Tag Archives: college

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!

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

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Confused by SEVIS regulations?

July 20th, 2017

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Are you up-to-date on new SEVIS Regulations?

Are you confused by new regulations or changes? We can help!

ACEI expert webinar will provide updates and information about these changes in regulations as we have immigration experts on hand to answer your questions. Join us Friday, July 28, 10am PDT for ACEI SEVIS Regulations Webinar.

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The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a web-based system used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  SEVIS maintains information on Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools, international F-1 and M-1 students to attending those schools, U.S. Department of State-designated Exchange Visitor Program sponsors, and J-1 visa Exchange Visitor Program participants.

Because SEVIS is a tool used to protect national security, and it supports the legal entry of more than one million F, M and J nonimmigrants to the United States for education and cultural exchange, SEVIS can also be very confusing. The ever-changing regulations for student statuses in the current administration can make it very difficult to stay up-to-date with the changes.

Do you know what to do if a student status changes? According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), schools use SEVIS to petition SEVP for certification, which allows the school to offer programs of study to nonimmigrant students.

SEVIS also provides a mechanism for student and exchange visitor status violators to be identified so that appropriate enforcement is taken regarding deportation or university admission. Designated school officials of SEVP-certified schools use SEVIS to:

  • Update school information and to apply for recertification of the school for continued ability to issue Forms I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” to nonimmigrant students and their dependents, the status of the student is very crucial to their admission to the university and the U.S.
  • Issue Forms I-20 to specific nonimmigrants to obtain F or M status while enrolled at the school
  • Fulfill the school’s legal reporting responsibility regarding student addresses, courses of study, enrollment, employment and compliance with the terms of the student status
  • Transfer the student SEVIS records to other institutions

Exchange Visitor programs use SEVIS to petition the Department of State for designation that allows the sponsor to offer educational and cultural exchange programs to exchange visitors. Responsible officers of designated Exchange Visitor programs use SEVIS to:

  • Update sponsor information and apply for re-designation every two years
  • Issue Forms DS-2019, “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status,” to specific individuals to obtain J status
  • Fulfill the sponsor’s legal reporting responsibility regarding exchange visitor addresses, sites of activity, program participation, employment and compliance with the terms of the J status

Transfer exchange visitor SEVIS records to other institutions.Records of nonimmigrant admissions and continued participation in educational programs are maintained in SEVIS. Are you staying up-to-date on the kind of information and data needs to be included in SEVIS?

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As it is in ICE’s mission for accurate record keeping, SEVIS tracks and monitors nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors, however, it can be confusing. If accepted by an SEVP-certified school, foreign students may be admitted to the United States with the appropriate F or M nonimmigrant status. F-1 nonimmigrants are foreign students coming to the United States to pursue a full course of academic study in SEVP-approved schools. An F-2 nonimmigrant is a foreign national who is the spouse or qualifying child of an F-1 student. M-1 nonimmigrants are foreign nationals pursuing a full course of study at an SEVP-approved vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution (other than in language training programs) in the United States. An M-2 nonimmigrant is a foreign national who is the spouse or qualifying child of an M-1 student.

Are you aware of new regulations? Department of Homeland Security published a new rule for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Optional Practical Training (OPT) Extension in 2016.

SEVIS also ensures universities to provide proper reporting, data currency, integrity, and record keeping by schools and exchange visitor programs.  Our webinar helps make sense of the new regulations and rules.

We are honored to introduce our esteemed presenters:

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Scott F. Cooper, an immigration attorney, serving clients including higher education, academic health centers and associated research and service institutions. Scott is an expert on US immigration practice, compliance and complex case matters to present and answer your questions about the new administration challenges surrounding OPT and H1 regulations.

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Also joining us is Brooke H.M. Stokdyk, Assistant Director at Michigan State University. Brooke is an international education professional with over sixteen years of experience with F-1 and J-1 program administration at academic institutions sponsoring some of the largest international student and scholar populations in the U.S. Brooke has served as an F-1 and J-1 compliance consultant for more than six years.

Join us July 28, 2017 https://madmimi.com/s/0c224a for this important webinar!

Resource: https://www.ice.gov/sevis/factsheets

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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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2017 Annual meeting of ENIC and NARIC networks, Copenhagen, Denmark

June 22nd, 2017

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ACEI’s President & CEO, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert will be attending the 24th annual meeting ENIC-NARIC Network which will be held from June 25-27 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Ms. Saidi-Kuehnert will also be representing the Association of International Credential Evaluators, and the International Education Standards Council (IESC) of AACRAO as its Chair. She will be presenting a session on the U.S. Perspective on the 3-Year Bologna Compliant Bachelor’s degrees with Melanie Gottlieb, Deputy Director of AACRAO.

In this week’s blog, we would like to provide a brief profile on ENIC-NARIC and its role and purpose in the international education milieu:

ENIC Network (European Network of Information Centres)

  • The ENIC Network was formed by the Council of Europe and UNESCO to help implement the Lisbon Recognition Convention of 1997 and develop policy and practice for the recognition of qualifications
  • The Network is made up of the national information centres of the Parties to Lisbon Recognition Convention.
  • An ENIC is a body set up by the national authorities. While the specific competences of ENICs may vary, they will generally provide information on: the recognition of foreign diplomas, degrees and other qualifications; education systems in both foreign countries and the ENIC’s own country; opportunities for studying abroad, including information on loans and scholarships, as well as advice on practical questions related to mobility and equivalence.

NARIC Network (National Academic Recognition Information Centres)

  • The NARIC network is an initiative of the European Commission and was created in 1984.
  • The Council of Europe and UNESCO jointly provide the Secretariat for the ENIC Network.
  • The ENIC Network cooperates closely with the NARIC Network of the European Union.
  • The network aims at improving academic recognition of diplomas and periods of study in the Member States of the European Union (EU) countries, the European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Turkey.
  • The network is part of the Community’s Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP), which stimulates the mobility of students and staff between higher education institutions in these countries.

Stay tuned for a report on the ENIC-NARIC Network meeting in our next blog.

Source: ECNI-NARIC http://www.enic-naric.net/annual-meeting-of-enic-and-naric-networks.asp

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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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Dispatches from the NAFSA 2017 Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA: A photo journal

June 1st, 2017

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This week, NAFSA, the world’s largest association dedicated to international education and exchange, brought together a diverse and vibrant community of nearly 10,000 global leaders and colleagues at its Annual Conference & Expo right here in ACEI’s backyard, Los Angeles.

More than 107 countries have been represented in a setting that emphasized the message, “We build bridges, not walls.”

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Marina Maligana of NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education)
with ACEI Marketing Director, Laura Sippel

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Marina Maligana of NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education)
with ACEI President, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

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NAFSA Exhibition Hall

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NAFSA Exhibition Hall

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NAFSA Exhibition Hall

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NAFSA President Ester Brimmer

NAFSA President Ester Brimmer at the opening plenary spoke on how as international educator, we are part of the solution. “We need to stay calm and stay woke,” she said in light of the current political climate. “We need to building bridges, not walls,” she added. Question she posed to the conference attendees was whether the “U.S. will see itself as part of the global community or pursue the path of isolationism.” She stressed the importance of “keeping the U.S. an open and welcoming place.”

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NAFSA Opening Plenary Speaker Isabel Wilkerson

NAFSA Opening Plenary  Speaker Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of New York Times bestseller, “The Warmth of Other Suns.” Ms. Wilkerson gave a moving and inspiring speech and shared excerpts of the presonal stories she had gathered for her book from the African American communities who had migrated from the American south during the Jim Crow era to the North, Northeast, and as far as the West, Hawaii and Alaska. Ms. Wilkerson message was that “we are one species and we in this together, we are not the social constructs that are forced on us.”

At ACEI, we agree with NAFSA’s message of diversity and inclusion and we want to stay globally engaged and educated.

We will pledge to protect our core values, as Americans, which include freedom, opportunity, and welcome.

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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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25 Action Items to Foster Diversity & Inclusion on College/University Campuses

05/18/17

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On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, ACEI hosted a webinar on the topic of Diversity and Inclusion. We would like to offer you highlights of our webinar in this week’s blog.

What is diversity and inclusion?

Diversity is any aspect that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another, but it also means appreciation of and respect for differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion.

Some may define inclusion is a state of being valued, respected, endorsed, and supported. It’s also about focusing on the needs of everyone and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve their greatest potential.

To look at this big picture, diversity is the mix; think of inclusion as getting the mix to work together harmoniously.

How to foster diversity and inclusion for admissions?

Here are 16 immediate steps you can take to help you develop a program that supports and encourages diversity and inclusion on your campus:

  1. Have your message be open to all groups
  2. Develop videos saying, “You are welcome and safe here”
  3. Mix up housing for international students so that students from different countries room together
  4. Make sure the international admissions staff has professional development in creating inclusive classrooms
  5. Do not exclude domestic students from diversity and inclusion
  6. Prepare host students on how to interact with international students
  7. Expand programs from international students (social and classroom activities)
  8. Share high impact positive stories, using alumni, parents, and staff.
  9. Recruit and retain staff with international education experience and training
  10. Allocate financial resources to create and implement programming for international students
  11. Provide more staff resources and training for creating diversity and inclusion
  12. Provide professional development for faculty and staff to create learning spaces that multicultural and inclusive
  13. Provide opportunities for domestic and international students to learn about themselves and others, have them realize we have more in common than not.
  14. “By understanding someone else, you better understand yourself”
  15. Create co-curricular programs that foster language and cultural proficiency
  16. Provide mentoring for international students by domestic students

Here are additional steps to keep in mind to ensure the programs you have set in motion continue to advance your institution’s mission of cultivating diversity and inclusion:

17. Alter your approach to allow for various learning styles. Evaluate what works and what doesn’t

18. Survey and reach out to international students, parents, and alumni to see what is working and what is not

19. Communicate to your international students that you are investing in them

20. Change how you instruct to various learning styles

21. Help students gain confidence

22. Foster online meaningful discussions and engagements

23. Move the focus from teach to student to community. Have shared narratives

24. Create pathways to help international students immerse into a host culture

25. Prepare your campus for a global student body (learn language phrases, have international clothing/food week)

In closing, when you say, “you are welcome here” also say, “You are to be who you are and we welcome you.”

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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International Student Mobility: 2017 Trends in International Student Recruitment

May 11th, 2017

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ACEI is pleased to share the 2017 report prepared by Study Portals in this week’s blog.  The following is an excerpt from the report. To read the full report, please click here

These days, there is a widespread and wide-ranging conversation about globalization; but only by visiting classrooms in every corner of the world can you see it in action. International students around the world are part of a movement bigger than themselves – a movement involving millions of people at thousands of campuses.

At the moment there are more than 5 million students pursuing their education outside of their home countries – a number three times that of international student enrolments in 1990l. By 2022, the number of internationally mobile students is expected to reach 7 million. The most significant growth in international education comes from Asian students, who are looking to study abroad in English.

International education is now open to the masses, and no longer only available the world’s elite. This expansion is particularly driven by a rising middle class that now exists on every continent.

Student mobility, like many other economic and social principles, follows the laws of supply and demand: The popularity of study destinations correspond to the number of globally-appealing programs that different countries offer, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. These are, unsurprisingly, also the countries with the highest number of English-taught programs around the world.

China’s and India’s rise to the word’s top 10 most powerful economies (and South Korea currently holding the 15th place) has given rise to an increased demand for higher education. These three countries are also leading sources of globally mobile students. One in every six international students now comes from China, while Asian students make up more than a half of the world mobile students.

International education is on a static phenomenon; it is influenced by international politics, changing demographics and economic factors.

What do we expect to see in the cooing year, based on our expert insights and the mountain of data we have gathered on international study choice? Here are our top predictions for the year!

Please click here to read the full report and learn more about Study Portal’s top predictions for 2017.

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Study Portals  is the international Study Choice Platform. StudyPortals’ Mission is “Empowering the world to choose education.” How? By making study choice transparent globally. StudyPortals help universities with easier and more effective international marketing and recruitment solutions.

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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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