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QS World University Rankings 2020

June 28th, 2019

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According to the recently released 16th edition of the QS World University Rankings, the United States’ higher education system has recorded its worst performance in 16 years and is accelerating in its rate of decline. This is n unprecedented level of decline experiences by the U.S. higher education sector.

1000 universities from 82 different locations were ranked by QS. 94,000 academics and 44,000 hiring managers were surveyed. 11.8 million research papers and 100 million citations were analyzed.  QS measures universities on the basis of their academic standing, graduate employability, student/faculty ration, research impact, and internationalization.

Below is a summary of the QS World University Rankings 2020:

  • US holds 10 spots in the top 20.
  • In the U.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is the world’s best university for the eighth consecutive year followed by Stanford and Harvard.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • 6% of the US’s 157 ranked universities deteriorate in rank. The US has also recorded its lowest number of top-100 universities (29) since 2016, and four fewer than last year (33).
  • 24 of Australia’s 35 universities have risen in rankings demonstrating improvement in their performance.
  • China shows a rise from 12 to 19 in 2016 with its top-200 research universities.
  • For the first time, the Middle East has entered the top-200 with 2 universities.
  • King Abdul Aziz University of Saudi Arabia is now in 186th

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King Abdul Aziz University

  • Out of 302 universities from destination countries such as Australia, Canada, UK, and US, 216 have recorded worse faculty/student Ratio.
  • The US showed losses in the criteria concerning academic reputation and international students and faculty ratio.
  • What is the cause of the decline? Government support of higher education. China’s growth is a result of national funding strategy, while in the US the Trump Administration has sought to reduce deferral funding and this year has proposed $7.1 billion in cuts.
  • UK is ranked as the “third worst” and 66% of its institutions have slipped in rankings.
  • Europe’s second-best university is ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, achieving its highest position ever, overtaking the University of Cambridge

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ETH Zurich, Switzerland

  • University of Cambridge has dropped to 7th position.
  • University of Oxford took fourth place from Caltech, US.
  • University of Edinburgh gained two places from 20th to 18th.
  • Australia’s rise in the rankings is attributed to: improvements in academic reputation, citations per faculty, and international student ratio.
  • Falling rates in faculty/student ratio indicator were the primary driver for Canada’s declining performance.
  • Latin America showed twice as many improvements than drops in ranking a sign of increasing competitiveness.
  • In Latin America, Brazil has the most number of universities represented but Argentina’s Universidad de Buenas Aires ranks the highest.
  • Another country climbing the rankings is Russia with 60% of its universities improving their position and 70% Russia is also climbing the rankings with 60% of its universities showing improvement in their rankings and performance on the international student ratio indicator.
  • Asia’s top two universities are the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University also in Singapore (both ranked 11th).

Watch this video for a report on the latest QS rankings of the Top 10 universities:

Sources:

QS World University Rankings https://www.topuniversities.com/

PIENews https://thepienews.com/news/qs-world-rankings-unis-2020/


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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 Global Educator Program: Engage with key influencers to leverage your international recruitment

March 15th, 2019

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In this week’s blog, we would like to showcase Branta, an international student recruitment, study abroad organization based in Seattle, WA. We recently learned about Branta’s Global Education Program which aims to build relationships between teachers and school administrators in India with administrators at U.S. institutions of higher education.

According to Syed K. Jamal, Branta’s Founder & CEO, “In India’s collective culture, both resident and the diaspora community, lived-experience and face-to-face meetings have a profound effect. They break boundaries and build bonds. To leverage the cultural aspect, and in order to equip principals/counselors from India and the UAE with international networks, we launched the Global Educator Program in 2018. At its core, it’s a professional development outreach both for international educators as well as for American campuses acting as hosting institutions. We are delighted to launch the 2019 version of the program which provides full funding to international educators.”

As one US educator noted in this video, it’s not about just sitting and having a quick conversation and exchanging brochures with students but building relationships with educators and administrators from the students’ countries.  The desire by the K-12 schools in India and wanting to collaborate directly with U.S. institutions with relation to teaching and partnership, and ways to enhance understanding of what it means to pursue an education in the U.S. is significant. For U.S. educators, the benefits include gaining a better and deeper insight of the Indian education system at a younger level and what it means to start talking about the practicalities of a global education at a higher level. Bringing these two groups together under one roof and sharing ideas, learning from each other, developing partnerships and forging long-term relationships are the takeaways of participation in The Global Educator Program.

Those US institutions who wish to enable this exchange, host the group on their camps and benefit from it are welcome to write to syed@gobranta.com for more details.

And, please share this with those in your networks in India and UAE.


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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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Why is Canada the favored destination for International Students?

January 18th, 2019

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Right before the end of 2018, Forbes posted an article on how successful Canada has been in attracting international students to its institutions while the United States, United Kingdom and Australia are experiencing the opposite. The US has been keeping its #1 spot for a few decades as the preferred destination for international students, followed by the UK, Australia, and Canada but it is losing its hold on this title, as is the UK. We have decided to look at these four countries and highlight what has caused the uptick for Canada while the others are seeing the numbers plateauing.

Spotlight: U.S.A.

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The 2018 Open Doors Report cited the political climate in the U.S. as one of the major factors contributing to the ongoing declining enrollment of international students. Out of 540 institutions surveyed for the report, 60 percent cited the present political and social climate as one of the major reasons for the slump.

  • Security and safety are an issue
  • High cost of living and tuition
  • New strict visa rule make is very difficult for securing student visas and work permits after graduation

Spotlight: United Kingdom

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UK has enjoyed holding the #2 spot after the US, but it has seen a decline in international student number due to the following:

  • Tougher Immigration policies
  • Brexit caused an immediate decline in EU students attending UK institutions
  • High cost of living
  • High tuition fees

Spotlight: Australia

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Australia is heavily reliant on China for its international students and is becoming less popular for the Chinese because of the following:

  • Security and safety concerns
  • Tougher immigration policies
  • High tuition fees
  • Difficult in securing student visas

Spotlight: Canada

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Between 2015 and 2017 alone, the number of international students in Canada increased by over 40 per cent. What is Canada doing?

  • Lenient immigration policies
  • Seen as open, safe and welcoming
  • Offering postgraduate work permits for up 3 years and encourages international students to apply for permanent residency
  • Availability of study visas which are significantly easier to obtain
  • Lower cost of living
  • Lower tuition costs
  • Canadian employers have shown great interest in hiring international student graduates not only because they speak several languages but they are seen as an asset to the Canadian work force and economy. According to the Forbes article: “As baby boomers retire from the workforce, Canada looks to newcomers like international students to help cover projected worker shortages in local economies by 2025. As a result of international student spending, approximately 170,000 jobs were created in the Canadian economy in 2017. That is a significant economic stimulus.”

A few common threads we see amongst the US, UK and Australia are their stricter immigration policies, many of which were shaped because of shifts in their respective governments, but they are also seen as expensive both in terms of cost of living and tuition. Limited or no opportunities for employment and possibilities to apply for permanent residency on graduation also makes these countries less attractive higher education destinations. When you compare Canada’s open and welcoming approach to international students and the opportunities students have on graduation, it is obvious why it is the favored destination and why it will soon make its way to the #1 position.

Source Links:

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2018-12-10/how-international-students-are-changing-australias-universities

https://www.forbes.com/sites/andyjsemotiuk/2018/11/16/international-students-pour-into-canada-ahead-of-projections/#45eac55853ec

https://collegepostnews.com/international-student-enrollments-decline/

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/eu-students-numbers-apply-uk-universities-fall-7-per-cent-brexit-latest-news-figures-a7558131.html

https://www.studyinternational.com/news/uk-universities-losing-out-on-international-students-due-to-stricter-immigration-policies/

https://www.bbc.com/news/education-36252302

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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

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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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Spotlight on Education News from Germany

May 11th, 2018

In this week’s blog, we’d like to spotlight Germany’s education system based on recent news we’ve been monitoring from here. The German secondary school matriculation exam, known as the Abitur, has been in the news lately, as has been the rise of partnerships between businesses and public universities that is of concern to a number of watchdog groups that worry about business meddling with institutions of higher education.

German Abitur Tackles Geopolitical Issues

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Drawing by the Indian cartoonist Paresh Nath. Photograph: Paresh Nath/Khaleej Times

While the United Kingdom is still grappling with the aftermath of its 2016 referendum that resulted in its exit from the European Union, aka Brexit, students in the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg last week were actually addressing the reality of Brexit in the written part of the Abitur exam.  The exam is Germany’s equivalent to the UK’s A-levels or France’s baccalaureate is the final hurdle for students leaving secondary school for university.  It includes a combination of written and oral tests.  In an effort to test the students’ knowledge of sociopolitical issues, the recent Abitur exam included a drawing by the Indian cartoonist Paresh Nath depicting the British in a split screen in which one is the fantasy of Brexit and the other reality of the referendum.  (Source: The Guardian)

Students in Baden Württemberg Protest the Abitur

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Photo: Bernd Wüstneck/Picture-Alliance, via Associated Press

It’s not unusual for students to complain about the unfairness and toughness of tests and exams.  But students in the same German State of Baden Württemberg had much to complain about the English-language portion of the recent Abitur examination.  Petitions have been signed protesting the use of archaic vocabulary which the students complained was incomprehensible.  The passage that is causing the collective grievance of the students is from the 1934 novel “Call it Sleep” by American writer Henry Roth. The passage (shown below) is describing the Statue of Liberty:

Against the luminous sky the rays of her halo were spikes of darkness roweling the air; shadow flattened the torch she bore to a black cross against flawless light — the blackened hilt of a broken sword. Liberty.”

(Source: The New York Times)

Strategic Partnerships between Higher Education and Corporations

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Transparency International Germany, is a nongovernmental organization that fights corruption and it is concerned about a troubling trend where more top-name German universities are entering strategic partnerships with corporations and commercializing their research.  Collaborations between German universities and business are not new and in the United States they are quite common. What is troubling is that more and more of the high ranking universities in Germany, experiencing a stagnant funding stream, are turning to the private business sector for help. Groups such the Free Association of Student Bodies which is a student union, and Die Tageszeitung, a left-learning newspaper are working with Transparency International Germany to expose the corporate influence on the public higher education sector.

(Source: The New York Times)

All You Need To Know About Higher Education in Germany

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The library inside Stuttgart’s Hohenheim University. Photo: DPA

There are close to 2000 post-secondary courses (out of 18,000) in Germany that are conducted in the English language and cater to international students. 12% of Germany’s students are from abroad. To learn more, click here:

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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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Diploma Mills: A Serious Problem and They’re Not Going Away

January 26th, 2018

Diploma Mills

Diploma mills and misrepresentation of academic documents continues to be a growing problem in countries around the world.  The BBC 4 recently reported on the serious problem of diploma mills and the large number of fake degrees purchased by UK citizens employed by the National Health Service and defense contracting industry. The UK Department for Education has vowed it is taking “decisive action to crack down on degree fraud” that “cheats genuine learners”. For more on the BBC 4 news report, click here: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42579634 and for an audio recording, click here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09ly731

Here at ACEI, we realize the importance of doing our due diligence in vetting and verifying academic documents and ensuring that they are in fact issued by legitimate educational institutions to individuals who have duly earned them through actual attendance and participation in classes and coursework validated by final examinations.

From time to time, we share tips we’ve gleaned from our years of experience with academic documents and in this week’s blog we’d like to do exactly that and repost a comprehensive to-do list for you. We welcome any tips you would like to add to this list.

Ensuring the authenticity of educational credentials is by far the single most important step in credential evaluation and international student admissions. Without due diligence in fraud detection, we may run the risk of evaluating documents that may have been falsified, or fraudulently procured and admitting the students into our institutions based on unauthentic credentials. As professionals involved in international credential evaluation and admissions, we must remain vigilant and adopt best practices that protect us and the community from fraud.

In this blog post, we offer some tips we had previously posted in January 2017, for you to consider when evaluating international academic credentials. In helping you detect a diploma from a mill, as well as falsified and altered documents.

What is an authentic academic credential?

The definition adopted by the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers is as follows:

An official transcript is one that has been received directly from the issuing institution. It must bear the college seal, date, and an appropriate signature. Transcripts received that do not meet these requirements should not be considered official and should be routinely verified for validity and accuracy before proceeding with the evaluation and admissions consideration.

The 5 Most Common Types of Non-Official and Illegitimate Documents:

  1. Forged or altered documents – Official, legitimate document that have been altered in some way (usually by omissions, addition, or changes)
  2. Inside jobs – these are special cases because the documents are actually produced by institutional employees, usually for a fee; inside jobs are virtually impossible to detect upon initial review.
  3. Fabricated (counterfeit) documents – documents fabricated to represent official documents from real or non-existent institutions (including use of letterheads)
  4. Degree or Diploma Mill Products – The products of degree/diploma mills are not in themselves fabrications but the academic study they purport to represent certainly is.
  5. Creative translations – “Translations” of foreign-language documents that are not just inaccurate but systematically misleading, tantamount to fabrication.

Watch for the Red Flags!

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Checklist of Clues:

  • The application is unusually late, assuming that it would impede verification, or is accompanied by a long letter from an impressive office – usually located in the U.S. – which may be attempting to lend an aura of officialdom to otherwise unacceptable documents. Do not be pressured or rushed into completing the evaluation or reaching an admissions decision;
  • Discrepancies/inconsistencies noted in the application for evaluation;
  • Evidence of corrected personal data (birth date, gender);
  • Document is tampered and has evidence of white-out, burn-marks, erasures, corrections;
  • Credentials do not display misspelling, wrong course titles for the time period, smudges, white-outs, or erasures;
  • Fonts, text layout, and symmetry of documents are correct for that institution’s credentials.
  • Interrupted/obliterated lines where information is generally typed or printed;
  • Missing pictures on diplomas or professional identification cards;
  • Partial seals on the surface of superimposed pictures not on the document surface;
  • Institutional logos are clean and correct for the time period.
  • Signatures of institutional authorities do not look forced, unsteadied, nor copied and pasted.
  • The type is inconsistent throughout the document because subjects have been added or grades changed. In some cases, crude alterations have been made in longhand, or lines may have been typed in at a slight angle to the computer generated originals;
  • Irregular spacing between words or letters, or insufficient space for the text;
  • Questionable paper quality, texture, size (regular or legal), weight coloration;
  • Ink color and quality;
  • Inappropriate or outdated signatures;
  • Incorrect seals/emblems, colors, shapes;
  • Excessive seals and stamps attempting to help the document appear official;
  • Does the document security features, such a embossed seals, foil printing, raised text, or holograms that should be the official document of that country?
  • Applicant claims to have lost the original documents;
  • Applicant claims to have graduated from an institution but can provide only a letter indicating completion of program;
  • Although the applicant had taken external examinations, the certificates have been lost and all he/she has left is a statement of attendance or graduation from the school;
  • You know the education system to be different from US system, yet the transcript appears to be very American, giving, subjects, grades and credit hours in US terms;
  • Grade certificates prepared in a language other than the official language of the country where the document originated. Many countries are currently using official transcripts in English: Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Canada (except Quebec), Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Oman, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and India.
  • Names may have been substituted. Typically, a person will type his/her name on a sheet of paper, cut it out and paste it across a copy of an original, which he/she then photocopies; the substitution of names will rarely appear on an original;
  • Grades listed may be absurdly high, or the number of course hours claimed to have been carried per semester an improbably load;
  • Numerical aberrations: credits do not add up and the overall grade point averages are a mathematical impossibility;
  • Is the educational terminology correct for the country concerned?
  • Use of unprofessional language on academic documents, poor grammar, misspellings;
  • Are there any dates or signatures on the documents?

Our advancement in technology is both a blessing and a curse. With sophisticated computers and printers at their disposal, counterfeiters today produce flawlessly perfect documents that for the uninitiated make it difficult to detect fraud. We hope that the tips shared in this blog and your institution’s enforcement to have in place strict standards for the submission and receipt of academic documents help thwart it and eliminate fraud.

Who ever said international credential evaluation is dull doesn’t know and appreciate what we do. Stay vigilant and happy sleuthing!

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

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