Tag Archives: higher education research

Dispatches from 2019 EducationUSA Forum, Washington, DC

August 2nd, 2018


For the uninitiated, EducationUSA is a “U.S. Department of State network of over 425 international student advising centers in 178 countries. The network promotes U.S. higher education to students around the world by offering accurate, comprehensive, and current information about opportunities to study at accredited postsecondary institutions in the United States. EducationUSA also provides services to the U.S. higher education community to help institutional leaders meet their recruitment and campus internationalization goals. EducationUSA is your official source on U.S. higher education.”

Each year, EducationUSA hosts its Forum in Washington, DC bringing together representatives from U.S. higher education institutions and EducationUSA REAC (Regional Educational Advising Coordinators) and Advisors. For the first time this year, EducationUSA opened its registration to non-U.S. HEIs such as NGOs, agents, and third party service providers such as credential evaluation organizations. On the first day of the forum, as a first time attendee, I decided to attend the sessions offering the regional overviews where REACs and Advisors offered first hand information on the regions and countries they represent.

The overviews in most cases are general snapshots of the current state of a country’s economy, student population and trends concerning study abroad. Here’s a brief summary of some the key takeaways from the sessions I attended:

South American Overview

  • 10% of international students coming to the U.S. are from this region
  • There is a rise in the number of students coming to the U.S. from the Caribbean
  • Uruguay is showing a 25.8% increase in number of students it sends to the U.S.
  • Colombia receives a large number of students from the U.S. for study abroad
  • Colombia and Ecuador favor the U.S. as a study abroad destination


  • Impacted by the 2019-2010 local political changes
  • Growing middle class
  • English is a barrier
  • Has strong economy but not sustainable
  • Central and regional governments have put in place a scholarship initiative
  • Visits to Bolivia by U.S. HEIs yield immediate results


  • Students and their parents seek affordable options for their international education
  • Government offers scholarships mostly at the graduate level
  • Has strong local universities which are well-positioned for partnerships with U.S.
  • HEIs
  • COLFUTURO is an NGO set up to help with partnerships between institutions


  • Experiencing an economic recession
  • Changes in local education policies might make parents sent their children overseas
  • Other countries have a strong presence in Ecuador to recruit students
  • Coastal and highland regions are very different and require different recruitment strategies
    Enjoys a strong network of local institutions


  • Government invests in higher education
  • Quality of education at the high school level has improved
  • Increase interest from Peruvians to study abroad
  • Local economic environment has students concerned about their education and future employment opportunities


  • U.S. Embassy in Caracas is temporarily closed
  • Visas are issued at U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia
  • Venezuelans are applying for admission to U.S. HEIs while based in other countries

Southern Cone Region: Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay

  • Safety and security is not as much of a concern since their own regions have security issues
  • China is a big competitor, e.g. Confucius Institute
  • Canada, Australia, France, German and Portugal (focus on Brazil) are the other big players in the region
  • Foreign governments offer scholarships and affordable higher education
  • Student mobility from the southern cone regions of S. America is on the rise
  • Big trend is Brazil’s partnership programs at the Grade 10-12 levels.


  • Creation of the Math, Science, Technology, Innovation and Knowledge initiative in 2019
  • Chilean universities looking to internationalizing their campuses


  • Showing interest in internationalization and partnerships


  • Popular fields of study for its students studying abroad: Law (LLM), Social Sciences,
  • Business/Economics, Engineering, Computer Science and Design

Europe and Eurasia Overview
U.S. HEIs would need to highlight the following features of U.S. education to attract students from this region:

  • Liberal Arts education
  • Internships, Co-ops and OPTs after graduation
  • Financial incentives (e.g. merit-based or athletic scholarships)
  • The multicultural aspects of U.S. college campuses
  • Research takes place at the smallest and largest HEIs
  • Vibrancy of campus communities that provide a fully immersive experience
  • English language skill development

Additional takeaways:

  • Top majors favored by Ukrainian students include Business, STEM, and Law (LLM)
  • Germany, France, UK, and The Netherlands are the key competitors of U.S. as they offer more affordable higher education and have 3-year degrees
  • U.S. HEIs would need to attend more education fairs in Europe and show their presence
  • Hold webinars
  • Use alumni to help promote
  • There has been an increase of 40% in the number of Albanian students studying in the U.S. in the past 5 years and majority are enrolled at U.S. community colleges
  • Serbia is showing interest for study abroad
  • Russian students are supported by families who have funds to support their study abroad
  • 50% of Belgian students in the U.S. are enrolled in undergraduate programs, some are enrolled in short-term program and some are part of student-exchange and language programs. Why? Less time spent time from home.
  • Most popular short-term programs: England language
  • Countries with large number of ESL students: Switzerland, France, Germany, and Russia

I also attended the following sessions: East Asia & Pacific Region Overview; Advancing Institutional Partnerships in Europe and Eurasia; Recruiting in Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh; Recruiting in Francophone Africa. There is still one more day left before the EdUSA Forum ends, but for the purpose of this blog, I’ll stop here and hope to have more to share in a follow-up post.

Before I forget, Assistant Secretary of State, Mary Royce spoke at the luncheon yesterday. I best leave you with a link to the article written about her speech issued by InsideHigherEducation as I will not be able to do it justice. In a nut shell, Ms. Royce painted a disturbing picture of Chinese students studying at U.S. institutions. As the article asks: was hers a “welcome message or a warning?” Unfortunately, the attendees saw nothing welcoming about the message.

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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15 Facts on Impending Closures of 40% of Universities in Russia

April 23rd, 2015


According to a recent report by University World News Global Education, the Russian Ministry of Education and Science has announced that it will be closing a number of its universities and university branches by the end of 2016. These institutions are being shut down as part of a federal plan the Russian government has implemented for the development of education during 2016 to 2020. The government’s plan is to establish strong federal universities located in the 10 different regions in Russia.

Here are some highlights on these planned cuts:

1. At present, according to data from the Ministry, there are 593 state and 486 private institutions

2. According to date from the Ministry, the state universities have 1,376 branches and the private universities have 682.

3. Seven million students are attending state and private universities.

4. Two million of the students benefit from state-funded education which is about US$3,500 per student.

5. Number of Russian universities will be reduced by 40% by the end of 2016

6. Number of Russian university branches will be reduced by 80% by the end of 2016.

7. According to Dmitry Livanov, Russian Minister of Education and Science, the number of universities since the collapse of the USSR has increased extensively, especially in the number of private universities, as compared to the USSR period. He is quoted in the University World News Global Education as saying: “Unfortunately, the results of our monitoring showed that the quality of education provided by some of them is very poor.”

8. On March, 2016 the Ministry began conducting quality checks of the universities. Results are due on May 30, 2015.

9. Up to 100 universities will be subject to quality assessments within the new few months.

10. Majority of closures will affect private universities that have been determined to provide poor standards of education.

11. The cuts will also affect some state-owned universities.

12. Some of the closed universities, including their faculty and infrastructure, may be absorbed by other universities that are found eligible to continue their operations.

13. Faculty from the national universities have been promised by the Russian government that their salaries will not be cut and the same provision will apply to scholarships.

14. 53.5% of Russians have university degrees, yet, many Russian students, teachers and employers are dissatisfied with the quality of higher education in the country.

15. According to Education Minister Livanov, some of the institutions on the chopping block behaved as “offices for the sale of certificates that do not have an established training process and qualified teachers.”

Please stay tuned as we await the results of the Ministry’s quality checks mid to late this year.

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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Dispatches from Paris, France

May 02, 2013


No trip to Paris is complete without a stroll alongside the Seine to take in the sights and sounds of this charming city, paired with some café lounging and people watching, museum hopping, and in my case, exploring the City of Light by tracing Hemingway’s footsteps before he cheated on her with Spain and Cuba. It was propitious that I stayed in the Latin Quarter a stone throw away from the University of Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne, University of Paris Faculty of Law, University of Paris Faculty of Medicine and several Institutes of Higher Education in Fine Arts, Agriculture and Engineering. Dropping into these campuses and seeing the facilities and rubbing shoulders with hip philos standing on the sidewalks taking long puffs on their Marlboros (smoking is no longer permitted inside buildings) engaged in friendly and at times heated banter, walking past outdoor cafes, sandwich stalls and gyro stands on Rue de Mouffetard where inexpensive and tasty fare satisfies the college student’s budget was the visceral experience (albeit brief) I had of the life of a French university student.

Rue Saint-Jacques
Rue Saint-Jacques and the Sorbonne in Paris

University of Paris
University of Paris, Faculty of Law

Faculty of Medicine
University of Paris, Faculty of Medicine

My meeting with Celine Ouziel, Educational Adviser with Education USA at Fulbright Franco-American Commission in Paris and Patricia Janin, head of the American Section at Fulbright proved mutually enlightening. I learned of some of the problems French students have in obtaining original sets of their academic documents, when institutions tend to issue one set and will not reissue additional official copies and the lack of a cohesive approach in the U.S. to recognizing the classes préparatoires (two-year post-secondary program required for admission to the Grandes Écoles).


Like most things in life, nothing is static and the French education system, once regarded as one of the best in the world, is being questioned by French academics and teachers, and in the media, especially, on the question of the “level” of the baccalauréat examination. “Many academics complain that the baccalauréat these days is given away, and that this is a major cause of the high failure rate in the first year of university.” Source: http://about-france.com/primary-secondary-schools.htm The jury is out; French Ministers and civil servants claim that this is not the case and so the debate goes on.

Despite the grumblings from the academics and French media, when it comes to getting admitted to a university in France, the baccalauréat is the gold standard. But admission to a grande école, seen as “the peak of the education pinnacle in France, relatively small and highly selective “schools” (in the American sense of the word),” is not only the baccalauréat but completion of the two-year classes préparatoires at a Lycées (which in this respect, are also a part of the French higher education system). The Grandes Écoles “provide a cosseted higher education to the nation’s future elites – tomorrow’s “haut fonctionnaires” (senior civil servants), leaders of industry, top military brass, top politicians, engineers, physicists and others.” Source: http://about-france.com/higher-education-system.htm

The debate inside France continues to pit academics and media against ministries and civil service departments. In a meeting at the Fulbright office, I attempted to dispel myths on U.S. higher education, especially our community colleges and the myriad of benefits of attending a community college before transferring to a four-year university, as well as ACEI’s credential evaluation policies concerning the baccalauréat examination and the classes préparatoires for which we recommend some advanced standing credit. Our evaluation policies, in line with decades of established national guidelines, was welcomed, though at first it was met with surprise, especially where it concerns the credit allowed for the classes préparatoires. It seems the practices of a few U.S. universities with select admissions requirements (where no credit is considered for the classes préparatoires thus underestimating the value of the Grandes Écoles degree programs) have been interpreted as being the norm on a national level by those outside the country. Given that we have over 3000 colleges and universities in the U.S., each with its unique set of admission criteria, adhering to a perspective practiced by a select few does not imply a national standard. We all agreed to continue the discussion by organizing a webchat and a visit to the Fulbright office in the near future to speak about these issues with French students wishing to study in the U.S.. To be continued…stay tuned!

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI

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Turning Our Back On Education: Way to go America!

March 8, 2012

St. William Elementary School Olympic Week- Art & Culture Day

In a recent NYT article “Where the Jobs Are, The Training May Not Be,” Catherine Rampell reports that even though technical, engineering and health care specialists are in great demand in today’s weak job market, these fields happen to be the most expensive subjects to teach. “As a result, state colleges in Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Florida, and Texas have eliminated entire engineering and computer science departments.” The situation is so dire that Ms. Rampell writes: “At one community college in North Carolina –a state with a severe nursing shortage—nursing program applicants so outnumber available slots that there is a waiting list just to get on the waiting list.”

Why is this happening? For the past twenty-five years, the states have withdrawn from higher education and slashed financing for colleges during and immediately after the last few recessions. And even when the economy did recover, the states never restored the money that had been cut from education and now with the current recession the problem has been amplified.

According to Ronald G. Ehrenberg, the director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute and a trustee of the State University of New York System: “There has been a shift from the belief that we as a nation benefit from higher education, to a belief that it’s the people receiving the education who primarily benefit and so they should foot the bill.” Really? Is this what we’ve become as a people and as a nation? So the nurse graduate who received four years of education and practices as a registered nurse is the sole beneficiary of her education? What about the patients whom she tends to and the medical centers which use her services? Don’t they too benefit? How can we be so crass as to think that all that we do is for our own benefit and has absolutely no impact or ramification on the people around us, the community, the environment, the world? How dare we operate from such an ego-centric mindset?

In fact economists have found that higher education benefits communities even more than the individual with the degree. Let’s not forget the G.I. Bill which helped bankroll the college education of Americans following the post- World War II economic boom. An educated people help the economy grow faster and foster a more stable democracy and aid the neediest workers. By cutting funds, states reduce the ability for the poor to receive an education and more training to prepare them for skilled labor. They also limit access to the field such as sciences, engineering and health care that are most important to economic and job growth.

As an educator and one who deals with domestic and international students, I am dumbfounded as to how our country turns its back on these key educational programs. President Obama speaks for keeping America on the forefront of science and engineering so that we can remain competitive with the rest of the world, yet at the same time funding is taken away from the very programs that will train and nurture future scientists, engineers and health practitioners. What does this mean? It means that US would have to recruit its scientists, engineers, nurses and doctors from overseas, diminishing the chances of US students from pursuing studies in these fields and ultimately finding gainful employment.

So the next time xenophobia kicks in, and angry fingers are pointed at skilled and educated professionals immigrating to the US who’re filling engineering and health care positions, best we take a good look in the mirror. The problem is not “them” but “us” and our collective attitude and diminished respect for education and the teaching profession.

The Frustrated Evaluator


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