby States of Virginia and Maryland, but to no avail. Again, Caveat Emptor!!

I will be co-presenting a webinar on “How to Detect Fake Online Programs and Schools” with ACEI’s President, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, on June 10th.  Save the date and contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org , for information on registering for the webinar.

Be aware and be careful.

    Allen Ezell, FBI Agent (Retired), Education Consultant – Allen Ezell founded and was the head of the FBI’s DipScam diploma-mill task force. He is also the author of Counterfeit Diplomas and Transcripts and Accreditation Mills.


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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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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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Lessons on Kindness

April 10th, 2020

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I sometimes help out at a senior living facility, a 1 ½ hour’s drive from my home. But that was months ago before I started on several new projects. Then came COVID. When the virus reached Maine and I was forced to put all of those projects on hold, initially I didn’t panic. I was tired and honestly, afraid to travel even though I was very much looking forward to both conferences, Diversity Abroad and AACRAO, on my schedule. Instead, I took a little trip to visit my sister who lives an hour south of me. Since I was going to be so close, I thought I would visit the seniors. At the coffee shop on the way down, which was still open at this point, something inside me said, “you should probably call and see if they are letting non-family members visit.”

I did. They weren’t.

That same week the Global Consulting Services (GCS) arm of ACEI, of which I am a part, had a Zoom meeting scheduled. On that call we decided that, instead of continuing to work on webinars and promotional videos, we would just host a check-in webinar. Each of us would take a few minutes to speak about how we were coping with our lives in the time of COVID. We invited a guest speaker, Abby Wills, to talk about coping mechanisms and lead us in a mindfulness exercise. After that the floor would be opened to any of the participants to speak, ask questions, etc.

One of the many ways of dealing with a crisis, as Abby so deftly explained, was not to avoid it but to be aware of it and then practice any of the methods on how to do so, in order to get through it. And most important, to be kind to ourselves. She said this a few times and even again in the following week’s webinar.

Be kind to ourselves. What does that mean in this situation? Images of SNL’s Stuart Smalley’s daily affirmations came to mind even though I know that’s not what she meant.

My interpretation is that we need to allow ourselves whatever feelings come our way. We need to maybe, for once, stop planning and recognize that the world as we know it, has forever changed and to accept how we are in that realization.

Americans in the United States pride themselves on how much they get done. Some do so while bragging about how little sleep they do it on. Some years ago, I heard a nurse boast about how she’d only been getting 3 hours of sleep a night. A nurse! If anyone should know the benefits of sleep, she should. My first reaction was to find out where she worked and make sure I was never her patient and my second was to pray for her patients. As a lifelong insomniac who did a whole lot on very little sleep, I would never brag about it. It was not a choice for me. And it shouldn’t be for most people.

So why do we feel we always need to be doing something?

A week after I called the senior facility, I was called by them to come in to work. Sadly, their families were no longer allowed to visit and activities had to be canceled so they needed activities people to come and visit the residents. I was thrilled because I missed people, I missed them and I missed having something to do. Then last week I was sent home because I had symptoms of a cold. I could not return until a doctor cleared me.

The first day or so it was easy to rest but after that I felt as though I should catch up on email, finish projects I’d started, or at least check Facebook. So, I did those things but then I woke up the following day again feeling sick. The next day I just wanted to read even though I was feeling somewhat better. So I did, but guiltily. The following day I read guilt-free but only because the book was so good that I couldn’t put it down. But then I finished the book. Again, my brain said, – do something. You can’t sit around reading all day, lazy bones. Check email or at least read non-fiction. It hit me though that I was home because I was still sick and suddenly Abby’s coaxing to be kind to myself registered. Maybe being kind to ourselves means forgetting everything we were ever told by our bosses about the way to the top, or by every magazine from over-achievers like Oprah and Martha Stewart. Maybe it means watching more videos of Italians performing arias on their balconies. Why are they doing this instead of painting their kitchens? Maybe they are painting their kitchens, but we know they were also taught the value of spending more time with their families than at work, and that enjoying music and the arts is a part of being successful. What’s the point of being successful if you have no life to enjoy? Maybe this is what being kind to ourselves is. Maybe this is what we’ll realize will never be the same after COVID. Maybe we’ll learn how little control we truly have and recognize how fun it is to connect with old friends, write an old fashioned paper letter, or play board games with the family.

With this in mind I pulled out a box of unpacked books and piled several choices of fiction next to my couch. I opened the one on top and carted myself back to 1984.

To watch/listen to ACEI’s Mindful Minutes, click here and use the password provided:

Mindful Minutes, Session 1   password: 6Pcfj4t2

Mindful Minutes, Session 2  password: pYeujfc9


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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.

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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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Music for Troubled Times

April 3rd, 2020

We’re pleased to have Tom Schnabel, the legendary music consultant and former Music Director for KCRW, share two articles he has recently written for his Rhythm Planet blog with us here this week.

Tom’s extensive knowledge of music from many genres, and his expertise in curating music by artists outside the mainstream of pop culture have always helped those of us in Los Angeles and beyond  to enjoy the good and endure the difficult times. He has compiled a series of playlists in the two blogs we are sharing with you to try to soothe your nerves as well as to inject a small dose of humor into the mix


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We’re living in strange and uncertain times. I’ve compiled two playlists this week to try to soothe your nerves as well as to inject a small dose of humor into the mix.

First, a 4+ hour-long playlist of calming, meditative, and beautiful music to listen to while working from home or just relaxing. Music can offer a spiritual balm and help to assuage our worries. I am very happy with this playlist, for which I’ve mined songs that I often featured on air throughout the decades of my career.

The second (and shorter) Optimist Playlist focuses on being positive in times like ours. I’ve selected some reassuring and fun songs by Chet Baker, Mose Allison, Slim Gaillard, and more.

I sincerely hope you enjoy these playlists, whichever one you might be in the mood for. Stay safe and healthy, everyone.


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Tom Schnabel is an internationally recognized radio producer, pioneer, and innovator in world music. He helped introduce world music to American audiences as KCRW’s first music director and host of Morning Becomes Eclectic (1979-1991). Tom is the author of two books (Stolen Moments: Conversations with Contemporary Musicians and Rhythm Planet: The Great World Music Makers), and numerous articles about music. He has produced a number of recordings (Trance Planet, vols. 1–5), and provides music supervision for advertising and movies. He has also served as Program Advisor for the Hollywood Bowl and Walt Disney Concert Hall, and continues to host weekly music shows for KCRW online.  His KCRW Rhythm Planet blog is approaching 500 entries covering all aspects of music.  http://blogs.kcrw.com/rhythmplanet/ In 1998 Tom was honored by the French government with the French Medal of Arts, Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Des Lettres.  www.tomschnabel.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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Mindful Minutes with ACEI – Safe Space, Virtual Place

March 27th, 2020

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Recognizing the collective anxiety and the stress induced by the uncertainty the current global pandemic has brought on, ACEI has set out to host a weekly or bi-weekly webchat for co-workers, colleagues, and friends. We will offer these webchats until no longer needed. On Wednesday, March 25, 2019, we hosted our first “Mindful Minutes with ACEI – Safe Space, Virtual Place.”

Creating a platform where we can engage, share our personal experiences and discuss how we can help one another is the impetus behind ACEI’s Mindful Minutes. We are not discussing credential evaluation issues or how to recruit students or emerging markets in international education. We are dealing with real-time, real life issues and providing ourselves the space to talk about how we’re coping and what we’re doing to make these turbulent times manageable through mindful exercises.

Our entire team at ACEI has quickly transitioned to working online and remotely since last Thursday. We continue to assure our applicants and institutional clients of our availability to service their needs and answer their questions. We realize that this is the current paradigm for many who are not classified as essential workers. Creating our home offices and making spaces that allow us to continue doing our work as seamlessly as possible while remaining alert and vigilante to the ongoing news updates can be daunting to say the least.  Adjusting to this new routine, especially for parents of young children who now require home schooling is bringing on new levels of stress that if unchecked can affect our overall wellness.

The response to our first Mindful Minutes webinar has been overwhelmingly positive. Our next Mindful Minutes with ACEI will be on Wednesday, April 1st. You can register here.

We recorded our webchat of March 25th and including the link

Recording password: 6Pcfj4t2

We encourage any questions or further discussion, please feel free to contact our presenters by email: acei@acei-global.org.

We would like to leave you with a message from the author Elizabeth Gilbert which was shared in the March 25th webinar called “Facing Fear With Compassion:”

Facing Fear With Compassion

From Elizabeth Gilbert, Author

Human beings are incredibly resourceful, creative and resilient both as individuals and as a species. We have survived unbelievable hardships.

If you’re looking for courage in the face of catastrophe, try to remember this:

Every single one of us is the direct genetic descendant of ancestors who survived unthinkable hardships. That is where we come from – survivors – that’s what we’re made of, thousands and thousands of generations of people before us who survived. If they didn’t exist and survive, we wouldn’t be here.

Resilience is our birthright and survival is our shared history.

If you are afraid for yourself, others, future of humanity, take a moment and remember our ancestors and recall what they faced and what they went through.

As Winston Churchill said, we have not journeyed across the centuries, across the oceans, across mountains, across the prairies because we are made of sugar candy. Resilience is our shared inheritance. Resourcefulness is the very hallmark of our species.

We are creative, we are adaptive, and history has shown that humanity sometimes always finds a way, even when it appears that there is no way.

We are strong. You have probably survived a great deal in life, emotionally, physically, financially. You have gotten this far. You may have resources that have helped you get this far and you may not even be aware you have them.

If you’ve had a spiritual practice, or something similar, this is what you’ve been preparing for. Spiritual practices are exercises to prepare us for these exact times, when things are difficult and incomprehensible. You’re stronger than you know.

As one soldier may tell another soldier before going into battle, “remember your training, buddy!” This is what we came here for and this is what we’ve been practicing for, and this is when it counts.

Listen to the voice inside, and remember these words of infinite kindness that love is within us:

I’m right here

I’ve got you

I love you

and, I’m not going anywhere.

If you wish to receive alerts of our future Mindful Minutes webchats, please send us an email at acei@acei-global.org and include “Mindful Minutes News” in the subject line.

Be well and stay safe.


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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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Covid-19 Update

March 17th, 2020

“For a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other.”

– Millard Fuller

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We care deeply about our community – locally & abroad. Indeed, community is a major focus of our service. We are committed to providing exceptional service to our applicants and clients. Our dedicated team of credential evaluators, administrators, IT, and support staff will be working remotely for the coming days as we weather this global crisis. All our services are available and accessible on-line.

So as to not compromise the health and well-being of our staff, we will not be using US post or any courier services for the receipt of application or delivery of the completed evaluation reports. All reports will be delivered by electronic mail or via ACEI’s Secure Pathway. If your institution or organization does not have an ACEI SecurePathway account, please complete and return the form in this link and one will be set up for you immediately.

We will be keeping you abreast of news updates that impact the national and international education community through our Facebook page, LinkedIn, Twitter, our weekly Blog and our monthly newsletter The Report.

We deeply appreciate all of your understanding and support through this trying time. Be well and stay safe.

Many,  Many Blessings,

 


ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

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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