Tag Archives: credentials

Institutional Accreditation: A Standard Under Attack? Misunderstood? Ignored?

February 15th, 2019

iaasuami

Last year, the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE), of which ACEI is an Endorsed Member, hosted its annual Symposium in Orlando, FL and tackled the issue of institutional Accreditation.  Those of us in the credential evaluation field live and breath accreditation. Determining an international institution’s recognition status is the first step any junior or seasoned credential evaluator takes. It is what sets an international school or institution of higher education on a par with its accredited counterpart in the U.S. There are many types of accreditation in the U.S. and I will not go into each of them in this blog (CHEA would be a good source to visit for details), but the one we focus on and use as the standard is regional accreditation.

Unlike most countries where the Ministry of Education is responsible for the oversight and recognition of schools and institutions of higher education, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) does not have this authority. It does, however, recognize accreditation boards and provides this information to the public. In most countries, when evaluating international credentials, we look to see if the studies were completed at an institution that is formally recognized and endorsed by the country’s Ministry of Education (MOE). I’m over simplifying but as I said, in most cases, we look for MOE recognition.

Lately, I see there’s a disconnect between educators, school/college counselors, and admissions professionals in relation to accreditation. In some cases, it’s an afterthought or entirely forgotten. As if accreditation is a bad thing, a nuisance. I even find that many, even those in the education sector, are unfamiliar with what is meant by accreditation and the different types of accreditation available in the U.S., especially regional. For example, I recently read a question in a forum intended for admissions officers at local colleges here in Southern California about a “university” in Downtown Los Angeles. The individual was asking whether anyone had heard about it and did not even consider checking the list of regionally accredited institutions CHEA has available on its website. A quick online search found this so-called university to be nothing but a diploma mill with a defunct website.

Everyone involved in education or counseling students for further education must, I repeat, must keep this link handy for reference.  The USDE also dedicates a page to Diploma Mills and Accreditation. Many of you who follow my posts on this blog know that I frequently write about Diploma and Accreditation Mills, warning fellow credential evaluators, educators, admissions officers, counselor, and prospective students against the perils of falling prey to these fraudulent entities.

Every day, I come across news of yet another individual holding a prominent position in government, whether here in the U.S. or overseas who has been discovered to have a degree from a diploma mill or misrepresented him/herself as a degree holder from an institution never attended. Examples abound, but I’ll share a couple in this blog. First, there is the Deputy Foreign Minister of Malaysia who had falsely claimed to have a degree from the prestigious University of Cambridge in the UK. He has now admitted that he had misspoken and his degree is from Cambridge International University in the U.S., which is still dubious in status given it lacks regional accreditation by one of the accreditation boards recognized by the US Department of Education. A little digging on the Internet shows it to be yet another diploma mill. Read this piece and you’ll see all the red flags. Click here.

Next, we have Nigeria where the Minister of Education announced last month that the government will shut down and demolish 68, I repeat, 68, institutions discovered to be operating illegally and without accreditation and will apprehend and prosecute their owners.  What is disconcerting is the following quote in the article posted by University World News: “Some academics are asking if closing down “illegal” universities is the answer, in view of the inability of Nigeria’s current legally-established universities to absorb the number of school leavers wanting places.”  Begs the question, have we slipped so far down the slippery slope of mediocrity that attending a sub-standard “university” or one operating illegally is better than none at all?

Accreditation in the U.S. is also under scrutiny. The USDE, under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, released newly proposed changes to rewrite several rules concerning regulation of colleges, universities, and their respective accrediting agencies. The proposed changes would loosen federal oversight of these institutions.  In an article for Inside Higher Education, a former for-profit college executive speaks out against plans by the USDE to weaken requirements for oversight of college quality. It’s a disturbing expose of the misappropriation of funds and other unethical activities.  Just as I was about to post this blog, a new report came out by Inside Higher Education that USDE is rolling back or toning down some of its proposed changes in the face of strong opposition.

Right now, the jury is out as to how USDE’s proposed changes will impact accreditation regulations. Personally, I don’t have a good feeling about the direction it is headed. Do we really want less oversight of our schools, universities, and accrediting agencies given the proliferation of questionable for-profit schools and the booming diploma mill industry?

Additional Links:

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=b024016f-e13c-4897-8290-817c71b7a3f1

http://www.insightintodiversity.com/u-s-department-of-education-plans-to-overhaul-several-college-accreditation-rules/

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

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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Fighting Diploma Fraud & Protecting Credential Integrity with Technology

February 8th, 2019

blockchain

Diploma mills are here to stay as long as there is little or no regulation monitoring them and there is a demand for degrees which do not require classroom or online attendance, exams, research papers or thesis.  Fake degrees are purchased from online sites offering an à la carte menu of “products” at a fraction of the cost of an actual earned academic degree. Their websites can range from the tacky, cluttered with advertisements to the sophisticated boasting a litany of institutional accreditations with equally fraudulent accrediting entities. Individuals visiting these sites can select a degree of their choice in their preferred major from the menu and even select their graduation date.  They can order class rings, mugs, sweatshirts and other paraphernalia with the fake university’s emblem. At the strike of a few keys on the keyboard, and payment of fees with a credit card, they walk away with the promise of a Bachelor, Master, and even a Ph.D.  As employers post job openings requiring degrees, and in most cases, advanced degrees such as a Master’s or Ph.D., the absence of an earned credential has driven many to willingly seek a diploma mill or fall prey to sales schemes and tactics that lure the naïve and unsuspecting consumer to purchase a degree they were promised from what they assumed to be a prestigious, though non-existent, university.

Earlier this week, we came across a question on an online quorum where a counselor at a local community college here in California was asking about a “university” a student at his college was considering transferring to because, and I quote, “he could get a bachelor’s quickly.” The college counselor could not find any information on the so-called university that cited its physical address in the Downtown Los Angeles area.  A quick search on the Internet took me to the university’s website that was “under maintenance” and thanks to GooleMaps, found its campus to be a strip mall with a “For Lease” sign posted on the door. I warned the college counselor to advise his students against applying to this university as it was not regionally accredited and most likely a diploma mill.

And, just when we thought diploma mills are set up by nefarious entities, we recently learned that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had set up a fake university in Michigan to crack down on illicit operations allowing foreign citizens to stay in the U.S. illegally. The sting operation was to catch recruiters and others engaging in immigration fraud. Indictments were issued with charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud and harboring aliens for profit. Fighting fraud with fraud. To read more, click here

Clearly, there is a market for fake degrees. Where there is demand, there is supply. And it’s proven to be a very lucrative industry…a billion-dollar industry.

What is being done to protect against fraud when it comes to academic credentials?

Blockchain Platforms

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We are beginning to hear about Blockchain technology being used as a platform to help combat against falsified diplomas and certificates. There are several companies offering Blockchain platform to address this issue. One that I read about recently is EchoLink Foundation that has designed the EKO Blockchain Platform with the goal to provide verified education, skill, and work experience information. To avoid tampering from third parties, EchoLink Foundation allows only approved educational, training, and other institutions access to enter their information. To read more, click here and for learn more about for more on how universities are adopting blockchain technology , click here.

There are many institutions and countries that have adopted digital platforms for the secure archival, verification and transmission of their academic credentials. Here’s a partial list of  countries that have sprung into action by using technology to fight against fraud and protect credential integrity:

Republic of Georgia

The Business and Technology University in Tbilisi, Georgia has implemented an educational credential verification system using the blockchain technology powered by Emercoin. To learn more, click here

Russia

We just learned that the Russian Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Education and Science, (Rosobrnadzor) will implement blockchain technology in the country’s main graduation examination. To learn more, click here

Caribbean Examination Council:

In November 2018, the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) started distributing blockchain-based certificates to “24,000 shortlisted candidates” to ensure a faster verification process of educational credentials. To learn more, click here

South Africa

Fake degree from diploma mills is one problem, the other is falsification of academic documents from legitimate institutions. South Africa is taking steps to tackle fake degrees and its universities have the ability to verify qualifications through a fully-automated centralized online degree verification systems called MiE. To learn more, click here

Switzerland

In 2018, University of Basel started using blockchain technology to protect and verify academic credentials. It has partnered with the Center for Innovative Finance, a research group within the University of Basel which focuses on financial technology and another company called Proxeus. This partnership is intended to end reliance on traditional paper-transcripts and adopt a digital platform for the archiving and distribution of academic credentials. To learn more, click here

This is just a sample of countries and steps they’ve taken to protect against credential fraud. In future blogs, we will showcase other digital platforms set up by institutions, third party providers, and governments to protect against falsification of academic documents.

As technology progresses, so do the entities operating diploma mills. They are using sophisticated tools to reproduce believable documents. At the same time, institutions and some countries are taking measures to fight these mills by taking advantage of advances made in technology.

Is the blockchain platform for credential verification deemed effective? It’s too early to tell, but according to retired FBI Agent, Allen Ezell, “as long as everyone gets on board and participates, it may be practical towards the future. (Similar to a chain link fence, with electronic record keeping.) Also, keeping out just one rogue entity will also keep the ‘chain’ trustworthy.”

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

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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AXACT (PRIVATE), LTD., KARACHI, PAKISTAN – ‘WORLDS LARGEST DIPLOMA MILL’ – A BRIEF GLIMPSE

January 4th, 2019

Regretfully, Axact is still in business on the Internet today. Look at their website, www.axact.com, and remember everything you see is ‘smoke and mirrors.’ They ‘hide’ in plain sight under the corporate umbrella as the ‘World’s leading IT Company.’ I am told they have no exportable product! Please click on all their links, look closely at the pictures, platforms, core ‘products,’ business units, etc. Just remember the true nature of the business!! You have never seen anything like this before.

Axact has about “25,000 employees and representatives worldwide” (their words) selling their products. They have websites for 700-900 fake schools, 400-500 fake accreditation mills, 100+ ‘spider web’ type sites designed to lure the potential student into one of their schools, along with other support sites used for support. Axact is currently updating some of their older schools and changing web to .education (.edu) extensions. Beware!

Since their fake schools are touted as being ‘American,’ they have created about 20-35 U.S. type accreditors which show the American Flag, U.S. Capitol and appropriately use red, white and blue colors. They even gave a Washington, DC address to a school or accreditor. Axact tends to use addresses for many schools in Southern California, more than any other state. Prospective students are lured into these schools by promise of great jobs requiring a degree, hefty scholarships, etc.

So you can better understand the magnitude of Axact, when the FIA raided their print shop in May, 2015, in Karachi at night (when Co-founder and CEO, Shoaib Ahmed Sheikh accompanied them), they seized 2,200,000 blank diplomas, transcripts, accreditation letterheads, etc. which the FIA General displayed to the press. Axact officials were masters at “Fake News” long before our current politicians made this a daily commonplace. Axact is the master at using all aspects of social media, along with fake free press releases, to hype and support their fake schools and business acumen.

Axact has sold millions and millions of fake diplomas and transcripts to individuals around the world since its formation in 1997 (initially only sold term papers and other scurrilous documents), before they purchased their first diploma mills and started sell to these wares. Afterwards, Axact began creating their own fake school in about 2003, by borrowing pictures of buildings, people’s images and identities, stock photos, or anywhere they took a notion to, adding text from companies and school sites around the globe, all resulting in what we have today. Sometimes they move so fast in creating a ‘new school’ they make an error and forget to change a name or two on a site, thus the schools ‘link up’. Or you can connect them through ‘tracing’ their faculty or accreditation. Several schools, including Gatesville, offer an “Online University Certified Education Associate” position where the associate keeps a percentage of tuition paid by the student, Silver 40%, Gold 50%, and Platinum 70%!! Think about this! I must compliment Axact on the finest graphics I have ever seen on these type sites.

Even after the diploma and transcript are sold, Axact employees have mastered squeezing additional monies from ‘graduates’ via the need for ‘legalization’ of their documents via Embassy stamps and seals, US Dept. of State Apostille Certification, etc.

Besides their size and world market via the Internet, Axact stands alone in another area. Generally, a diploma mill is finished with the buyer after they make the sale, maybe a verification to an employer later on.

Not with Axact! This is where their relationship takes a dramatic turn for the worse. Axact employees, those involved in the “Upsell” then tighten the screws on their ‘graduate’ with telephoned threats of arrest or deportation, impersonation, extortion, blackmail, supported by using phishing and spoofing techniques. They impersonate officials from law enforcement, government, regulators, Embassy personnel, even our Department of State, White House, and Department of Education in order to make this part of the fraud work. We have seen single victims of extortion by Axact in the range of $800,000+. There are also reports they may sell the credit card data they have amassed through their diploma sales. And, at one point, Axact recorded all these calls!!

Axact’s main target for sales is the Gulf Region, with the United States accounting for only about 34% of their sales. About 75,000 diplomas and transcripts have been sold in the USA. Axact reached the billion dollar sales mark in 2013-2014. Just think how long these fraudulent credentials will haunt the academic and business world in the future.

Like no other mill we have observed, Axact has diversified into other frauds (with web sites), including a publishing house, job placement companies, recruitment entities, term paper, dissertation mills, and research entities, ’reputation rebuilding/repair’, automobile importing, and travel sites.

Axact has probably stayed in business ‘in plain sight’ for 20+ years because of rumored connections with organized crime figures, connections with money laundering for the Pakistan government, their intelligence service ISI, or their military. (Many former Army officers, Colonel and Lt. Colonel are executives in Axact-What does this tell you?) I have never observed a case where a Judge admits accepting a $50,000 bribe to acquit the 14 Axact executives, which he did; a grenade is thrown into the house of a Axact former prosecutor; an Axact official on the eve of his ‘spilling the beans’ is assassinated on his way home one evening; several prosecutors were grabbed off the street and ‘re-educated’; cooperating employees disappear, etc. I hope you can see the magnitude and true colors of this fraud. This is just a brief glimpse. The FBI is investigating this.

Please look at these four fake school websites, two older, two newer. Once you have absorbed these, this will put you in a better position to instantly recognize their thousands of sites. Trace everything–accreditation, faculty names, and unusual word grouping, or misspelling!!

Gatesvilleuniversity.com
Manhattanbayuniversity.com
Sangonio University
Olford Mount University

A copy of the Pakistan FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) report on Axact (with school names) can be found on the web site of book, Degree Mills, which I co-authored at www.degreemills.com.

Additional Links:

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/pakistani-diploma-mill-of-fake-degrees-exposed/articleshow/62528628.cms

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42579634

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/18/world/asia/fake-diplomas-real-cash-pakistani-company-axact-reaps-millions-columbiana-barkley.html

allen

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 Tale of 3 Countries and Fake Degree

December 7th, 2018

ACEI-Blog-Fraud-Tale_of_3_Countries

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

2-Fraud-Tale_of_3_Countries

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

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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7 Facts on the SQA and SQA Advanced Qualifications

November 16th, 2018

sqa

In this week’s blog, we would like to spotlight the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and their Advanced Qualifications. In partnership with SQA, ACEI has reviewed and evaluated the qualifications in Accounting, Business and Computing for U.S. educational equivalence comparability and credit equivalence.

1. Who is the SQA?

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is an international leader in education and qualifications development. The SQA has over 100 years’ experience in developing qualifications and qualifications systems, and over 20 years’ experience of working internationally in partnership with schools, colleges, universities, employers, training organizations, industry professionals, professional bodies, and governments.
SQA helps individuals realize their potential and achieve their ambitions by providing a wide range of high-quality, internationally recognized qualifications, and associated services.
Based in Glasgow, SQA is a not-for-profit government-sponsored organization, accountable to the Scottish Government, and sits at the heart of Scotland’s world- renowned education system.

2. What are SQA Advanced Qualifications?

SQA Advanced Qualifications are internationally recognized higher education qualifications at certificate and diploma level. They develop the theoretical knowledge and practical skills — such as information technology, communication, and problem solving — expected by a university or employer.
They have been developed to meet the skills needs of employers, and the requirements of education professionals, and also to enable advanced entry into many undergraduate degree programs in universities and higher education institutions.

3. Why study an SQA Advanced Qualification?

Achieving an SQA Advanced Certificate or SQA Advanced Diploma is one of the best ways to progress onto further studies or develop a career.

Here are 3 reasons why:

i. Valued by universities

An SQA Advanced Diploma is equivalent to the first two years of a degree, and is a recognized route into year 2 or 3 of a related degree program at home or overseas.

ii. Internationally recognized qualifications, designed by experts

Sitting at the heart of Scotland’s world-renowned education system, SQA works in partnership to ensure qualifications are suitable, relevant, and up to date.

iii. Career-focused and trusted by employers

SQA qualifications enable our delivering centers to form industry and employer partnerships that provide opportunities to combine studying with on the job experience.


4. Who are SQA Advanced Qualifications for?

They are suitable for a wide range of learners, including: school leavers, adult returners to education, employees who wish to enhance their career prospects and people who wish to start their own business.

An SQA Advanced Qualification is ideal for students who would like to move on to a related undergraduate degree program at home or overseas, students who would like to study for a degree at an English-speaking university, or students who intend to enter into the workplace.

5. How do SQA Advanced Qualifications work?

i. Practical Learning

SQA Advanced Qualifications aim to develop the high-level transferable skills and academic knowledge required for degree study or work. They use practical approaches to learning, with study methods including project and assignment work, group work, presentations, and case studies.

ii. Assessment

Subjects are assessed in different ways. SQA Advanced Qualifications use a variety of assessment methods, such as an exam, essay, project, investigation and/or a practical assignment. Assessment is quality assured through internal verification (using an institution’s own staff) and external verification (using SQA subject experts from the education sector).

iii. Certification

On successful completion of your SQA Advanced Qualification you will receive:
An SQA certificate stating the title of the qualification achieved
A listing of all the units passed and the Graded Units

iv. Progression

Once students have successfully achieved the SQA Advanced Qualification they have a number of options. They can progress on to a degree course in university at home or overseas through our Diploma to Degree program, do a qualification with a professional body, or go straight into employment.

2sqa

 

6. Does the Diploma lead to a Degree?

The Diploma to Degree program is a well-established and successful route for students to complete an SQA Advanced Diploma and then progress directly on to the second or third year of a related undergraduate degree with one of our university partners.

SQA has partnered and set up progression pathway agreements with a number of highly regarded international institutions in countries around the world, covering various progression models, including online delivery. These institutions recognize the SQA Advanced Diploma as evidence of a student’s capability, given the quality learning experience it provides, and as a result offer advanced entry.

Many students study for an SQA Advanced Diploma in their home country before progressing on to a related undergraduate degree either within their own country or abroad. This can be a cost-effective route for those looking to gain international experience while achieving a degree.
Successful graduates can study at universities around the world, including in the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

Please note that individual universities may ask for additional entry requirements.
www.sqa.org.uk/studyoptions

 

7. What about Professional Body Exemptions?

Many professional bodies in the UK and internationally recognize the quality and value of an SQA Advanced Qualification, and in some cases may offer exemptions to criteria for membership. For example, individuals may not have to do an exam as their SQA Advanced Qualification may also satisfy an entry requirement for membership.
www.sqa.org.uk/advancedqualifications

 

CONTACT:

sqa

For more information on available courses and centers in your area delivering SQA Advanced Qualifications: www.sqa.org.uk/advancedqualifications email: articulation@sqa.org.uk

 

3sqa

For more information on the evaluation of SQA Advanced Qualifications and their U.S. educational comparability, please contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org

 

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AN EVALUATOR’S JOURNEY

November 9th, 2018

Sunset

When I accepted my mother’s invitation to accompany her to a cocktail party, I did so reluctantly. It was July 1982 and as a freshly minted college grad with a BA in Political Science the last thing I wanted to do was attend a party with my mother. It turned out to be the best thing I could have done as I left the party with not one but three job offers. I decided to forgo the offer of working at a law office (even though I was toying with the idea of going to Law School), or a real estate office (numbers were not my forte) and chose instead to accept the hostess’s invitation to work at her private not-for-profit Foundation that specialized in international education research and evaluation. The rest, as they say is history. Over a course of thirteen years, I worked my way up the proverbial ladder from file clerk, to junior then senior evaluator, assistant to associate director and finally as Executive Director. Bitten by the entrepreneur spirit and an MBA in hand, I bid goodbye to my mentor and founded the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI) in 1994.

You can say I was born into the field of International education. Beginning from an early age by insisting on “working” at the education firm my mother headed in Tehran, Iran, to attending an international boarding school in England, and continuing my higher education in the U.S. The same is true for my brother and business partner, Alan Saidi, who joined me at ACEI in 1996 as Senior VP and COO. Together, we have infused into ACEI our personal life experiences of having lived in three different continents and benefiting from three different education systems (Iran, UK, and USA). Our mission has always been to make ACEI a company that truly cares for and values its international candidates who are considering to further their education, or qualify for employment, immigration or professional licensing or maybe they are displaced because of war and conflict and seeking refuge in the U.S.

Our own experiences, as international students morphed into immigrants, have enriched our understanding of the dreams of international students, immigrants and the plight of refugees. We have also garnered a deep appreciation of world cultures and the varied nuances of education systems around the world. Together with a team of expert evaluators we pride ourselves in ACEI’s history of over 22 years of dedicated service in international credential evaluation and helping our colleagues at U.S. schools and colleges with the admission of students from around the globe. We continue to share our experience through our e-learning training programs, our blog AcademicExchange, our monthly newsletter The Report, and by contributing to publications on world education systems, and speaking at various international education conferences.

As an Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators, we at ACEI are committed in preparing evaluations by recommending U.S. educational equivalencies that are consistent and in compliance with the Association’s Standards and Best Practices.

If you are exploring opportunities of outsourcing your international student credential evaluations, we hope you will consider ACEI as your number one source. You and your international students will receive the personal care and attention we know you deserve. It is our mission to be of service and we want to be your trusted source for international credential evaluations.

Kind regards,
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

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

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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Which approach do you use when evaluating international credentials? Year-counting or Benchmarking?

October 5th, 2018

benchmarking

At the recent TAICEP conference in Philadelphia, PA, ACEI President & CEO, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert and Melanie Gottlieb, Deputy Director at AACRAO presented a session on Understanding the Different Credential Evaluation Philosophies. In this week’s blog, we will provide a recap of the key points addressed in the presentation.

Why are there different credential evaluation philosophies?

Absence of a governmental body that helps shape standards to guide and monitor international credential evaluation
U.S. institutions base their evaluation philosophies on their admissions models (open vs. threshold vs. holistic)
Credential evaluation service providers are autonomous and are trying to produce a universally acceptable product to both university and the client
State/Territorial Licensing Boards have unique academic requirements
US Customs & Immigration Service enforce unique criteria for the purposes of employment-based visas
Economics of higher education shape the way credentials are evaluated

What are the two credential evaluation approaches?

• Benchmarking
• Year-counting (Quantitative)

What is the Benchmarking approach?

Benchmarking is usually more readily accepted at the pre-university level. (11 years, even 10, is not usually rejected by most institutions and credential evaluation services).

What is the Year-Counting (Quantitative) approach?

Year-counting is much more rigidly followed at the post-secondary level where three year degrees/diplomas are not widely accepted for academic or professional purposes

Why Year-Counting?

• Used because an internal qualitative comparison is not always easy to do
• Quality is impossible to measure
• Quantitative comparisons, using the US model, are quick and easy
• It avoids the quality pronouncements that are just too subjective when comparing degrees

Why Benchmarking?

• The benchmarking method is where the significant achievements are compared throughout the education system
• Conclusion of primary, lower secondary, secondary, first post-secondary degree, terminal post-graduate degree

What is the best approach? Combination of Year-counting and Benchmarking?

• The best way to approach international credential evaluation is a judicious application of BOTH methodologies

What are the dilemmas of the dual philosophies?

• General Education courses (unique to US and US-patterned education systems
• Inequity (3-year Bologna-compliant Bachelor’s degrees treated differently than 3-year Indian Bachelor’s degree)
• Inconsistency in credential evaluation outcomes (e.g. evaluation prepared for a graduate admission differs than one for professional board)
• Stunted growth aka “Theory of Retarding Lead” (Has U.S., once leading in international ed, stopped innovating?)
• Global competition (more countries entering the field and vying for the international student market)

What are the practical concerns for credential evaluators?

• Credential Evaluation services prepare multi-purpose evaluations (for admission to HEIs, employment, professional licensing, immigration, each having unique requirements)
• Adopt one or continue with the dual philosophies (benchmarking for high school completion, year-counting for graduate degree comparability, or a combination)
• Remaining consistent
• U.S. HEI: autonomy does not allow for national evaluation standards and the staff at HEI’s who are most engaged with the topic may not have either the influence or the sophistication to make change
• The growing movement of the global recognition convention and its implications for the US

How do we resolve the concerns?

• Need for transparency from HEI’s on performance of those admitted to graduate studies based on 3-year degrees
• What are US HEIs doing to remain competitive globally?
• Some credential evaluation services have a mutual understanding of fundamental standards (e.g. AICE and its Endorsed Members adhere to the AICE Standards)
• Increased focus on training for HEIs to understand their role and increase their sophistication in the evaluation process
• Increased engagement with professional accreditors and state licensing boards

At ACEI, we apply both year-counting and benchmarking approaches when evaluating international credentials. Let us know which approach you use or prefer using and why. We look forward to hearing from 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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