June 22nd, 2018
In our previous blog, we wrote about the benefits of outsourcing international credential evaluations. In this week’s blog, we’d like to share with you the criteria you need to consider if your institution is looking to outsource its international credential evaluations.
With the need for increasing content and authenticity in the evaluation process comes the need for more education, training and experience on the part of the credential evaluator. Institutions seeking to outsource their international credential evaluations are advised to select one service or multiple services by requesting the following:
Is the credential evaluation agency an Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE)?
The Association of International Credential Evaluators is a non-profit professional association with unique set of criteria which employs a rigorous screening process in determining the eligibility of providers of international credential evaluation services to Endorsed membership. The AICE has published evaluation standards to which its members subscribe and conform to promote consistency and transparency in educational equivalency reporting.
2. Years of Operation
Does the credential evaluation agency have a proven record of experience in the field?
Find out when the agency was established and how long it has been in operation. Number of years of operation as a credential evaluation service provider demonstrates longevity and continuity in a field where fluctuations in the market due to economic and political events affects the solvency of a company and its ability to work with credentials from around the world.
What evaluation standards and procedures does the credential evaluation agency employ in evaluating and determining U.S. educational equivalences?
It is important to find out the standards the evaluation agency uses in evaluating credentials to derive at U.S. educational equivalences. Does your institution have any guidelines in place when assessing international credentials? Are the standards used by the evaluation agency in line with your institution’s? If your institution doesn’t have any particular standards on evaluating international credentials, we recommend you refer to the AICE Evaluation Standards for guidelines.
Request and review a profile of the evaluation agency’s executive and evaluation staff.
This information will help you assess the expertise and experience of the agency’s evaluation staff. It will also help you outline the methods the agency employs for its evaluators to receive continuous professional development.
What types of evaluation reports are provided by the credential evaluation agency?
It is important to determine the different types of evaluation reports the credential evaluation service provides to see if they are able to accommodate your institution’s needs.
6. Required Documents
What criteria does the evaluation company have in place in accepting academic documents?
It’s important to find out whether the evaluation company accepts official transcripts directly from the source institution, or original (“first-issued”) documents in the student’s possessions, photocopies or scanned documents submitted by students, or transcripts received electronically from the source institution.
7. Processing Time
How long does it take for the evaluation agency to complete an evaluation?
The number of days an evaluation agency requires to complete an evaluation plays a significant part in the overall picture when a student’s application for admission is contingent on the evaluation report. You must determine the actual number of days it takes an agency to complete the evaluation and not the estimated time. For example, an agency may claim a 10-day processing time but in practice it takes 20 or 30 or more days to complete its evaluation reports.
8. Library/Information Resources
What steps does the evaluation agency take in maintaining a dynamic in-house library?
A credential evaluation agency and the evaluation reports it generates are as good as its reference library. Maintaining an in-house library is one of the most important criteria in qualifying for Endorsed Membership with the Association of International Credential Evaluators. An in-house library that has in its collection historic and current publications and reference materials is the backbone of a full-service reputable evaluation agency.
9. Website & Information
Does the evaluation company have a website that is user-friendly and informative?
A website serves as the portal to a company’s operation and services. An effective website must include information that is clear and transparent about its services, fees and procedures.
10. Customer/Client Relations
How helpful and knowledgeable is the evaluation company’s staff?
And, last but not least, building a relationship with an evaluation company where you are confident that your institution’s needs and those of your international students are not ignored but handled in a timely and professional matter is essential. It is good to call the evaluation company and see if you are greeted by a friendly representative able and willing to answer your questions. If you emailed the company, how soon was your email answered?
In closing, by selecting a reputable evaluation service with proven years of experience, you are ensured the most up-to-date evaluation standards and practices. Indirectly, outsourcing also gives you access to the evaluation service’s resources: its library, database, knowledge and experience, online tools, and training. Finally, building a relationship with a credential evaluation agency creates an understanding between the parties that allows the agency to incorporate any special institutional needs into the evaluation. An on-going relationship with an evaluation service leads to consistency in the placement of students over time and across educational systems. It also provides the institution with an expert resource to consult when questions arise about credentials and placement.