Tag Archives: international education

6 Facts about Foreign Credential Evaluations

September 15th, 2017

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We recently heard a report on CNN about foreign medical doctors who are unable to practice in the U.S. and are driving taxis instead. We frequently hear about the plight of legal immigrants in the U.S. who find themselves with little or no information on whether their education from their country of origin is worth anything in their new adopted country. Many simply assume they have to start from the beginning, take the GED, enroll in a college, or apply for and accept employment in jobs below their level of education attainment. Many are not aware that they can have their academic credentials evaluated to receive the approximate U.S. educational equivalence to help them with qualifying for employment, a professional license or admission to a U.S. college/university.

According the U.S. Department of Labor: “Qualifying education from colleges and universities in foreign countries must be evaluated in terms of equivalency to that acquired in U.S. colleges and universities. Applicants educated in whole or in part in foreign countries must submit sufficient evidence, including transcripts, to an accredited private organization for an equivalency evaluation of course work and degree. You must provide a copy of the letter containing the results of the equivalency evaluation upon request. Failure to provide such documentation when requested will result in lost consideration.”

Foreign credential evaluation is a process where academic credentials earned in an institution outside the U.S. is verified and converted into the U.S. educational equivalent. Foreign credential evaluation service providers are typically private for-profit or not-for-profit organizations. Some state licensing boards, U.S. colleges and universities and professional associations also prepare evaluations of foreign credentials for their candidates.

Here are a few facts about foreign credential evaluations:

  1. A foreign credential evaluation provides the approximate U.S. educational equivalence of studies completed at an institution outside the U.S.
  2. A foreign credential evaluation does not guarantee that a level of education completed in a foreign educational system results in the same educational outcome. For example, if an individual completed three years of studies at a university outside the U.S., the U.S. educational equivalence for the studies may or may not be deemed comparable to a degree.
  3. A foreign credential evaluation does not guarantee employment but it will provide the employer with confirmation whether the candidate has met the educational requirements for the position.
  4. A foreign credential evaluation does not imply that the individual is qualified to practice his/her profession. In order to practice a profession such as medicine, nursing, engineering, dentistry, architecture, etc., candidates who have had their foreign credentials evaluated must also sit for the licensing examinations as required by the State in which they intend to practice. However, the evaluation will provide the professional licensing board the information it needs to determine the candidate’s eligibility for licensure.
  5. A foreign credential evaluation does not guarantee automatic admission to a U.S. school/college/university or transfer of credit, as each institution has its own specific admissions and placement policies. It will, however, inform the institution as to the level of studies completed in order to determine eligibility for admission.
  6. A foreign credential evaluation does provide the individual an understanding of his/her education’s comparability to the U.S. system so that he/she can pursue their studies or seek employment in a field in the U.S. that is compatible with their education.

A foreign credential evaluation is similar to currency exchange, where the education completed in one system is converted to the education system of another. So, before an immigrant dismisses the studies they completed in their country of origin, having their academic credentials evaluated will be the first step to take as they begin this chapter of their life in a their new adopted country.

The U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of State, provide links to organizations that provide foreign credential evaluation services in the U.S. The NAFSA: Association of International Educators also provides guidelines on how to select a foreign credential evaluation service provider.

Since 1994, ACEI, which is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators, has been providing assistance to individuals from around the world with the evaluation of their educational credentials. For information on our credential evaluation service and requirements, please visit our website at www.acei-global.org or contact ACEI at +1-310-275-3530 or via email at acei@acei-global.org

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The Three-Year Bologna Bachelor’s Degrees: A U.S. and European Perspective

July 14th, 2017

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U.S. Perspective

At the invitation of Rafael Nevarez with the US Department of Education, Melanie Gottlieb, Deputy Director of AACRAO, and Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, Chair of AACRAO’s IESC, President of AICE, and President & CEO of ACEI, presented a session at the ENIC-NARIC meeting on June 26th in Copenhagen, Denmark. The topic of their presentation was the U.S. perspective on the 3-year Bologna compliant bachelor’s degrees. Joining Melanie and Jasmin was Allan Bruun Pedersen, Senior Adviser with the Danish Agency for Higher Education and Science who presented the European perspective.

The U.S. representatives shared the results of surveys that were conducted by the Council for Graduate Schools (2005/2006) and IIE (2008/2009) on the three-year Bologna-compliant degrees and the 2016 AACRAO-AICE survey. The key take-aways from the most recent survey was that the U.S. perspective is still evolving and that, based on institutional policies, it is split between two schools of thought: qualitative versus quantitative or benchmarking versus year counting.

The absence of a nationwide admissions policy for graduate studies and a lack of cohesiveness in policy even among departments within universities are the challenges facing a standardized approach in recognizing the three-year Bologna compliant bachelor’s degrees. In addition, there are various players other than institutions of higher education (e.g. state licensing boards, USCIS and employers within state and federal agencies) with their own set of requirements and criteria. The fact that not all Bologna-compliant countries are moving in the same direction at the same pace, that the three-year degree model is not always used in a coherent way, especially in fields such as law, teacher training and medicine, and the lack of consistency in how ECTS credits are used (especially in master’s degree programs where designating credits for student-centered learning remains unclear), pose additional challenges for educators and credential evaluators in the U.S.

But not all is doom and gloom, as survey results also show more U.S. institutions are becoming familiar with the three-year Bologna-compliant Bachelor’s degree and modifying their policies. The three different admissions models employed by US institutions of higher education—open admission, threshold admission, and holistic admission—lend themselves for flexibility and variety when it comes to accepting three-year Bologna-compliant degrees. A cursory search of institutional websites demonstrated that some U.S. institutions accepted the three-year Bologna-compliant Bachelor’s degree for graduate admission, some accepted the said degree but required completion of a one-year bridge program, and some accepted the degree holder but also placed emphasis on GPA, and performance on GRE/GMAT exams in their final admission decision.

European Perspective

The European perspective, as presented by Allan Bruun Pedersen, confirmed the survey findings shared by Jasmin and Melanie, in that there has been progress in accepting the three-year Bologna-compliant degrees in the U.S. but it has been slow. According to Allan, close to 50% of U.S. institutions of higher education sill do not accept a three-year Bologna-compliant degree for access to graduate studies.  The European perspective leans more toward benchmarking, qualitative rather the quantitative year counting model. And using the Lisbon Convention approach, three-year degrees are recognized based on the following qualifications: level, quality, learning outcomes, and workload. However, the Europeans are also aware of the double standard such an approach holds, especially where there is still controversy over three-year degrees from other parts of the world, e.g. the three-year Indian bachelor’s degrees.

The different educational philosophies between the U.S. and the European education systems was also recognized, especially where in the US general education is a key component in the four-year bachelor’s degree program versus the narrower subject specific European bachelor programs. There are still many European countries where a US high school diploma (with its broader range of subjects and often with less workload in subjects preparing candidates for university admission versus the European general upper secondary access qualification with fewer subjects and more workload in subjects) is not considered sufficient for admission to the bachelor’s degree programs and the U.S. bachelor’s degree (with its general education component and less subject specific courses in major/specialty) may not provide access to graduate degree programs.

It is essential for European institutions to understand and accept the differences in that the U.S. places a greater emphasis on quantitative recognition criteria where completion of general education courses as well as subject specific courses are a prerequisite for admission to U.S. master’s programs. And, that functional outcomes, whether the program completed meet the quantitative (that is number of years and credits) criteria required by a professional licensing board. There is a paradigm shift in European educational systems towards output oriented learning versus outcome oriented higher education and there needs to be acceptance that different pathways can lead to the same learning outcomes. The outcome of a degree is not just subject specific knowledge, but also more generic outcomes: the ability to communicate, analyze, and team work.  One aspect to be appreciated about the general education component of the US bachelor’s degree is that it also serves the purpose of generating broader competences than just the subject specific competences obtained through the three-year European bachelor’s degree.

In closing, we are asked to embrace the long tradition of transatlantic cooperation and student exchange within higher education and recognize the different admission systems (open vs threshold vs holistic) that require different responses. If an institution has adopted the open admissions model, then both sides can accept for admission the three-year Bologna-compliant degree (to US institutions) or the US four-year bachelor’s degree (to European institutions). If admission policies are more restrictive, candidates need to be allowed to apply for admission (access) to Bachelor’s degree programs and their eligibility to be determined in accordance to the same criteria as for national qualifications and reviewed on a case by case basis and not be automatically rejected.

The gaps and differences between the two systems may not be as large as perceived. By basing admission (access) on a broader range of criteria that takes into consideration both the quantitative and qualitative approaches and the longstanding history of cooperation and student exchange we will help support the mutual recognition and understanding of the U.S. bachelor’s degree and the 3-year Bologna-compliant bachelor’s degrees.

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

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2017 Annual meeting of ENIC and NARIC networks, Copenhagen, Denmark

June 22nd, 2017

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ACEI’s President & CEO, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert will be attending the 24th annual meeting ENIC-NARIC Network which will be held from June 25-27 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Ms. Saidi-Kuehnert will also be representing the Association of International Credential Evaluators, and the International Education Standards Council (IESC) of AACRAO as its Chair. She will be presenting a session on the U.S. Perspective on the 3-Year Bologna Compliant Bachelor’s degrees with Melanie Gottlieb, Deputy Director of AACRAO.

In this week’s blog, we would like to provide a brief profile on ENIC-NARIC and its role and purpose in the international education milieu:

ENIC Network (European Network of Information Centres)

  • The ENIC Network was formed by the Council of Europe and UNESCO to help implement the Lisbon Recognition Convention of 1997 and develop policy and practice for the recognition of qualifications
  • The Network is made up of the national information centres of the Parties to Lisbon Recognition Convention.
  • An ENIC is a body set up by the national authorities. While the specific competences of ENICs may vary, they will generally provide information on: the recognition of foreign diplomas, degrees and other qualifications; education systems in both foreign countries and the ENIC’s own country; opportunities for studying abroad, including information on loans and scholarships, as well as advice on practical questions related to mobility and equivalence.

NARIC Network (National Academic Recognition Information Centres)

  • The NARIC network is an initiative of the European Commission and was created in 1984.
  • The Council of Europe and UNESCO jointly provide the Secretariat for the ENIC Network.
  • The ENIC Network cooperates closely with the NARIC Network of the European Union.
  • The network aims at improving academic recognition of diplomas and periods of study in the Member States of the European Union (EU) countries, the European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Turkey.
  • The network is part of the Community’s Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP), which stimulates the mobility of students and staff between higher education institutions in these countries.

Stay tuned for a report on the ENIC-NARIC Network meeting in our next blog.

Source: ECNI-NARIC http://www.enic-naric.net/annual-meeting-of-enic-and-naric-networks.asp

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Dispatches from the NAFSA 2017 Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA: A photo journal

June 1st, 2017

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This week, NAFSA, the world’s largest association dedicated to international education and exchange, brought together a diverse and vibrant community of nearly 10,000 global leaders and colleagues at its Annual Conference & Expo right here in ACEI’s backyard, Los Angeles.

More than 107 countries have been represented in a setting that emphasized the message, “We build bridges, not walls.”

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Marina Maligana of NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education)
with ACEI Marketing Director, Laura Sippel

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Marina Maligana of NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education)
with ACEI President, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

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NAFSA Exhibition Hall

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NAFSA Exhibition Hall

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NAFSA Exhibition Hall

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NAFSA President Ester Brimmer

NAFSA President Ester Brimmer at the opening plenary spoke on how as international educator, we are part of the solution. “We need to stay calm and stay woke,” she said in light of the current political climate. “We need to building bridges, not walls,” she added. Question she posed to the conference attendees was whether the “U.S. will see itself as part of the global community or pursue the path of isolationism.” She stressed the importance of “keeping the U.S. an open and welcoming place.”

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NAFSA Opening Plenary Speaker Isabel Wilkerson

NAFSA Opening Plenary  Speaker Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of New York Times bestseller, “The Warmth of Other Suns.” Ms. Wilkerson gave a moving and inspiring speech and shared excerpts of the presonal stories she had gathered for her book from the African American communities who had migrated from the American south during the Jim Crow era to the North, Northeast, and as far as the West, Hawaii and Alaska. Ms. Wilkerson message was that “we are one species and we in this together, we are not the social constructs that are forced on us.”

At ACEI, we agree with NAFSA’s message of diversity and inclusion and we want to stay globally engaged and educated.

We will pledge to protect our core values, as Americans, which include freedom, opportunity, and welcome.

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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A New Internationalization Strategy

December 8th, 2016

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Continuing with our thread on the impact of a Trump Presidency on international education and internationalization as a whole, I found the blog recently posted by EAIE to be spot on. In the words of one of the authors of the blog, “… the task of regularly scanning the external environment to identify both opportunities and threats is now more critical than ever.”  This was most evident at the recent AIRC conference in Miami, FL and I’m certain that the discussion will only escalate in urgency in the months to come.

We can choose to look at the ramification of what a Trump Presidency may have on the future of international education in a negative light or its exact opposite. This new chapter in U.S. history may be just the wakeup call needed to reevaluate the way we have been operating. In fact, by shifting the focus to providing quality education (at the institutional level), and establishing standards (AICE is poised to be at the helm as far as credential evaluations are concerned with AIRC enforcing its certifications of agents/recruiters) we just maybe able to steer the ship into less turbulent waters. We can already see the negative effects of rapid unmonitored internationalization, where rules are broken, subpar or under qualified students are recruited, fraudulent documents are processed without vetting/verification/evaluation, and university reps compete for warm bodies overlooking principles/policies in order to meet the bottom line and generate tuition revenue.  Just look at the recent article in Reuters on how top U.S. colleges hooked up with controversial Chinese companies helped along by a former U.S. school board president and a former administrator from a liberal arts college in Vermont. The U.S. colleges indicate they were unaware of fraud accusations brought against the Chinese companies. According to the Reuters piece the companies “have engaged in college application fraud, including writing application essays and teacher recommendations, and falsifying high school transcripts.” Earlier this year, we read about the scandal facing fraudulent practices surrounding students recruited from China and India to several key U.S. institutions. The fraud covered all facets of the admissions process, from creating bogus financial statements, ghost writers preparing college admissions essays, to falsified academic documents. 

We see ACEI and the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE), the professional association that vets and screens private credential evaluation services and requires adherence to peer approved evaluation standards, to be at the helm of this paradigm shift in thinking. If quality, due diligence, and academic values are an institution’s mission and purpose, then they can only be achieved and fostered when partnered with organizations that share the same vision and adhere to the highest standards in credential evaluations. The benefits of the credential evaluation service we provide at ACEI are many, but the most important is that an unbiased evaluation based on vetted academic documents and peer reviewed placement recommendation guidelines protects the academic institution against risks such as fraud and misrepresentation which affect the institution’s reputation, ranking, and most importantly accreditation.

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

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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