9 Recent Episodes of Cheating, Fraud, and Scams in Education from Around the Globe

June 25th, 2015

cheating

We probably all share a common misconception that except for a few bad apples in school who are caught cheating on a test, the education system is functioning and has safeguards in place against mass cheating, credential fraud and financial scams. Alas, our schools and universities–the bastions of higher education and research-are not the safe havens we think but the learning grounds for cheaters and scam artists. We can place the blame solely on the students, especially, where cheating has become part of the norm. As the old saying goes, it takes two to tango, and in education, whether at the secondary or tertiary level, those responsible for setting the curriculum and benchmarks for progress and access to higher tiers in the education system must also take responsibility.

Following the thread from last week’s blog post on detecting fraudulent credentials, we’d like to share a few recent examples of blatant acts of fraud and cheating that share a common theme on a global scale. In countries with few seats available at their institutions of higher education and where admission to a university is solely based on performance on a final exit examination, we can see the extreme measures students and sometimes students aided and abetted by their families are taking in order to pass. We see this happening in countries like China, India, and Egypt, for example. Then there are those countries that embrace an open market economy with little regulation on the emergence of private, for-profit institutions that mislead their recruited students by admitting them into programs with little hope of completion or future employment opportunities while saddling them with huge student loan debts. We see this happening here in the U.S. and in Russia where after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a rapid rise of private universities offering degrees with dubious curriculum and instruction.

Let’s look at the latest news on the cheating that is now rampant in three countries that captured the headlines in international education news media. This is cheating on a large scale, not isolated to one school, or town, or a group of rebel students, but has become a part of the cultural mindset.

1. China: Using Drones to Catch Cheaters on Exams

china_drones

Yes, you read this correctly. China is now using drones to hover over test takers to catch anyone in the act of cheating on the National College Entrance Exams. Where you have exams that determine a person’s future, from access to higher education or not, and if accepted, to the long-term impact on their future job, one can understand the serious pressure placed on the young people and their families which may push them to resort to unethical tactics such as cheating and fraud. Those caught by the drones cheating have been arrested. http://time.com/3914087/china-drones-cheating-exams/

2. Egypt: Students cheating on Final Exams

Egypt_cheating
Image: How to prevent cheating on exams?

Students in Egypt are so brazen in their cheating that they have no qualms in beating the proctors and using social media for answers to the questions. The Ministry of Education has taken great measures to secure the annual exams but so far it appears the students are winning. Maybe Egypt needs to take cues from China and get a few drones?
http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/06/19/helicopters-scanners-no-match-for-egypts-exam-cheats?src=usn_Fb

3. India: Mass Cheating on Exams

india_cheating
Image of families scaling walls of exam center in Bihar, India.

India has been in the news recently with mass cheating that took place in Bihar where thousands of family members scaled the walls of an examination hall to help the students cheat on their finals. This resulted in the expulsion of 500 students and arrest of 300 people which included parents and even policemen who were complicit in the cheating extravaganza.
http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20150326203322304

4. Morocco: Jail Sentences for Students Caught Cheating

morroco_cheating
Photo Credit: Morocco World News

Morocco is made it a law that any student caught cheating will receive a two-year prison sentence.
The Ministry of National Education is taking these tougher measures to fight cheating at the national baccalaureate examination (taken at the end of high school and required for admission to universities). Law enforcement specialized in detecting cheaters will be patrolling examination centers http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2015/06/160558/morocco-students-who-cheat-in-exams-will-face-up-to-2-years-in-prison/

5. USA: Cheating in Atlanta Schools

atlanta_cheating
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter presides over the sentencing of former
Atlanta public school educators convicted of inflating students’ scores on state tests. (Pool/Reuters)

In April 2015, a judge in Atlanta, GA, found 10 public school teachers, principals and administrators guilty of conspiring to inflate student’s final exam grades. For more on this story, click on these three links:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/eight-atlanta-educators-in-test-cheating-case-sentenced-to-prison/2015/04/14/08a9d26e-e2bc-11e4-b510-962fcfabc310_story.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/eight-atlanta-educators-in-test-cheating-case-sentenced-to-prison/2015/04/14/08a9d26e-e2bc-11e4-b510-962fcfabc310_story.html

http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/14/us/georgia-atlanta-public-schools-cheating-scandal-verdicts/

Now, let’s take a look at other varieties of cheating that are not directly related to exams but to misrepresentation and committing fraud at various levels of academia.

6. Nigeria: Skewed Understanding of Plagiarism

cheating_2

Though plagiarism is not exactly similar to cheating on exams, using another’s published work and claiming it one’s own without crediting the original source is an ethical concern. The result of a doctoral research study on this topic concludes that plagiarism exists at Nigerian institutions of higher education and that those engaged in the act did not fully comprehend what plagiarism is. The same was true of the lecturers at the universities who too like their students weren’t completely unclear on what plagiarism is and were not aware of the serious ethical implications.
http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20150609151735677

7. India: Distance Learning Programs Scrutinized

india_cheating_2

There is also the case of open and distance learning programs offered by institutions of higher education deemed universities which have been found by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to be in serious violation of existing rules and regulations. The UGC is warning students and parents to be cautious when selecting such programs as several of these universities had not been granted recognition to offer “online” programs and have been doing so without the approval of the UGC.
http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-miscellaneous/tp-others/distance-learning-keep-your-eyes-open/article7340864.ece

8. Russia: University Closures

Russia_redsquare
Image: Red Square, Moscow, Russia

In a move to regain control of higher education institutions, especially newly established private universities, the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia will cut the number of universities by 40% and university branches by 80% by the end of 2016. This is in accordance with a federal plan that is designed to improve and develop education during 2015 to 2010. There are currently about 593 state and 486 private universities which have 1,376 and 682 branches respectively. The Ministry sees this rapid rise in number of institutions, especially private universities, as one that is out of control and a close review has shown that the quality of education by some is subpar and unsatisfactory with some rubber stamping diplomas without requiring much instruction and classroom attendance.
http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20150417043945585

9. U.S.A.: Corinthian Colleges

bankrupt_colleges

The story of Corinthian Colleges is that of the quintessential private for-profits that through unethical practices secured financial aid and defrauded the federal government from millions of dollars in student loans for students who never completed their education but are saddled with debt. Corinthian Colleges has since filed for bankruptcy and is under investigation. You can read more here:

http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-fines-corinthian-colleges-30-million-misrepresentation

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/10/education/questions-of-cost-in-plan-to-aid-defrauded-corinthian-colleges-students.html?ref=topics&_r=0

The problems cited are not unique to one or two countries. We are facing an epidemic on a global scale and if we don’t take action and seriously evaluate our systems, we’re going to be trapped in the vicious cycle of more mass cheatings by tech and social media savvy students and continuous fraud in falsifying documents (let’s not forget the ever present booming industry of Diploma Mills) and misappropriating funds by private for-profit institutions lacking stricter oversight and regulation. As for the for-profit institutions, many may be closing shop here in the U.S., but they are turning their gaze overseas, a market ripe for the kind of wares they are selling, promising a U.S. degree at a high cost with little or no guarantees for future employment or access to other institutions of higher education.

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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Detecting Fraudulent Academic Credentials

June 18th, 2015

fraud

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!

redflag

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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ECFMG and Iranian Medical School Graduates: A (real life) Drama in 3 Acts

June 11th, 2015

curtains

Players:
-ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates)
-Iranian medical school graduates
-Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury

Background:
Once upon a time in America, over the course of a week, there happened to be some confusion at the ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) on what to do with medical school graduates from Iran. What transpired in those seven days demonstrates the state of confusion that exists concerning the sanctions placed on Iran which prohibit individuals/entities in the U.S. from engaging in commerce with Iran or otherwise face severe repercussions.

Here’s how it started:

Act I

On May 29, 2015, the ECFMG announced that it would no longer accept medical degree graduates from Iran. In their announcement they noted that Canada too would no longer accept Iranian medical school graduates. This prompted a huge outcry from the Iranian diaspora and educators leading to the circulation of a petition to have ECFMG place Iranian medical school graduates back on its list. Had ECFMG done its due diligence before reaching the controversial decision? Perhaps not, as seen by what transpired five days later.

Act II

On June 3, 2015, the ECFMG issued the following update: 

“ECFMG has consulted with officials of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of Treasury to clarify whether OFAC restrictions permit ECFMG to engage in verification activities for medical credentials issued in Iran. Based on this consultation, ECFMG is diligently working toward resolution of this important issue. Once again, we regret any inconvenience, and we thank all of our clients for their patience and cooperation.” 

Two days later, this happened…

Act III

On June 5th, ECFMG amended its position and released the following statement:

“ECFMG is pleased to announce that it will resume processing of requests for verification of medical credentials issued by educational, health care, and medical registration/licensing institutions in Iran. As previously announced, ECFMG was not processing such requests, pending clarification of restrictions of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. On June 5, ECFMG was advised by OFAC officials that it is permitted to engage in verification activities for medical credentials issued in Iran. ECFMG would like to thank all affected physicians and clients for their patience and cooperation while we worked toward positive resolution of this important issue”. See more at: http://bit.ly/1IxiVYL

The End!

My 2 Cents:
In most likelihood, the ECFMG was apprised by the OFAC and the US Department of Treasury of the issuance of General License G in 2014 which allows for education and cultural exchange between the USA and Iran. For a summary of the activities allowed under General license G, please also see the blog on General License G. For the PDF copy of General License G: http://1.usa.gov/1Ixjthc

All and all, a story with a happy ending!


The Frustrated Evaluator
www.acei1.com

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AGULA: A Swiss-Mongolian Music Exchange Project

June 4th, 2015

Agula
AGULA: A Swiss-Mongolian Music Exchange Project

At first glance, AGULA: A Swiss-Mongolian Music Exchange Project, with its academic title and cover art, may give the appearance of being just another experiment in world music fusion, but believe you me—this is one album definitely not to be overlooked.

I haven’t been able to stop listening to AGULA, a gorgeous, multi-layered collaboration between the American-born, Swiss double bassist-led Heiri Känzig Quintet and Ulaanbaatar’s Arga Bileg ethno-jazz band. The latter are an 11-member collective of musicians and dancers who straddle both contemporary jazz and traditional Mongolian folk practices. Känzig is a longtime member of the Vienna Art Orchestra, who has also toured and recorded with countless artists for Blue Note, Verve, ACT, and Virgin, flexing his fingers between classical, jazz and world music.

band
Arga Bileg’s Davaazorig Altangerel (center) singing khöömii with Batzaya Khadhuu (L) on morin khuur and Munkhtogtokh Ochirkhuyag (R) on yatga.

With original compositions by both Känzig and Arga Bileg composer Purevsukh Tyeliman, what would have been an otherwise dauntingly impossible project juxtaposing Mongolian khöömii bi-tonal throat singing with western voices, the traditional morin khuur (horse head fiddles) and yatga (plucked zither) with piano, double bass, accordion, horn, flugelhorn, drums and percussion—clearly, no easy feat—is absolute perfection. AGULA’s sound is exquisite in its intricacies and not at all contrived in the way that skeptics—like me—usually think.

This new release’s most unusual musical partnership was the result of a celebration last year marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as Switzerland was the very first to become Mongolia’s non-socialist trading partner back in 1964. And in the past ten years, the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency has played a significant role in supporting the country’s arts and culture program, sponsoring projects like AGULA, in partnership with the Arts Council of Mongolia.

Bass
Double bassist Heiri Känzig

The title, AGULA, takes its name from an old Mongolian term for the word ‘mountain,’ a geographical feature that both countries share in common: the Altai (14,783ft.); and the Alps (15,203ft.). While these two countries may seem worlds apart from one another, they have certainly proved again that the universal language of music can transcend any and all language and cultural boundaries.

band_2
Heiri Känzig Quintet & Mongolia’s Arga Bileg ethno-jazz band

The Heiri Känzig Quintet and Arga Bileg ethno-jazz band create audio alchemy on AGULA, evoking Mongolia’s nomadic tradition and vast grasslands.

The making of AGULA: A Swiss-Mongolian Music Exchange Project.

toms

Tom Schnabel, M.A.

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

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Spain: Understanding and Evaluating the Titulo Propio

Titulo de Propio vs. Titulo Oficial

May 28th, 2015

spain

Recently, I have been privy to questions concerning how to evaluate and recognize the university degree titles of titulos propios and titulos oficiales from Spain. These titles are regarded as two different degrees by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte)/MEC of Spain inviting a closer look into understanding the differences between them.

This blog provides information on the titulo proprios and titulo oficiales to help U.S. admissions officers and credential evaluators differentiate between the two in the evaluation and admissions decision making process.

Historical Background

• In 1983, the Law of University Reform (Ley de Reforma Universitaria/LRU) enabled universities in Spain to offer and award their own degree programs, known as Titulos propios and gave universities greater autonomy in budgetary decision-making and curriculum development. (www.mecd.gob.es/portada-mecd/).
• Under the LRU, universities can continue offering degree programs officially recognized as titulos oficiales by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte)/MEC.
• The 1983 LRU also allowed for private universities to be established in Spain.
• In the 1983 LRU the MEC specified that universities offering titulos propios degrees must use terminology in the titles that clearly identifies it as a “propio” to avoid any confusion or overlap with official degree titles established and recognized by the government.
• Universities in Spain offer students who wish to complete their studies at the graduate level toward the Master’s degree the choice of either pursuing Máster/Master Oficial de Postgrado or the Máster Titulo Propio.

Definition

Titulo Propio

• The translation of the word “propio” means own, as in mine, and not yours.
• A título propio is a credential awarded on completion of curriculum set by the institution and awarded by the institution.
• The most common título propio qualification is Máster / Master; additional qualifications include Especialista / Specialist, Experto / Expert, Diploma, Técnico / Technician, and Graduado / Graduate.
Título propio programs represent a minimum of 20 credits.
Títulos propios are awarded by the rector of the individual university, rather than by the MEC.

sample
Sample: Titulo Propio Máster awarded by Universidad de León

sample_2
Sample: Titulo Propio / Titulo de Máster awarded by Universidad de Alcalá

Titulo Oficial
• The titulo oficial is awarded and recognized by the MEC on completion of prescribed studies at a university in accordance with Ministry-approved curriculum.
• Typically, a titulo official will include on the degree the name of King Felipe VI of Spain, the name of the Rector and identify the degree as such. See samples below:

sample_3
Sample: Titulo Oficial awarded by the Universidad Internacional de la Rioja

sample_4
Sample: Titulo Oficial Máster awarded by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Credits

Titulo Propios

Máster Titulo Propio 50 credits
Experto Universitario 25 credits
Expecialista Universitario 21 credits

Admission Requirements

• According to information on the MEC website, entrance to either the Titulo Propios or Titulo Oficiales programs requires the título de Graduado or título de Arquitecto, Ingeniero, Licenciado, Arquitecto Técnico, Diplomado, Ingeniero Técnico or Maestro from the first cycle of university studies. [Note: Students from the USA must have the Bachelor’s degree and those from Canada must have the Bachelor’s Honours degree for admission.] However, universities offering titulo propio programs are free to set their own admission requirements and can accept students who may not have completed the entire first cycle of university studies.

Purpose and Post-graduation Opportunities

Titulos propios

Titulos propios are not considered part of the formal higher education structure as they do not have academic recognition of the MEC.
Titulos propros do not provide access to government-mandated positions of employment
Titulos propios may be accepted as equal to the official titles for employment purposes in the private sector.

Titulos Oficiales

• Considered part of the formal higher education structure and provide access to doctoral level studies at universities in Spain and within the European Union.
• Accepted for government-mandated positions of employment as well as employment in the private sector.

Evaluation Guidelines

Given that the titulos propios do not have MEC recognition, may have variable admission criteria depending on individual institutional policies, and do not provide access to doctoral degree programs, my advice is to recognize the studies for credit equivalence but not a U.S. Master’s degree. When evaluating these degrees, request the following from the student/candidate: proof of degree from previous studies to help establish the criteria on which the individual was admitted to the titulo propio program and official transcripts from the university showing the courses studied, final grades and most importantly the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) units for each course. The ECTS will help with determining and awarding transfer credit.

Personal observation: It appears that the titulos propios programs attract international students while Spaniards pursue the titulos oficiales degree programs as the titulos propios do not provide access to doctoral degree programs and are not accepted for employment in the civil service jobs in Spain.

Helpful links:

• Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports http://bit.ly/1AwemOo
• University of Barcelona (offering a definition of the titulos propios and titulos oficiales programs): University of Barcelona: http://bit.ly/1dzYGzn
• Report by three universities in Spain on Titulos Propios versus Titulos Oficiales (issued in Spanish) http://bit.ly/1FdrXFC

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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50+ Interesting Facts on Sweden

May 21st, 2015

sweden_flag

ACEI recently offered a training webinar on Sweden and it’s education system, with particular focus on upper secondary (high school) education. We thought in this week’s blog we share with you a few interesting facts we gathered in our research on Sweden.

Geography & Population
sweden_waterfall

• Population is 9.7 million people.
• Capital of Sweden is Stockholm (built on 14 islands).
• The official language is Swedish.
• 3rd largest EU country in land area, after France and Spain.

History
sweden_viking_ship

• Sweden is one of the homelands of the Germanic ethnicity and culture.
• Around 2,000 years ago, the Svear people gave Sweden its name. In their language, svear meant “us” and rike meant “kingdom.” So, Sverige, the modern Swedish name of the country, means “Our Kingdom.
• In the 9th and 10th centuries, Swedish Vikings invaded and settled in parts of Eastern Europe as far as Constantinople and the Caspian Sea.
• In 1954, while excavating a Viking settlement in Sweden, archeologists found a Buddha statue from India.

Government
sweden_parliament
Image: Rosenbad in Stockholm, seat of the Government since 1981

• Parliamentary democracy.
• Sweden’s head of state since 1973 has been King Carl XVI Gustaf.
• Sweden is a member of the European Union, but has its own currency, the krona, or Swedis crown.
• In 1862, Sweden became the first country to grant suffrage for (married) women, although only for local elections.
• With 47% of female parliamentarians (in 2006), Sweden has the highest proportion of women lawmakers in the world.

Economics & Employment
sweden_money

• Sweden has the highest standard V.A.T. rate in the world (25%).
• Total taxation in Sweden amount to 54.2 % of GDP, the highest level worldwide.
• In 2010, 2011 and 2012, Sweden was ranked third in the world for the inequality-adjusted Human Development Index(HDI) defined by the United Nations Development Program.
• Swedish people have the lowest income inequality in the world, with a Gini index of 23 in 2005.
• Sweden has the smallest gender employment-rate gap in the developed world, with only 4% more men in employment than women.
• Sweden has the highest percentage of working mothers in the developed world, no less than 76% of them.

Society, Social Justice and Welfare
sweden_society

Lagom is an important and often-used word in Sweden. Meaning good enough, or just right, it sums up Swedish cultural and social ideals of equality and fairness.
• Homosexual relations have been legal since 1944, and same sex couples have been able to adopt since 2003 and get married since 2009.
• The country was the first in the world with freedom of the press (1766), and is at the top of global press freedom rankings.
• Secular and open to all religions. The national church, the Church of Sweden, is Lutheran, but Catholicism and other Christian denominations are also
• In 2006 Swedish people had the longest life expectancy in Europe (80.51 years).
• A 2007 UNICEF report on child well-being in rich countries ranked Sweden as the best country in terms of children’s material well-being, health and safety, and behaviors and risks.
• Sweden is the only nation where donations exceed 1% of the GDP.
• The Swedish maternity and paternity leave is one of the longest and most generous in the world, allowing the father and mother to take a shared total of 480 days (16 months) off at 77.6% of their salary.

Science & Innovations
sweden_science

• The astronomical lens is a Swedish invention.
• The pacemaker, ultrasound, safety match, astronomical lens, marine propeller, refrigerator, and computer mouse are all famous items that were invented in Sweden or by Swedes who weren’t living in Sweden.
• As of late 2012, Sweden had obtained 30 Nobel prizes, including 5 Peace prizes. This is the 5th highest number of laureates in the world, and the highest per capita ratio for any country with over 1 million inhabitants.
• Sweden has the highest number of patents granted per capita of any European country, with 271 patents per million people.
• Sweden ranks second in Europe (after Finland) in terms of technological achievement.
• In 2012 the Swedish company Ericsson was the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile telecommunications networks, with 38% of global market share.
• Sweden has an excellent reputation as a car-maker with Volvo and Saab. Scania trucks are also Swedish.
• The world-famous discount furniture chain IKEA was founded in Sweden in 1943.

Environment & Energy Self Sufficiency
sweden_environment

• Sweden is set to become the first country in the world to phase out petroleum for biofuel.
• Sweden has the highest number of nuclear plants per capita, with 10 reactors for 9 million inhabitants.
• Only one per cent of solid waste goes to landfill in Sweden – with the rest recycled or used to produce heat, electricity or vehicle fuel in the form of biogas.
• Sweden is so efficient in recycling that it has run out of trash and receives Norway’s trash to process and recycle.

Education Governance
sweden_college

• The Ministry of Education (Utbildningsdepartementet) is responsible for primary and secondary education as well as higher education with a few exceptions (agriculture, in particular).
• The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) is responsible for policy implementation and quality control concerning primary, secondary and adult education.
• The Swedish Council for Higher Education (Uiversitets- och Hogskoleradet) and the Swedish Higher Education Authority (Universitetskanslerambetet) are responsible for higher education.

Education: Compulsory and Upper Secondary
sweden_kids

• Nursery school (kindergarten, förskola) is open to children from one to five years of age. Almost all children also attend non-compulsory primary school at the age of six (sexårsverksamhet). In practice, this means ten years of education in all.
• Education is compulsory for children between the ages of 7 and 16 and free.
• Education at the upper secondary level is free.
• The academic year runs from August until June.
• There are also a small number of schools for the Saami minorities in the north of Sweden were classes are taught in Sammi
• The 12-year elementary and secondary system is divided into 2 phases: primary education (Grundskola – 9 years of compulsory school covering primary education and junior secondary education); senior secondary education (Gymnasia – 3 years of senior secondary school).
• Students who complete the Grundskola receive the Slutbetyg Från Grundskola (School Leaving Certificate).
• Student who complete the Gymnasia receive the Slutbetyg Från Gymnasieskola.
• Also at the upper secondary level there are Folkhögskola (Folk High School) and Komvux (Municipal Adult School) which are for Adults (with some previous education & work experience and do not charge tuition.
• Corporal punishment in schools was banned in 1979.

Education: University
sweden_university
Image: Uppsala University

• Sweden has two main types of higher education institutions: universities (universitet) and university colleges (högskola). Both grant bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but only universities grant doctoral degrees.
• Sweden has around 50 public and private universities and university colleges.
• Two of the oldest universities in Sweden are Uppsala University which was founded in 1477 and Lund University founded in 1666.
• The Swedes spend the longest time in tertiary education with an average student age of 25.5 years old.
• Swedish university students are required to pay a membership fee in the student union, but do not pay tuition.
• 40% of Swedish women and 32% of Swedish men aged 25 to 64 participate in education or training.
• Sweden has the highest proportion of personal computers per capita in Europe, with 500 P.C.’s per 1,000 people.

Bonus Fun Facts:

• There’s a golf course on the border of Sweden and Finland with half the holes in one country and the other half in another.
• Sweden has the highest number of McDonald restaurants per capita in Europe (although that is only about half of the US ratio).
• Swedish was made the official language of Sweden in 2009.
• In the interest of safety, Sweden’s auto company, Volvo, made the three-point seat belt design patent open and free to other car manufacturers.
• In Sweden, you cannot name your child Ikea or Elvis.
• The official Twitter account @Sweden is given to a random citizen every week to manage.
• The origin of the word Smörɡåsbord is Swedish which according to Merriam-Webster online dictionary is “a luncheon or supper buffet offering a variety of foods and dishes (as hors d’oeuvres, hot and cold meats, smoked and pickled fish, cheeses, salads, and relishes).”

For more random facts on Sweden click on this link: http://facts.randomhistory.com/sweden-facts.html

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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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13 Facts about the Bologna Process

May 14th, 2015

bologna
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

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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