Tag Archives: credentials

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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7 Facts on the SQA and SQA Advanced Qualifications

November 16th, 2018

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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.

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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:

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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

 

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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).

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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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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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Facts on CENTRAL EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY, Hungary

August 3rd, 2018

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The Central European University in Budapest has been the subject of an intense battle in Hungary. CreditDaniel Vegel/Central European University

The Central European University (CEU) has been at cross hairs with the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán since last year, when Hungary passed a law that imposes stringent conditions to license foreign universities.

The new law requires CEU to open a branch in its “home state” of New York alongside its campus in Budapest. It also requires CEU to secure a bilateral agreement of support from the U.S. government.

The law was met with criticism from universities around the world, the United States and the executive arm of the European Union. Mass protests filled the streets of Budapest, the Hungarian capital. Critics said the law was aimed at CEU and specifically at its founder, the Hungarian-born George Soros who has spent millions backing organizations that promote liberal democracy and open borders in Europe.

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A 2017 protest rally to support Central European University as Viktor Orbán visited Tbilisi, Georgia. Photograph Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA

CEU prides itself on the diversity of nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures examining such subjects as emerging democracies, transitional economies, media freedom, nationalism, human rights, and the rule of law. The University is often seen as a bastion of liberalism, where thousands of students from across central Europe and the former Soviet Union have a received education in English over the past two decades.

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at a Fidesz party rally in Szekesfehervar, Hungary, on April 6, 2018. LASZLO BALOGH/GETTY IMAGES

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Mr. George Soros. Source: CEU website

Mr. Orbán, who himself was among the recipients of scholarships from foundations sponsored by the financier George Soros during the transition to democracy, now holds a very strong anti-immigration position and has accused Mr. Soros “of plotting to destabilize the continent by allowing millions of migrants to settle in Europe.” Source: The New York Times.

Mr. Orbán has championed the concept of “illiberal democracy” as part of his political platform. After winning re-election, declared: “The age of liberal democracy is over.”

In early May, the Open Society Foundations (OSF) – an international grant-making network also founded by Mr. Soros – announced it would close the Budapest office from which it has disbursed more than €400-million ($605-million) for democratic and civil initiatives over 34 years. Source: The Globe and Mail

Let us take a look at the origins of CEU and an overview of its programs:

History of CEU and its founder, George Soros

According to the information provided by the University’s website, “in 1989, a group of visionary intellectuals—most of them prominent members of the anti-totalitarian democratic opposition—conceptualized an international university that would help facilitate the transition from dictatorship to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Among them was George Soros, the Hungarian-American financier and philanthropist, who founded Central European University two years later.” The generous endowment given to CEU by Mr. Soros today stands at 500 million euros, or about $610 million making it one of the most successful and revered centers for social sciences in Hungary and eastern Europe.

The CEU website continues, “Soros championed the project because he understood that open societies can flourish only with people in positions of responsibility who are educated to promote them. His vision was to recruit professors and students from around the world to build a unique institution, one that would train future generations of scholars, professionals, politicians, and civil society leaders to contribute to building open and democratic societies that respect human rights and adhere to the rule of law.”

In 1991, starting with a little over than 100 students from 20 countries, CEI held its first classes in Prague. In 1993, the University relocated to Budapest.

CEU’s Accreditation

In the United States, CEU is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. In Hungary, CEU is officially recognized as a privately maintained and operated university. The university was accredited by the Hungarian Accreditation Committee in 2004.

CEU’s Membership

CEU is an active member of the European University Association and of the Council of Graduate Schools in the US.

CEU Schools and Departments

CEU has 13 departments, two schools, and 17 research centers that focus on the social sciences, humanities, business, law, and public policy.

Central European University is a graduate-level university offering a wide range of degree programs at the Master’s and Doctoral levels. It has 370 faculty and approximately 1,400 students from more than 130 countries.

For a list of degree programs offered at CEU that are accredited by the Hungarian Accreditation Committee and registered by the Educational Authority, click here.

CEU’s Worldwide Rankings

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015 placed CEU among the world’s top 100 universities in the social sciences category.

According to the 2015 QS World University Rankings, the university is placed 29th worldwide in the field of politics and international studies, among the top 51-100 worldwide in philosophy, and among the top 51-100 worldwide for sociology.

The Economics department of the university has recently ranked eighth in Europe by the ERC (European Research Council), based on research excellence.

On the 2012 QS TOPMBA survey, the CEU Business School is ranked thirteenth as best MBA program in Europe.

And, according to a study published by German newspaper Die Zeit, the CEU Department of Political Science is among the top 5 political science departments in Europe.

English as the Medium of Instruction

The language of instruction for all master’s, doctoral and non-degree programs offered by Central European University is English. Candidates whose first language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in English by submitting standardized English language test scores.

Latest News on CEU’s Status

On April 9, 2018, CEU announced  that it had signed an agreement with the City of Vienna to open a new satellite campus there.

CEU has since set up a U.S. site at Bard College in New York State. A Hungarian delegation inspected the New York campus in March 2018.

CEU is still waiting for its agreement with New York to be signed by the Hungarian government, prolonging a period of uncertainty over the Budapest operation.

If CEU is pushed out of Budapest, the university could move to neighboring Austria and make Vienna its new home.

As of the posting of this blog, CEU students and staff are unsure of what the future holds. The university’s fate remains up in the air.

Links to additional sources:

https://courses.ceu.edu/programs

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39493758

https://www.bbc.com/news/education-43300785

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-michael-ignatieff-fights-for-central-european-universitys-future-amid/

https://sciencebusiness.net/news/central-european-university-talks-open-campus-vienna

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/15/central-european-university-ready-to-move-out-of-hungary

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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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ACEI’s 5-Step Practical Guide in Helping Refugees and Displaced People without or limited Documentation

July 13th, 2018

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The displacement of people because of conflict/war and/or caused by environmental/political/economic crisis means that many may arrive at refugee camps or their adopted countries with little or no documents supporting their academic achievements.  At the 2016 NAFSA Region XII Conference in Palm Spring, CA, ACEI President & CEO, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert presented a session on this topic with focus on “Syria: Education in Crisis and Providing Pathways for Refugees.” In her presentation, Jasmin introduced ACEI’s five-step process, which serves as a practical guide when assisting refugees and displaced people.

                                                Assess the Overall Situation

                                                Reconstruct the individual’s academic history

                                                Gather documents

                                                Assess Competency

                                                Verify

Let’s take a look at each of the five steps recommended in this model:

Step 1. Assess the overall situation

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Assess the overall situation to determine if the claim for lack of documentation is legitimate (that is, is the source country at war or devastated by natural/environmental crisis that prevents the individual in securing his/her academic documents?). You may look at a variety of sources to obtain confirmation, such as:

  • Check the US Department of State website
  • Search Internet on recent news from official news sources
  • Email the institution and/or Ministry of Education in the source country
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in the source country
  • Contact the Embassy or Consulate of the country
  • Telephone the institution (seek the help of a native speak or someone fluent in the language)

Step 2. Reconstruct the individual’s academic history

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One way to obtain an understanding of your applicant’s predicament and academic achievement is by reconstruct their academic history.

  • Follow your general procedures (as you would all prospective applicants)
  • Require completion of an application
  • Require submission of official academic documents
  • Conduct an interview

Step 3. Gather Documents

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In the absence of complete academic documents, there are other types of documentation an individual may have in his/her possession that may include any of the following:

  • Gather any available academic and/supporting documents
  • Student IDs
  • Registration cards/enrollment slips
  • Any transcripts, certificates/diplomas even if incomplete
  • Copies of licenses
  • Certificates of professional standing/membership
  • State examinations certification
  • Proof of tuition payments/receipts from institution’s bursary
  • Sworn statements/affidavits from exiled faculty/school administration
  • Newspaper clippings/articles/announcements or printed lists of graduated students

Step 4. Assess Course Competency

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Assessment of an individual’s competency in a course or series of courses may be achieved through the following methods:

  • Interview by member of faculty
  • Assignment of special project
  • Challenge/placement examination

Step 5. Verify

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Finally, we need to verify and check everything that has been presented and collected to prepare a portfolio/dossier on the individual.

  • Confirm again the crisis situation in the country and institution with official sources (e.g. U.S. Department of State, Embassy of the country from which the individual originates)
  • Ensure that you have in-house expertise on the country/region in question and its education system
  • Compare and verify any document gathered against samples from the same country and institutions in your archives
  • Use social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter for your applicant and LinkendIn and Academic.edu for scholars from the conflict area
  • When in doubt consult with and seek advice of colleagues in your profession and/or reach out to external sources such as independent evaluation services (members of AICE-Association of International Credential Evaluators)

This is a dynamic guide and we welcome your comments and suggestions. Please share with us your experiences and any tips you may have on this subject so that we may consider adding them to the guide.

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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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10 Criteria to Consider for Outsourcing Your International Credential Evaluation Needs

June 22nd, 2018

checkers

In our previous blog, we wrote about the benefits of outsourcing international credential evaluations. In this week’s blog, we’d like to share with you the criteria you need to consider if your institution is looking to outsource its international credential evaluations.
With the need for increasing content and authenticity in the evaluation process comes the need for more education, training and experience on the part of the credential evaluator. Institutions seeking to outsource their international credential evaluations are advised to select one service or multiple services by requesting the following:

1. Membership

Is the credential evaluation agency an Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE)?

The Association of International Credential Evaluators is a non-profit professional association with unique set of criteria which employs a rigorous screening process in determining the eligibility of providers of international credential evaluation services to Endorsed membership. The AICE has published evaluation standards to which its members subscribe and conform to promote consistency and transparency in educational equivalency reporting.

2. Years of Operation

Does the credential evaluation agency have a proven record of experience in the field?

Find out when the agency was established and how long it has been in operation. Number of years of operation as a credential evaluation service provider demonstrates longevity and continuity in a field where fluctuations in the market due to economic and political events affects the solvency of a company and its ability to work with credentials from around the world.

3. Standards

What evaluation standards and procedures does the credential evaluation agency employ in evaluating and determining U.S. educational equivalences?

It is important to find out the standards the evaluation agency uses in evaluating credentials to derive at U.S. educational equivalences. Does your institution have any guidelines in place when assessing international credentials? Are the standards used by the evaluation agency in line with your institution’s? If your institution doesn’t have any particular standards on evaluating international credentials, we recommend you refer to the AICE Evaluation Standards for guidelines.

4. Experience

Request and review a profile of the evaluation agency’s executive and evaluation staff.

This information will help you assess the expertise and experience of the agency’s evaluation staff. It will also help you outline the methods the agency employs for its evaluators to receive continuous professional development.

5. Services

What types of evaluation reports are provided by the credential evaluation agency?

It is important to determine the different types of evaluation reports the credential evaluation service provides to see if they are able to accommodate your institution’s needs.

6. Required Documents

What criteria does the evaluation company have in place in accepting academic documents?

It’s important to find out whether the evaluation company accepts official transcripts directly from the source institution, or original (“first-issued”) documents in the student’s possessions, photocopies or scanned documents submitted by students, or transcripts received electronically from the source institution.

7. Processing Time

How long does it take for the evaluation agency to complete an evaluation?

The number of days an evaluation agency requires to complete an evaluation plays a significant part in the overall picture when a student’s application for admission is contingent on the evaluation report. You must determine the actual number of days it takes an agency to complete the evaluation and not the estimated time. For example, an agency may claim a 10-day processing time but in practice it takes 20 or 30 or more days to complete its evaluation reports.

8. Library/Information Resources

What steps does the evaluation agency take in maintaining a dynamic in-house library?

A credential evaluation agency and the evaluation reports it generates are as good as its reference library. Maintaining an in-house library is one of the most important criteria in qualifying for Endorsed Membership with the Association of International Credential Evaluators. An in-house library that has in its collection historic and current publications and reference materials is the backbone of a full-service reputable evaluation agency.

9. Website & Information

Does the evaluation company have a website that is user-friendly and informative?

A website serves as the portal to a company’s operation and services. An effective website must include information that is clear and transparent about its services, fees and procedures.

10. Customer/Client Relations

How helpful and knowledgeable is the evaluation company’s staff?

And, last but not least, building a relationship with an evaluation company where you are confident that your institution’s needs and those of your international students are not ignored but handled in a timely and professional matter is essential. It is good to call the evaluation company and see if you are greeted by a friendly representative able and willing to answer your questions. If you emailed the company, how soon was your email answered?

In closing, by selecting a reputable evaluation service with proven years of experience, you are ensured the most up-to-date evaluation standards and practices. Indirectly, outsourcing also gives you access to the evaluation service’s resources: its library, database, knowledge and experience, online tools, and training. Finally, building a relationship with a credential evaluation agency creates an understanding between the parties that allows the agency to incorporate any special institutional needs into the evaluation. An on-going relationship with an evaluation service leads to consistency in the placement of students over time and across educational systems. It also provides the institution with an expert resource to consult when questions arise about credentials and placement.

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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