Tag Archives: credentials

Cheating, Credentials Fraud and Misrepresentation in the Academic Space

June 16th, 2016

cheating

In the past couple of weeks, there has been a flurry of news reports on widespread cheating by international students at U.S. institutions. News reports also speak of unethical recruitment practices by agents overseas who for large sums of commissions recruit unqualified international students and even go as far as falsifying their paperwork to ensure admission to a U.S. college.

In this week’s blog, we would like to highlight these latest reports on cheating and misrepresentation with links to actual articles so you can read more.

 USA: Cheating at Public Universities

According to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis, public universities in the U.S. recorded 5.1 reports of alleged cheating for every 100 international students, versus one report per 100 domestic students. http://www.wsj.com/articles/foreign-students-seen-cheating-more-than-domestic-ones-1465140141

 Western Kentucky University: Student Recruitment Problems

An article in Inside Higher Education reported that Western Kentucky University removed a number of its graduate students in computer science who were recruited from institutions in India. The students were determined to have been under qualified and their prior academic learning was brought under question. WKU is blaming the recruitment agency it had contracted and is now requiring its graduate faculty to travel to India and vet the students as part of the recruitment process. https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2016/06/07/international-recruitment-failure-western-kentucky#.V1a55rknc2c.mailto

University of Iowa: Chinese Students and Cheating   

The University of Iowa suspects at least 30 Chinese students of having used ringers to take their exams. The case offers a look inside a thriving underground economy of cheating services aimed at the hundreds of thousands of Chinese kids applying to and attending foreign colleges. http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/college-cheating-iowa/

 CHINA: Jail sentences for students who cheat 

Students who cheat during this year’s university entrance exams in China risk for the first time being jailed, state media said on Tuesday, as the government tries to crack down on a pervasive problem for the highly competitive exams. Cheaters will face up to seven years in jail and be banned from taking other national education exams for three years under an amendment to the Criminal Law, the official Xinhua news agency said. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-exam-idUSKCN0YT1CK

Policy: Reporting Fraud in USA

Question: If you are an admissions officer, advisor or faculty at a U.S. college, an evaluator at a credential evaluation company, an examination officer at a state regulatory board, or HR manager, what is your institution/organization policy concerning cheating on examinations and/or counterfeit credentials (transcripts and/or degrees that have been falsified)? Do you have a mechanism in place in reporting fraud to law enforcement, USCIS/DHS, FTC, professional boards/associations?

We’d love to hear from you. Let us know of your experiences with credential fraud and how you address this problem.

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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Impact of a Trump Presidency on International Education

June 9th, 2016

international_trump

Having just returned from the NAFSA Conference in Denver, Colorado, the world’s largest convergence of international educators one had the sense of a shared mission toward global understanding and appreciation of student exchange, building bridges and partnerships that support study abroad and mobility of students. It was difficult to imagine that outside the convention center, somewhere on the presidential campaign trail, the sentiment expressed by the Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, as shared by his supporters was anything but similar or likeminded. In fact, Mr. Trump’s position on international students is quite the opposite; it’s more about burning bridges and giving everyone outside our borders the middle finger.

Things weren’t so anti-international student with Mr. Trump a year ago. In fact, back in August 2015, according to an article in Inside Higher Education, Mr. Trump had expressed his support for international students, who are here in the U.S. legally on student visas. He supported the program which allows the international students to remain in the country after graduation for an extended period in order to work. Here is what he tweeted about his feelings on this subject last year:

“When foreigners attend our great colleges and want to stay in the U.S., they should not be thrown out of our country.”

“I want talented people to come into this country — to work hard and to become citizens. Silicon Valley needs engineers, etc.”

Though his tweets of 2015 may be heartening and in line with my fellow NAFSAns, Mr. Trump’s support for international students has waivered and completely changed as evidenced by his new position on the subject. According to a March 2016 report by the Chicago Tribune: “If elected president, Donald Trump has pledged to scrap a work visa program that brings 300,000 student workers each year to the U.S. Among the businesses that would be forced to stop hiring foreign labor: Trump’s own.”  This pretty much goes against his 2015 tweet of “I want talented people to come into this country–to work hard and to become citizens.”

Obviously the anti-immigrant and international student rhetoric has been heard loud and clear around the world. The U.S., once the beacon of higher education, is being looked at with ambivalence by those seeking to study here if Mr. Trump is the next President. According to a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Sixty percent of prospective international students say they would be less likely to study at an American college if Donald J. Trump was elected president.”

Since we are living in a capitalist market economy, and Mr. Trump is all about helping the average American have a slice of the proverbial pie, it’s worth noting that before we toss the international students out with the baby and the bathwater, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce as reported by the Institute of International Education (IIE): “International students contributed more than $30.5 billion to the U.S. economy.” Let me repeat this number: $30.5 BILLION! That’s not some small chunk of change my friends, but a hefty sum of economic windfall which means that not only do our schools and colleges benefit, but so do all the services in the periphery. Think about the students who need to rent apartments and furniture, buy cars, purchase insurance, shop for clothes and school supplies, eat at restaurants, buy tickets to shows, concerts, movies, train/airplane/bus/metro, buy groceries, and the list goes on. Think about all the Americans this economic windfall helps by keeping them off the unemployment line and the government subsidies since they’ll have jobs. Why would a Presidential candidate want to put already employed people out of work? That’s what will happen if we turn away people from our land who want to come here to study. It doesn’t make sense, does it?  And guess what friends, while we wallow in self pity and blame the “other” for whatever economic straits we find ourselves in and close borders and build walls, our counterparts in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Scandinavia, Russia and even China and a slew of other countries which are offering degree programs in English and tempt internationals with free tuition are salivating at the bits to grab hold of the international student market which until now has favored the U.S. as its number one destination.

It is so painfully shortsighted to think the way Mr. Trump and his supporters are thinking. If I nod my head in bewilderment at the sheer idiocy of this mindset, I’ll soon have to resort to using a neck brace. Best way to end this rant is with an old saying ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you,’ or, how about another old favorite: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’

Sources:

http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors/Data/Economic-Impact-of-International-Students#.V1jZqVclcdU

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/08/21/republican-presidential-candidate-and-immigration-hardliner-donald-trump-sends

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-donald-trump-student-visa-20160314-story.html

http://chronicle.com/article/A-Trump-Presidency-Could-Keep/236662

Frustrated
Frustrated Evaluator
Guest Blogger

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Dispatches from NAFSA 2016 Denver, Colorado

June 2nd, 2016

NAFSA16

The 2016 NAFSA: Association of International Educators’ annual conference was held in Denver, CO from May 29 – June 3. I was told that this year the conference had about 9,300 attendees which is a lower than last year’s 10,000 plus that was held in Boston, MA.  But, this still is a healthy turnout considering it is next to impossible to run into the same person twice given the scale and scope of the venue.

Barely twenty minutes into my arrival in Denver four nights earlier, and I learn my uber driver is from Eritrea. He’d first told me he was from Africa but I asked him which country. He then told me he is helping his sister, a high school graduate in Eritrea, to come and study in the U.S.  This of course prompted me to tell him about ACEI and our international credential evaluation service. I gave him my card to pass onto her. He was so happy that I knew of his country and could be of help. Made me equally happy.

I spent my first official day at NAFSA with a visit to the exhibit hall known as the International Education Expo. The large hall was a vibrant hub of more than 400 institutions, service and technology providers, and suppliers from around the globe. It felt like being at a World Fair, and in a way it was; a world fair focused on education. Clearly the message that this conference invokes is that by providing and encouraging study abroad opportunities and supporting services we are not only helping open the minds and hearts, but building bridges and breaking down prejudices.

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The International Education Expo, NAFSA 2016, Denver, CO

The conference’s opening plenary address was given by David Brooks, the op-ed columnist for the New York Times. As a senior fellow at the Yale University Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Brooks often focuses on topics connected with higher education and international affairs. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend his address but heart it was inspiring.

The Wednesday, June 1st Plenary address was given by Bryan Stevenson who is recognized as a visionary legal scholar, advocate, and champion for social justice. He is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization committed to fair and just treatment for all people in the U.S. legal system. A quote from Stevenson’s address that I jotted down was that “we must do uncomfortable things to change the world through education.” If we want to see change, we need to get out of our comfort zone.

The Thursday, June 2nd Plenary address was given by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a journalist and author who focuses on the evolving roles of women throughout the world. She is a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations and writes frequently about empowering women in developing countries through economic investment.  A couple of quotes that are worth noting and remembering from her address include: “What binds us is more important than what divides us” and “education is the great leader…all of a sudden you’re in a world where there is no difference between you and them.” Couldn’t agree more.

One way to participate in NAFSA, besides an attendee, or as an exhibitor, is to be a presenter. I was fortunate to have been part of two presentations: 1) Credentials Fraud and Diploma Mills – A Global and Growing Problem, which I co-presented with Drew Feder from Credentials Consultants, in Houston, TX and 2) Fighting Back Against Misconduct in the Academic Space which I co-presented with Teresa Axe and Michelle Hampton of Education Testing Services (ETS), Princeton, NJ, and Jonathan Burdick from the University of Rochester, NY. Both sessions were well received with great questions from the audience. The session I presented on Credentials Fraud and Diploma Mills had more than 100 attendees and the room was filled to capacity, so much so that people were being turned away. Clearly, Credential Fraud and Diploma Mills are a hot and timely topic, as more and more bogus institutions continue to pop up offering fake degrees for a price duping the public. For those who may have missed the presentation and those who attended and interested to have a free copy of our PowerPoint, please go this link on our website.

Besides the wonderful and inspiring plenary speakers, NAFSA conference program offered a plethora of sessions making it next to impossible to see and hear everything. If only we could clone ourselves and be at more than one session at the same time!

All and all, the NAFSA annual national conference is a great way to establish new partnerships, participate in networking opportunities, learn something new (even for us old-timers) and most importantly reconnect with friends/colleagues you’ve known for many years. The opportunity of seeing colleagues face-to-face whom throughout the year you engage with by Skype/phone/ email, text and social media is priceless and what makes the conference worthwhile and memorable.

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L-R: Robert Watkins, UT Austin, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, ACEI, William Paver, FCES, Zepur Solakian, CGACC, Kirstin Baker, GPS.
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L-R: Jackie Chu, University of New Haven, Solakian, CGACC, Madjid Niroumand, OCC

It’s time to say goodbye to NAFSA and Denver and head back to Los Angeles. The good news is, next year, the conference will be in Los Angeles, our very own backyard!

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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10 Criteria to Consider for Outsourcing Your International Credential Evaluation Needs (and why ACEI is your trusted source!)

May 13th, 2016

checkmarks

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 a 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.

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. is an Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators.

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.

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. was founded in 1994 and is celebrating its 22nd year of service.

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.

As an Endorsed Member, ACEI adheres to the AICE Evaluation Standards in the preparation of evaluation of international credentials. Adherence to the AICE Evaluation Standards ensures consistency and transparency in evaluations and educational equivalence reporting.

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.

√ At ACEI, information on the executive team is available on the website and for its evaluation staff is available on request. The evaluation staff at ACEI are classified at the senior level which means they each bring with them more than 10 years of committed and continuous hands-on experience in evaluating international academic credentials.

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.

At ACEI, we provide three types of evaluation reports: Basic (General Document-by-Document) Report; Comprehensive Course-by-Course (with Grades, GPA, Course Levels) Report; Course Match Evaluation (Comprehensive Course-by-Course with Grades, GPA, Course Levels and Course Match). In addition, ACEI evaluation reports can be customized to meet an institution’s specific needs. For example, ACEI will include information such as Language/Medium of Instruction and certified true copies of official/ original academic documents submitted with the official evaluation report.

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.

The ACEI website identifies by country exactly what documents are required for evaluation and method of their submission. For some countries, ACEI strictly requires receipt of official transcripts directly from the source institution and from others, original documents to be provided by the students are accepted. Any original documents provided by the students are returned when the evaluation has been completed. Photocopies that have not been certified by the source institution are not accepted. Copies or scanned copies of documents are accepted for a preview but official/original documents are still required in order to prepare and issue an official evaluation report. Electronically transmitted official transcripts prepared by the source institution and released directly to ACEI are accepted for evaluation.

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.

At ACEI, we’re proud to adhere to our claim of completing evaluations within 7 business days. This is an unprecedented turnaround time, unmatched by any other evaluation agency in the U.S. ACEI will complete evaluations within 7 business day from the date of receipt of the completed application form, required official/original academic documents and fees. The processing time is only extended in the event the student does not provide the required academic documents, fees, or submits and incomplete application. ACEI also provides 2 RUSH services whereby an evaluation can be completed within 24-hours or 3-business days on receipt of the completed application, required documents, and fees.

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.

ACEI is proud of its comprehensive in-house library of print and electronic publications which include historic references as well as the most up-to-date publications on world education systems and international directories of institutions of higher education. ACEI in-house library also has in its archives thousands of sample educational credentials and evaluation reports to use as reference. The ACEI Database of evaluation reports and country profiles is another helpful resource for its evaluation staff.

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.

ACEI’s website provides detailed instructions on the application process, required academic documents for evaluation, types of evaluation reports, fees, methods of payment, processing time, and terms and conditions of service. The Frequently Asked Questions section of the ACEI website is also a helpful page to visit for supporting information.

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?

ACEI’s official hours of business are from 9:00 AM PST – 4:00 PM PST Monday through Friday. ACEI has a 24-hour, 7-days a week answering phone service to handle basic phone inquiries during its non-business hours. During our regular business hours, our representatives are available to answer any of your phone and email inquiries. All phone messages and emails are answered within 24-hours.

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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6 Benefits of Outsourcing Your Institution’s Credentials Evaluation Needs

May 7th, 2016

outsource

Unlike many countries in the world, the United States does not have a Ministry of Education or a centralized government body that oversees the country’s entire education system. The federal or national government of the U.S. does not have authority over education at any level. The task of evaluating the credentials of internationals mainly rests with private non-governmental agencies.

As the world’s leading host country of international students and scholars, institutions within the U.S. can either look into ways of funding evaluation services internally or outsourcing them to an evaluation agency. Some educational institutions—typically with a large international population—have a tradition of providing international credential evaluations as part of the admissions process and are fully equipped to do so. Others, however, do not have an evaluation process in place and yet face increasing numbers of students and immigrants who have studied outside the U.S. For the latter, outsourcing foreign credential evaluations can be an excellent and helpful option.

The pros of doing evaluations in-house by some institutions appear to be based on the belief that they have control over the process from start to finish, that their equivalency decisions are consistent, and that they are able to reach these decisions based on the knowledge they have of their institution’s policies. Many of the deterrents or cons to preparing credential evaluations in-house are financial, lack of experienced evaluators and access to a robust reference library containing historic and current reference material and publications on world education systems.

The benefits of outsourcing your institution’s international credential evaluations can be summarized as the following:

  1. Savings – If the student obtains and pays for an evaluation provided by an evaluation service, it costs the institution nothing. In addition, the cost for an evaluation which is between $95 – $185 is a miniscule faction of the cost the student will have to pay for tuition at the institution but the benefits to the student are ten fold in that they may receive transfer credit for their evaluated coursework and/or be admitted to an advanced program based on their previous studies and avoid having to start their education over. In the case of an individual seeking employment or professional certification, the cost for the evaluation is also a miniscule fraction of what their future earnings will be based on the employment they are able to secure and/or the license they will receive to practice their field.
  1. Time – The time dedicated to evaluating credentials which requires the vetting of the documents and verifying their authenticity, researching the education system to determine the status of the institution, length and level of the program studied, grading practices, and course description can be directed to focus on the other critical tasks in the admission office.
  1. Resources – The resources that would have gone into creating an evaluation department which includes hiring and training of personnel, funding continuing education, building a resource library, tracking changes in educational systems, verifying the authenticity of documentation, collecting and maintaining a database of documentation and evaluations, will be available for recruiting, selecting, admitting, and advising students.
  1. Multi-Purpose – Both the international candidate and U.S. institution receive an objective evaluation of the individual’s academic achievement that can be used in the future by the candidate for purposes such as immigration, employment, graduate or doctoral study at another U.S. institution, or professional licensing.
  1. Manage Risk – Protecting your institution or organization from fraudulent documentation and misrepresentation that can jeopardize reputation and accreditation. By allowing experienced professionals with in-depth knowledge of world education systems and hands-on experience of evaluating academic credentials you will protect your institution against fraud.
  1. Access to Expertise – An indirect benefit of outsourcing your international credential evaluation needs is that it gives you access to the evaluation company’s resources such as its knowledge and experience, online tools and training.

The continued flow of internationals coming to the U.S. for further education, career and economic advancement necessitates the evaluation of their academic credentials. 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.

In our next blog we will share what criteria you need to employ when selecting a service to outsource your international credential evaluations.

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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Happy 22nd Birthday ACEI!

April 1st, 2016

Today, we celebrate ACEI’s 22nd anniversary. And, this is not an April Fool’s joke! We are incredibly grateful for the trust and confidence placed on us by all our institutional and organizational clients as well as our international candidates who show their support through their referrals.

For those who may not be familiar with ACEI, I’d like to provide highlights of what we do and who we serve.

  • ACEI was founded and incorporated in the State of California in 1994.
  • ACEI is a Charter and proud Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators, a leading professional membership association which approves and endorses private organizations providing international credential evaluation services after a rigorous screening and vetting process.
  • ACEI offers evaluations of international academic and professional credentials of individuals who have studied outside the U.S. and need statements of academic equivalence.
  • ACEI evaluation reports are recognized by U.S. schools, colleges, universities, state regulatory boards, professional associations, employers, state and federal agencies.
  • ACEI has served tens of thousands of international candidates seeking evaluations of their academic credentials.
  • ACEI offers comprehensive course-by-course evaluations which include listings of subjects/courses, credits/units of credit (for post-secondary education), grades and grade point average, and course levels.
  • ACEI evaluations are based on official/original academic documents issued by the source institutions.
  • ACEI evaluations are prepared within 7 business days from the date the application and required documents are received.
  • ACEI provides RUSH processing for those applications that are to be expedited.
  • ACEI evaluation reports are released either electronically to the U.S. institution/agency for which it is intended or issued on transcript security paper and released by post.
  • ACEI provides a Translation Service.
  • ACEI business hours are from Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM PST. During our regular business hours, applicants and institutional clients can communicate with our Client Relations Officers by phone or email. Even during our non-business hours, applicants and clients have the benefit of speaking with live and helpful client service representatives. No automated answering machines!
  • ACEI senior evaluators have and continue to contribute as presenters at regional, national and international conferences on international education and to publications on country specific education topics.
  • ACEI provides webinar and e-learning programs on international credentials evaluation, updates on education systems from around the world, and reports on trends in higher education from student mobility, recruitment, to innovative approaches in teaching methodology.
  • ACEI issues a free monthly newsletter “The Report.”
  • ACEI remains engaged through social media sites as Facebook, Twitter and through its weekly blog “Academic Exchange.”

The above are a few highlights of ACEI’s achievements. 22 years of service is definitely not a joke. It has taken commitment, passion for our profession, dedication to quality and integrity in our evaluation, due diligence, and plain old hard work that has kept the ACEI engine purring and humming through the years. And, we couldn’t have done it without the help of loyal and dedicated individuals who make ACEI a socially conscious company where the bottom line isn’t just about profits, but how we treat our employees, our clients, but the community as a whole.

I’d like to recognize the services of the following individuals who help make ACEI a model for excellence and integrity:

Brian Aguilar
Client Relations Officer

Soheil Askarian
IT Specialist

Mary Baxton
Senior Credential Evaluator and our Latin American Specialist

Scott Brown
Client Relations Officer

Sajin Gacina
Senior Credential Evaluator and our Eastern European Specialist

Matthew Fisher
Senior Credential Evaluator and our Middle East Specialist

Behnam Heshejin and Grace Morillo
Accounting Service

Jennifer Hutnich
Senior Credential Evaluator and our African and Western European Specialist

Katherine Kang
Senior Credential Evaluator, and our South East Asia Specialist research and investigative analyst extraordinaire

Nora Khachetourian
Director of Evaluation & Translation Services and our Editor-in-Chief

Alex Martinez
Client Relations Officer

Yolinisse Moreno
Communication and Marketing

John Riley
Social Media Manager

George Renfro
Web Master

Alan Saidi
Senior VP & COO and uber senior credential evaluator

Sal Sarhangi
IT Guru

Scruffy
ACEI’s Resident Feline and Stress Relief Manager

scruffy
Photo Credit: Brian Aguilar; Graphics: Yoli Moreno (!)

William (Scottie) Thompson
Administrative Assistant with a big heart

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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5 Highlights of Events in Education from ACEI and Around the Globe

November 5th, 2015

news

Since our last blog a week ago, a great deal has happened in the world of education, both on the national and international level. We’d like to share a few of the events that have occurred this week that we will continue to report on through our blog Academic Exchange and our monthly newsletter, The Report. Here are a few highlights of what just occurred:

The Colorado Board of Education Ousted
news2

If you recall, last year students and their parents in Colorado protested the decision by the members of the Colorado Board of Education that was set to revise the Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum so that it reflects “the positive aspects of the United States.” The protests drew national attention and this week we learned that Coloradans in a recall election ousted the members of the Colorado Board of Education. For more on this story click here: http://goo.gl/JeBVom

Diploma Mills and Fake Degrees: A Global Problem and Threat
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Last week at the NAFSA Region XII Conference in Honolulu, HI, ACEI’s President and Founder, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, presented an engaging and informative talk on Diploma Mills; a billion dollar criminal industry with hubs not only in the United States but around the world. She shared examples of bogus diploma mill providers and those who had intentionally purchased such degrees to secure high level positions at the state and federal level in the U.S. and officials in government positions in other parts of the world. She demonstrated that the problem is not unique to the U.S. but is a global underground network which continues to survive because of lack of enforcement and lax laws. Jasmin will be offering a webinar on this topic on December 5, 2015. For more information, please sign up here: http://www.acei-global.org/homepage-webinars-presentations/

Brazil Faces Challenges with its National Entrance Examination
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There are about 8 million students this year preparing to participate in the ENEM (Exame Nacional do Ensino Medio), Brazil’s National High School Examination which is organization by the Ministry of Education. These 8 million students are competing for approximately 250 thousand places in the federal higher education system. Though, the ENEM was originally set up to assess the quality of secondary-level education in Brazil, it has now evolved into an admissions test to the main federal universities and other public institutions. The limited number of places available as compared to the number of students competing for them is predicted to be the cause serious challenges for the country. For more on this story click here: https://goo.gl/fRjpn9

Defending Affirmative Actions
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Colleges are arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of Affirmative Action. November 2, 2015 was the last day to submit briefs to the Supreme Court on a key affirmative action case. The following groups have filed briefs in support of protecting Affirmative Action: American Council on Education, accreditation boards, faculty groups, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, the College Board, the Law School Admission Council, and the National Association for College Admission Counseling. For more on this story click here: https://goo.gl/ZBzchi

The Virtual Classroom and Future of Higher Education
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As part of an on-going series of webinars, ACEI recently provided a one-hour webinar on on-line education. The ever changing landscape of education requires a closer look at the present state of our education system so we can explore new strategies to increase student engagement and lower student attrition. Our guest presenter, Melanie Bryant, an accomplished educator with a passion for technology, shared her own personal experiences as a young student in the public school system and then as a teacher in public schools, and now as an on-line instructor and Director of the Professional Business Program at Laurus College. In the webinar, Melanie touched on several topics such as the traditional classrooms, expanding e-learning for education, training, informing, coaching, training learners to learn, teaching strategies that work and engaging learners in meaningful work. To stay abreast of our upcoming webinars, please sign up here: http://www.acei-global.org/homepage-webinars-presentations/

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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10 Takeaways from the 2015 NAFSA Region XII Conference in Honolulu, HI.

October 30th, 2015

Honolulu

The annual NAFSA: Association of International Educators Region XII Conference this year was held in Honolulu, HI and like years past, ACEI demonstrated its presence by having a booth at the Exhibit Hall and presented a conference session. Here are a few interesting facts about Oahu, NAFSA’s Region XII, the 2015 conference and our overall takeaway.

1. Oahu is an island in the mid-Pacific, part of the Hawaiian island chain and home to the state capital, Honolulu. Highlights of the city include historic Chinatown; the Punchbowl, a crater-turned-cemetery; and Waikiki, the iconic beach, dining and nightlife area. West of Honolulu is Pearl Harbor, site of the 1941 bombing attack and home to the USS Arizona Memorial

2. NAFSA is a professional association with a national and international membership for those working as international student advisors at U.S. public and private schools and institutions of higher education, as well as credential evaluation companies, international student recruiters, study abroad program providers, ESL schools, insurance companies, immigration lawyers and organizations offering services to international students.

3. Region XII of NAFSA convers the following States in the U.S.: California, Hawaii, and Nevada.

4. Over 500 members had registered and were in attendance at this year’s Region XII Conference. This is a healthy number, since a few years ago, barely 120 people had attended the conference held in San Diego.

5. Tuesday, October 27th, our Director of Communications, Yolinisse Moreno and I joined colleagues, Perry Akins Chairman of ITEP , Sharif Ossayran of President of Ascension Zepur Solakian of CGACC and Judy Judd Price, Deputy Executive Director of NAFSA, for dinner. Our conversation quickly veered into current events, politics, history and related books. We may not have solved world’s problems, but we each left with a list of must-read books!

6. My session “Diploma Mills & Fake Degrees: A Global Problem and Threat,” was scheduled on the program for Thursday, October 29th. I learned that a topic exactly like mine on Diploma Mills was being presented by another person a day earlier. Needless to say, having the same topic presented by two different presenters is something I’ve never experienced or witnessed before. Having served on NAFSA’s Southern District Region XII Committee and on its national conference planning team, I can say with confidence that programming two identical sessions was an absolute no-no. In fact, in such cases, conference programmers either choose between duplicate sessions on a first come, first served basis or invite both presenters to consider collaborating and presenting jointly.

7. Despite the duplicate programming issue, my presentation on Thursday was a success and those who attended, though not the large number that would have been expected had there not been a similar session presented the day before, found the talk highly informative and entertaining.

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Session on Diploma Mills & Fake Degrees presented by Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, President & CEO, ACEI

8. ACEI’s booth was also quite a hit with all of our fun island-themed swag intermingled with our serious literature on our evaluation, translation, and training services as well as our calendar of upcoming webinars. (To stay updated on our services and upcoming webinars, please click here.)

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Yolinisse Moreno, Director of Communications, ACEI

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View of the exhibit hall

9. Everyone’s favorite ACEI giveaway was our stress ball shaped like a pineapple. We had brought a couple hundred of them and they disappeared in less than 2 days!

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A parade of pineapples to relieve you of your stress!

10. Having Honolulu, HI as a conference destination was a great draw, though at times, dressed in our “casual” business attire, I felt like I was crashing someone’s family vacation! It was difficult to not stray from the conference hall. The warm breeze and our senses being bombarded by aromas of coconut infused sunscreens wafting by as we made our between hotel buildings to our meeting rooms were seductive temptations! However, despite the temptations of paradise, meetings and conference sessions were very well attended as was the exhibit hall where we reconnected with colleagues and regular clients of ACEI and made new connections. We look forward to next year’s Region XII conference in Palm Spring, CA.

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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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Detecting Fraudulent Academic Credentials

June 18th, 2015

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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 to consider when evaluating international academic credentials.

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

• 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?

• Does the document include a stamp “not to be released to student’ or “confidential,” yet it is provided by the student?

• 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 not eliminate fraud.

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

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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13 Facts about the Bologna Process

May 14th, 2015

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The 2015 Ministerial Conference and Fourth Bologna Policy Forum recently took place in Yerevan, Armenia, on May 14 and 15, 2015. Here are some facts about the Bologna Process that highlight the progress it has made to date and problems and challenges to overcome.

Bologna Process Defined

1. The Bologna Process is named after the Bologna Declaration, which was signed in Bologna, Italy on June 19, 1999 by ministers in charge of higher education from 29 European cities.

2. The Bologna Process is a European reform process aiming at establishing a European Higher Education Area by 2010

3. Today, the Bologna Process unites 47 countries which are all part to the European Cultural Convention.

4. The Bologna Process also involved European Commission, Council of Europe and UNESCO-CEPES, as well as representatives of higher education institutions, staff, students, and employers and several organizations involved in quality assurance. For a list of countries and organizations participating in the Bologna Process, please click on this link: http://bit.ly/1IDtH0q

5. The main mission of the Bologna process is to facilitate student mobility and academic exchange amongst participating countries by offering comparable degrees organized in the bachelor, master and doctorate model of higher education.

6. The European credit transfer and accumulation system, known as ECTS, is part of the Bologna process of the three-cycle degree structure in its effort to make mobility and recognition of studies easier.

Challenges and Problems

7. Disparities exist both within and between countries and regions that have adopted the Bologna Process. Not all countries are moving in the same direction at the same pace.

8. The three degree model is not always used in a coherent way, especially in fields such as medicine, teacher training or law.

9. There is a lack of consistency in how ECTS credits are used especially in master’s degree programs where designating credits for student-centered learning remains unclear.

10. Students continue to face problems of having their degrees recognized by other countries that have adopted the Bologna process. According to Tibor Navaracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, “…by 2020, 20% of students will be mobile during their studies. Problems of recognition of foreign degrees persist: students (almost one in 10, according to one Bologna report) find they cannot continue their studies from bachelor degree in one country to masters in another, despite the – on paper, at least – comparable degree structure throughout the European Higher Education Area.”

11. The degrees appear to not be providing graduates the skills needed to prepare them for future careers.

12. Higher education in some of the countries is still not easily accessible for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

13. Not all countries have embraced digital technologies and their potential in transforming learning and teaching techniques.

Given the significant progress made and the problems observed, it would be interesting to see how the recent Ministerial Conference in Yerevan plans to resolve these challenges. What goals and reforms will be decided on to help give the Bologna Process the boost it needs to move forward and remedy the shortcomings witnessed in the past 20 years?

Helpful Links:

http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/hogeronderwijs/bologna/about/
http://www.coe.int/T/DG4/HigherEducation/EHEA2010/BolognaPedestrians_en.asp
http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20150506110025327

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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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