Tag Archives: higher education

5 Common Types of Non-Official and Illegitimate Academic Documents

February 07, 2013

Binded Document

When evaluating academic documents from around the world, ensuring their authenticity and legitimacy is the most important step. An official academic document, e.g. transcript, certificate, diploma, degree, is one that has been received directly from the issuing/source institution. It must bear the institution’s seal, logo, date, and an appropriate signature.

What makes a document illegitimate or non-official? Here are 5 of the most dubious types of documents:

1. Counterfeit or Fabricated documents – These documents are made up to represent official documents from legitimate or non-existent institutions and in some instance they use stolen letterheads.

2. Forged or altered documents – Official, legitimate documents that have been tampered and altered usually by omission, erasers, deletions, additions, or changes. For example, the transcript may show an entry with a typeface that doesn’t match the typeface of other text on the document.

3. Creative translations – These are actual “translations” of foreign-language documents that embellish, fabricate, and provide misleading information. For example, a secondary/high school diploma from Argentina is called “Bachiller,” but the translation translates it into English as “bachelor,” which is misleading.

4. Inside jobs – These are very difficult to detect on initial review as the documents are actually produced by an unscrupulous employee at the institution for a fee.

5. Degree or Diploma Mills – According to Allen Ezell in “Accreditation Mills,” a degree mill is an organization that: “awards degrees without requiring its students to meet education standards for such degrees; receives fees from their so-called students on the basis of fraudulent misrepresentation and/or makes it possible for the recipients of its degree to perpetrate a fraud on the public.” The academic studies the degree or diploma mills purport to represent are based on fabricated information.

For more reading on this topic, we recommend the following published sources:

Accredited Mills, by Allen Ezell, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, Washington, DC. (2007)

Bear’s Guide to Earning College Degrees Non-Traditionally, by John B. Bear, Ph.D., C&B Publishing, Benicia, CA, USA. (1994)

Better Translation for Better Communication, Commission of the European Communities, 1983, Pergamon Press.

Guide to Bogus Institutions and Documents, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, Washington, DC. (2006)

Misrepresentation in the Marketplace and Beyond, Ethics Under Siege, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, Washington, DC. (2007)


Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc.


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20 International Education Hubs: A Global Movement

December 13, 2012

Education Vector Word Cloud

It used to be that if, for example, a student from Malaysia, Singapore, or Indonesia wanted to earn a degree from a university in the United States or the United Kingdom he/she had to attend the university in the county where it was based. But that’s no longer the case. More and more countries are seizing on higher education as way of making it more international, affordable and accessible. Aspiring students seeking a degree from Yale University or MIT or University of Glasgow will no longer need to fly out to the U.S. or U.K., instead they can attend one of the global education hubs that are fast becoming a preferred international destination for students.

What is an “education hub?” According to Global Higher Education, an education hub is a “designated region intended to attract foreign investment, retain local students, build a regional reputation by providing access to high-quality education and training for both international and domestic student, and create a knowledge-based economy…include different combinations of domestic/international institutions, branch campuses, and forming partnerships, within the designated region.”

Competition amongst countries set on establishing global education hubs is fierce and Asia seems to be leading the movement. Some countries pushing forward with plans to be an education hub see it as a cost-effective way for students in the region to receive quality education while some higher education authorities question whether some hubs will be successful or may simply be a fad likely to fizzle and fade. It’s too early to tell. Several of the education hubs already in operation are in countries with proven experience in education-related projects but there are also some little-known aspiring hubs forming which are interesting to watch. There are probably some new hubs being launched as we speak.

Below is a list of 20 education hubs we’re aware of that include the already established, those which are concepts in the making and some up-and-coming ones (#s 15-20):

1. Abu Dhabi http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
2. Dubai Knowledge Village/Dubai International Academic City http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
3. Dubai International Financial Cityhttp://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
4. Dubai Healthy Care City http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
5. Dubai Silicon Oasishttp://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
6. Bahrain http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
7. Kuala Lumpur Education Cityhttp://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
8. Iskandar (Malaysia) http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
9. Singapore’s Global Schoolhouse http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
10. Incehon Free Economic Zone (South Korea) http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
11. Education City (Qatar) http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
12. Republic of Panama – City of Knowledge http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
13. Jeju Global Education City (South Korea) http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/
14. Songdo Global University Campus in the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) (South Korea) http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
15. Doha (Qatar) http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/
16. Manama, Bahrain http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/
17. Fort Clayton, Panama http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/
18. Colombo, Sri Lanka http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/

19. Bangalore, India http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/
20. Bhutan’s Education City http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/

It’s too early to gage the effectiveness and success of these education hubs, but it goes without saying that Western countries, once the destination point of international higher education, are keeping an eye on this global phenomenon and most probably taking notes and learning new strategies. This new approach to bringing the best of the West to the East certainly takes the international mobility of students and the globalization of credentials to another level.

Website to check out for more information on each of the above countries:

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI

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Importing Grade Inflation? – Credential Evaluation Economics

October 04, 2012

balance scale

Are you helping import grade inflation from abroad? Many colleges, universities and licensing boards in the U.S. unknowingly encourage artificial inflation of international students’ grades by accepting questionable credential evaluations. This is a troubling issue to many comparative education researchers because of the way the foreign credentials evaluation industry works in the U.S. Let me explain:

Because many U.S. institutions refer international applicants to credential evaluation services, the true de-facto standards for analyzing foreign academic credentials are shaped by each U.S. institution’s decision about which evaluation services to accept. For many years, U.S. institutions and evaluation services successfully self-regulated in this environment, sharing and comparing research and creating a generally consistent standard for evaluation decisions. However, while the number of international applicants is growing, the self-regulated balance in U.S. credential evaluations is becoming increasingly threatened.

In recent years, a small number of evaluation services, including at least one very large provider, have started to deviate significantly from generally-accepted evaluation decisions in ways that seem blatantly more “generous” to certain groups of international students. While an evolving understanding of comparative education does require some disagreement among the community, a private entity’s dramatic shift towards evaluation results that inflate U.S. degree and grade equivalency recommendations appears to be motivated mainly by short-term financial profit.

Here’s the problem – if U.S. colleges, universities and professional licensing boards decide to accept evaluations from providers that inflate students’ degree recommendations and grades, the dishonest evaluator will win! Of course students will flock to an evaluation service that recommends consistently higher levels of education than its competitors. Consumers should always be able to shop around for lower prices or better service, but students should probably not be able to pay for artificially inflated credential evaluation results.

So what’s the solution? U.S. institutions need to be more cautious when accepting foreign credential evaluations. Colleges, universities, licensing boards and others should be very comfortable with an evaluation service’s personnel and methodology before accepting their evaluations. Additionally, currently accepted evaluators should be periodically reviewed to ensure continued best practices.

Here are two very helpful resources : “Guide for Selecting a Foreign Credential Evaluation Service,” by the NAFSA: Association of International Educators and “An Admissions Office’s Guide to Foreign Credential Evaluations” by the Association of International Credential Evaluators.

Most reputable evaluation services have not compromised the integrity of their evaluation methods, and some evaluators such as the members of the Association of International Credential Evaluators even make concerted efforts to share research and form consensus decisions. My company, Credential Consultants, is promoting evaluation consistency by collecting and organizing comparative education research as a comprehensive resource for those in the community. I encourage admissions officials at U.S. institutions to reach out to evaluators and get to know the people behind the “due diligence”. Many of us are happy to answer questions and get to know you as well.

Drew Feder
Acting President & Co-Founder
Credential Consultants, Inc.

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5 Reasons Why USA is the Top Choice for International Students

September 20, 2012

Statue of Liberty

According to a June 27, 2012 post by Study in the USA, “in the 2009/2010 academic year the number of international students in the USA rose by 3% to an all-time high of 690,923.” The U.S. continues to be the top choice for international students who want to continue their studies and broaden their experience.

As the former Director of University Placement Services at ELS Language Center (USA) and EDWAM Services Institute and AFME/AMIDEAST (Iran), I helped place thousands of students from around the world at U.S. colleges and universities to pursue undergraduate, graduate and advanced degrees. There are many benefits to studying in the U.S. and here are 8 reasons why international students choose to study in the United States:

1. Academic Excellence
The United States has one of the finest systems of higher education in the world. Its many different institutions offer academic and practical studies in almost any subject, at all levels, and for all types of student. U.S. universities also provide some of the world’s best professional degree programs in Engineering, Business Administration, Communications and Computer Science where students have the opportunity to work directly with some of the finest and best minds in their field of study. In addition, U.S. degrees have worldwide recognition for their excellence.

2. Flexibility
There is some flexibility in undergraduate programs where you are able to find a wide variety of courses to choose from to meet the requirements for the academic degree you are studying. Also, undergraduate programs allow flexibility to transfer to different institutions and switching your major field of study if you have a change of mind. If you know what you want to study, you can complete a “double major,” and cover two academic fields which you complete within the normal four years of study. And, if you’re “undecided,” you have time to make up your mind and pick a major (field of study) as you complete a variety of subjects in the first 1-2 years under the “liberal arts” requirements of the bachelor’s degree.

At the graduate level, you will be able to tailor your coursework to meet your specific academic goals and needs. You can select topics for a graduate thesis or dissertation based on ideas that are important to you and of interest to you and your country.

U.S. institutions also offer flexible entrance dates: Fall, Winter Spring or Summer with wide range of application deadlines (1-8 months before expected date of entry).

3. Experience American College Life & Travel the US
One of the perks of attending a U.S. college or university is the vibrant campus life you’ll be able to experience through a variety of non-academic activities available to help you get involved. You could run for a position in student government, write for the university newspaper, or join one of the many social or academic clubs available on the college/university campus. You could even cheer your university’s teams from football, basketball, baseball, or soccer!

The size of the U.S. with its great diversity in geography and culture offers international students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel and see the country during long university summer holidays. The international students offices on U.S. campuses also arrange programs such as holiday trips and host family stays that provide students immersion into American family life and culture.

4. Technology, Research, Teaching and Training
One thing universities in the U.S. pride themselves on is being on the forefront of technology. You can be sure that even if you’re not pursuing studies in the sciences or engineering, you will still have access to the latest technologies available on campus. This exposure will provide you with opportunities to become skilled in using cutting-edge technology to help you with your research, staying connected with other researchers, teachers and experts in your field on a global level.

At the graduate level, students who wish to help finance their education are able to acquire valuable experience through teaching and/or research. This is because many graduate programs at U.S. institutions provide training and teaching opportunities to help students become teaching assistants to undergraduate and/or research assistants on special projects related to their field of study.

5. Internationalization and Global Marketability
Education is a valuable commodity and international students who have earned degrees from U.S. colleges and universities find that they are sought after by employers for their wide range of knowledge and experience. As more U.S. companies seek to have a stronger presence in the global marketplace, they look to hiring individuals whose language skills and education helps them communicate, negotiate and conduct business across different cultures. International companies too look at recruiting from the pool of strong international student graduates of U.S. institutions for the same reasons as their U.S. counterparts. Employers value international student job applicants with and those with overseas work experience. International students in the US have the opportunity to gain work experience during their studies and can work in the US for up to one year or two years (for science and engineering students) after graduation in the Optional Practical Training scheme.

With over 4,500 colleges and universities, the higher education system in the U.S. offers something for everyone. No matter what your educational goals may be, you will be able to find a college or university that provides the particular field you want to study. In fact, you’ll probably find several colleges or universities to choose from!

Nora S. Khachetourians
Executive Director, ACEI, Inc.

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5 Things to Know about U.S. Community Colleges

September 13, 2012

City College of San Francisco 07

Many individuals and groups overseas seem to have a distorted view of U.S. community colleges thinking that their academic programs are inferior to those offered by four-year colleges and universities. In fact, even our visa officers at U.S. embassies seem to have a skewed opinion of community colleges when it comes to approving visas to international students holding acceptance letters from U.S. community colleges. It’s time that we explore the nature of community colleges and the benefits of obtaining a community college education.

Here are 5 things to know about a community college:

1. Academic Institution – A community college is an academic institution committed to higher learning just as a traditional four-year college or university. In the United States, community colleges (also called junior colleges, technical colleges or city colleges) are mainly two-year public institutions granting certificates, diplomas and Associate’s degrees. They also offer continuing and adult education programs.

2. Affordability – Community colleges are an affordable way to get access to university-level studies. The cost per credit hour for courses offered at community colleges is less than traditional universities. Many students planning on earning a Bachelor’s degree can benefit from the lower fees by opting to complete the general education requirements of the four-year bachelor’s by attending a community college first before transferring to a university.

3. Range of Courses and Programs – Community colleges provide a wide range of educational opportunities as well as courses related to trade and industry. The variety of courses offered makes pursuing studies at a community college attractive to students wanting to break into a career path which requires skills unique to a trade or job. But community colleges also offer courses satisfying the general education content of bachelor’s degrees so that domestic and international students can fulfill this component before continuing their studies at a four-year institution.

4. Transferability of Courses to U.S. four-year institutions – Community colleges provide academic courses specifically designed to meet the requirements for transfer to a four-year college/university should the student decide to use the credits earned toward a bachelor’s degree.

5. Flexibility – Community colleges are ideal for those attending to family needs or the working student who can’t afford to devote the time and energy needed to a four-year college and university program. Community colleges provide the working students and new parents with the opportunity of acquiring an education at a pace that makes sense and conforms to their busy schedule.

Whether you’re a local resident or an international student, set on acquiring and upgrading a skill/trade or earning credits to transfer to a four-year institution, the range and scope of programs offered make the community college a cost-effective transitional pathway to further education and independent living.

Useful links: Center for Global Advancement of Community Colleges http://cgacc.org/

Alan A. Saidi
Sr. Vice-President & COO, ACEI, Inc


Filed under Education, Human Interest

Higher Education in Iran: The Path to Freedom and…Singlehood

June 21, 2012

5th Day - 3V

Three years ago Iranians marched through the streets of Tehran and other major cities in Iran protesting the presidential elections, which soon became known as the Green Revolution. I remember watching news clips and YouTube videos of the protests and found myself moved by the faces of all the people marching, especially the young men and women. But what really moved me were the faces of the Iranian women, mostly in their late teens and twenties, dressed in jeans, and form fitting coats, their heads and hair covered under loosely tied scarves. Video after video showed these fearless young women standing up to the riot police even if it meant being struck by their batons, feet or hands. These women did not back away but continued to march and cried out for freedom. Many were arrested, jailed, and even lost their lives.

I left Iran in August 1978 at the precipice of a popular Revolution, which morphed into the Islamic Revolution, which then overthrew the Shah and ended the country’s 2500 years of monarchical dynasties. In those heady days of the Revolution, Iranian men and women from all walks of life had poured into the streets carrying anti-Shah banners and calling for freedom. I was a freshman at the University of San Diego as the Revolution unfolded in Iran and watched the events as a spectator would in the nosebleed section of a giant stadium. And I’m still watching from the sidelines from my perch in Southern California.

In today’s Islamic Republic of Iran, women are asking for freedoms which Iran’s theocratic government is finding difficult to address. It appears that when it comes to higher education, women account for nearly 60 percent of the total enrollment at Iranian universities. In addition, the increasing number of educated females with a global awareness of social issues (thanks to satellite television, the internet, and inexpensive foreign travel), has also made it difficult for these women to find husbands they consider compatible. At the same time, divorces in Iran have increased by 135 percent, pushing into the forefront a dramatic rise in numbers of women who are choosing to remain single.

According to an article I recently read in the NY Times: “Politicians and clerics are warning that an entire generation is growing up with values that are anathema to the traditional ones upheld by the state.” A leading ayatollah, Kazem Saddighi, said the following in a recent sermon: “Young people who are not married are nude, as marriage is like divine clothes to cover them.” But with more women earning higher salaries by virtue of holding university degrees and the continued rise in divorce rates, remaining single, renting an apartment and living alone and not with one’s family, is beginning to be seen as a mark of success. Interestingly, the young women embarking on a life of singlehood and pursuing careers have the support of their parents.

The Iran I grew up in was not against women. In fact, women were able to attain higher education, study abroad, hold positions in government and business, marry and raise families, or remain single. In fact, I remember a popular TV series called “Talagh” (=Divorce), which dealt with stories of marriages falling apart and the drama around it. What is interesting in today’s Iran is that it is the Iranian women, pushed into second or third class ranking as having less worth than a man per Islamic doctrine, subjected to strict dress codes and social restrictions, are the ones who are fanning the flames of change. Education, especially access to higher education, has been the Islamic regime’s goal from its early days. What the framers of the Islamic Revolution had not accounted for is this sudden increase in a very highly educated and outspoken female population. This super irony isn’t lost on me.

In the words of one thirty-something Iranian female quoted in the NYT article: “Society has no option but to accept us…I hope the state will follow.” I certainly hope so. It would be foolish otherwise.

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI, Inc.

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Strange Bedfellows: Questionable Alliances in Higher Education

March 29, 2012

University of New York Tirana

Tell me something, why do perfectly fine and accredited universities align themselves with shady start-ups in far-flung corners of the world? I ask this question because a week ago I came across an article in the NYT An Albanian College Relying on U.S. Cachet that speaks of exactly this very issue. Just the opening paragraph introducing this Albanian College as situated in a “dingy backstreet” in the Tirana, the Albanian Capital, is enough to give you the creeps. Yet, there it is: The University of New York, Tirana boasting an “arrangement with Empire State College, a division of the State University of New York system that is based in Saratoga Springs and is devoted to adult education and non-traditional learning.” Mind you, these “arrangements” are not unique to our accredited U.S.- based institutions. We are not alone; our counterparts in Britain and Australia are just as busy setting up “arrangements” with private education providers in the developing world.

An alumnus of the University of NY, Tirana, now attending Southern Methodist University in Dallas, complained that the courses he had taken were on a par with high school level subjects offered at an American high school. And that says a lot! It’s not about the content of courses and teaching staff, it’s the fact that a degree from an institution with an American-sounding name carries a great deal of cachet in a place such as Albania.

These so-called “arrangements” got a once-prominent academic institution, the University of Wales (founded in 1893), into hot water, so hot that it lost its accreditation in 2011 and was completely abolished. Thanks to an investigation by the BBC (nice to see journalism doing what it is meant to do–but I digress) which discovered that the University’s validation of programs offered by Fazley International College in Malaysia was being used to fraudulently award degrees and was even allowing students to obtain visas in order to work in the U.K.

Of course, these chummy arrangements are all about money. Students at the University of New York, Tirana pay more than $32,000 and for “an extra $100 or so per credit hour,” students taking classes in English can graduate and receive an American diploma. The same alum mentioned above says the following in the NYT article: “We didn’t even learn how to use a financial calculator. You are graduating with a degree in finance, and you don’t know how to use the calculator.” Here’s what Kevin Kinser, an expert on cross-border education at SUNY Albany is quoted as saying for the University of New York, Tirana, that the “connection with Empire State College is a way of developing legitimacy – a branding issue.” Someone’s definitely paying someone for the brand name or being associated with the brand.

I’m reminded of the saying “you are who you associate with,” and it seems it’s alive and well at our institutions of higher learning. Desperate for the almighty dollar, they are willing to give a part of themselves away, undermining their own credibility, and perhaps even contributing to their own demise. Let’s not forget what happened to the University of Wales.

The Frustrated Evaluator

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