15 Facts on the Education System of Greece

July 23rd, 2015

Greece

Given the recent news on Greece and its economic crisis, we’d like to put the spotlight on its education system and offer you some highlights in this week’s blog post:

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Greece has been a republic since 1974, and became a member of the European Community (now the EU) in 1981. Greece has an area of 50,949 square miles (131,958 square kilometers); roughly the size of Alabama, with a population of more than 11 million people (almost twice the population of Alabama which is around 4.8 million.) Voting is mandatory for everyone over the age of 18 who is a Greek citizen.

Education Facts:

1. The education system in Greece is centralized, with all levels falling under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs (“Ypourgeio Paideias, dia Biou Mathisis kai Thriskeumaton”).

2. The Greek Educational System comprises of three consecutive levels: Primary; Secondary; Tertiary.

3. Education from Grades 1-9, ages 6-15, is free and compulsory.

4. Primary (“Dimotiko”) education is sub-divided into Pre-school Education and Compulsory Primary Education. The Pre-school Education is offered by kindergarten classes and the Compulsory Primary Education is given by Primary schools.

5. Secondary education is divided into two stages, stage 1 is the Compulsory Lower Level Secondary Education provided in Gymnasiums and stage 2 is the Post-compulsory or Upper Secondary Education which is offered by the Unified Lyceums (“Eniaio Lykeio”) and Technical Vocational Educational Schools (“Techniko Epaggelmatiko Ekpaideftirio – TEE”).

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6. The duration of studies in “Eniaia Lykeia” is three years and in the Technical Vocational Educational Schools (TEE) two years (a’ level) or three years (b’ level).

7. The Ministry of Education has overall responsibility for course development and approval, and also supervises most of these schools. Certain TEE are supervised by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Development.

8. Tertiary education is divided into university education offered by universities and non-university education offered by Higher Technological Educational Institutes and Higher Education Institutes.

9. Higher Education institutions in Greece are fully self-administered legal entities under public law, and are funded and supervised by the Hellenic Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs in accordance with Provision 16 of the Constitution.

10. There are 22 Universities, including Polytechnic Schools, the School of Fine Arts and the Hellenic Open University (EAP), 14 Technological Educational Institutes (T.E.I.) and the School of Pedagogic and Technological Education (ASPETAI).

11. There are also Higher Ecclesiastical Schools, supervised by the Ministry of Education and other higher education institutions mainly supervised by other Ministries (for example Merchant Marine Academies are under the supervision of the Ministry of Mercantile Marine, Higher Military Education Schools that are under the supervision of the Ministry of Defense, and Higher Police Academies are under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Order).

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University of Athens

12. Students who successfully complete their studies in universities and T.E.I. are awarded a “Ptychio” (degree) which leads to employment or further study at the post-graduate level.

13. University and T.E.I. graduates can continue their studies to attain an MSc and a PHD provided they meet the criteria set by each department running the courses.

14. Doctorate degrees are obtained after a minimum of three years of original research, including the preparation and writing of a thesis. In some doctoral programs, theoretical courses are compulsory and are taken prior to individual research.

15. Students wishing to study at the tertiary level receive scholarship s from the State Scholarships Foundation (IKY) which also grants scholarships to graduates of universities and technical education institutions for post-graduate or post-doctoral studies in Greece and abroad based on academic achievement of undergraduate studies. In addition, students (at any level) can receive grants to study at other European Higher Education Institutes under the Lifelong Learning Programs (LLP).

Sources:
T.E.I Patras (Technological Education Institute Patras) http://en.teipat.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3&Itemid=85 ]
National School Network http://www.sch.gr
Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs http://www.ypepth.gr
OECD Greece http://www.oecd.org/edu/bycountry/greece/

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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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30 Facts on the Education System of Islamic Republic of Iran

July 16th, 2015

iran_map

After intense negotiations, on July 14, 2015, the U.S. and five other world powers have reached a deal to freeze Iran’s nuclear program for the next decade in exchange for gradual sanctions relief that rolls out as Iran complies with a multi-step process. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ensures that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful. http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/pages/iran.aspx

Given these recent developments, we would like to spotlight Iran and share with you the following facts on the country and its education system:

1. Iran is one of the oldest nations in the world, with a history dating back tens of thousands of years. The country’s first great city, Susa, was built on the central plateau around 3200 B.C.

Iran_2

2. Iran (pronounced ee-RAHN), formerly known as Persia, is situated at the crossroads of Central Asia, South Asia, and the Arab states of the Middle East. The name “Iran” means “land of the Aryans.”

3. Iran is a republic in Central Asia, sharing a border with seven countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, and Turkmenistan.

4. It has been officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979.

5.Iran is a Shiite Muslim country, but the majority of its people are Persian, not Arab.

6. Iran’s capital is Tehran.

Azadi
Tehran: Azadi Monument (formerly Shahyad Monument)

7. Iran has a population of 80,840,713 (median age 28) and covers an area that is 636,372 square miles (1,648,195 square kilometers), slightly smaller than Alaksa.

8. Official language of instruction in Iran is Farsi/Persian. English and/or French are taught in most private schools.

9. According to 2015 estimates, the literacy rates of total population age 15 and over is 86.8% of which 92.1% are male and 82.5% are female.

10. According to 2013 reports, Iran spends 3.7 of GDP on education.

11. Starting with 7th grade, English is taught as a second language in all public schools and is compulsory through the secondary level years.

12. Primary school is called “Dabestan” and includes grades 1 to 5 (ages 6 to 11). At the end of the 5th year, students take a nation-wide exam which they must pass in order to continue to the next cycle.

iran_school_1

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13. Middle school is called Rahnamaei also known as Lower Secondary School (Guidance) and includes grades 6 to 8 (ages 11 to 14). At the end of the 3rd year of middle school, students take a region-wide exam administered by the local provisional board of education which they must pass in order to continue to the next cycle.

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14. Secondary school is called Dabirestan and includes grades 9 to 12 (ages 14 to 17). The 4th year of grade 12 includes a college-preparatory year known as Pish-daneshgahi. In dabirestan, students choose subjects from either one of two tracks: 1) academic/general track that includes a] physics-mathematics, b] socio-economics, c] literature and culture, and d] experimental sciences; or 2) technical/vocational track in such areas as business and agriculture. On completion of 3 years of study (Grade 11), students receive their diploma before they are determined eligible to continue onto the 12th year (Grade 12) pish-daneshgahi studies.

15. Pre-university or Pish-Daneshgahi is the 4th year extension (Grade 12) to secondary school and last one year. It is an intensive year of study intended to prepare students for the national university entrance examination known as the Concour.

16. The Concour determines students’ chances to enter public and some private universities in Iran. It is a very challenging examination and only a minority of students who take it are successful in passing.

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Photo Credit:PressTV – University Entrance Exam (Concours) in Tehran

17. At the higher education level, Iran has private, public and state affiliated universities.

18. Universities, institutes of technology, medical schools, and community colleges make up the higher education sector.

19. Except for medical schools, all state-run universities are under the direct supervision of the Iranian Ministry of Science, Research and Technology. Medical schools are under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, Treatment, and Medical Education.

20. Currently, there are over 50 public universities and over 40 public institutions specializing in medical study and 200 private postsecondary institutions in Iran.

21. Tuition at public universities is free.

22. Private institutions charge fees.

23. The largest private institution in Iran is Islamic Azad University.

24. Women make up more than 60 percent of the college population in Iran but less than 20 percent of the working population.

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25. Out of 1.176 million people registered for higher education in the Iranian academic year of 2012-2013, women accounted for 522,248 (44.38 percent) while men’s share stood at 654,593 (55.62 percent).

26.The number of female university students also increased by almost twofold from 1,231,035 in the Iranian academic year of 2005-2006 to 2,106,639 in 2012-2013.

iran_women
Photo Credit: Ebrahim Norrozi/AP – Iranian women, shown here in downtown Tehran, are among groups in the country pushing for social and economic change.

27. Distance learning degree programs are provided mainly by the University of Payam-e-Hour.

28. University degrees in Iran include:
• Kardani (formerly Fogh-Diplom) – 2-year program equivalent to the Associate degree;
• Karshenasi (formerly Licence) – 4-year program equivalent to the Bachelor’s degree;
• Karshenasi Arshad (formerly Fogh-Licence) – 2-year program beyond the Karshenasi equivalent to the Master’s degree;
• Doctora (Doctorate) degree – 3-year program; requires a master’s (Karshenasi) degree for admission and is awarded on completion of 60 semester units and passing a comprehensive exam before entering the research phase of the program, during which they prepare and defend their dissertation.
• Specialized Doctorates – Degrees in dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine are awarded after 6 years of study and a thesis and require completion of the pre-university year for admission.

29. Grading system at primary through university is based on a 0-20 scale. At the primary, secondary level, and undergraduate levels, an average grade of 10 is required for promotion to the next academic grade. At the graduate level the minimum average grade is 12 and in doctoral programs the minimum average is 14.

30. Every year about 150,000 highly talented Iranians emigrate in what the International Monetary Fund calls the highest brain drain in the world.

Bonus Fact:
31. Since we love cats here at ACEI, here’s a bonus fact on the Persian cat; one of the world’s oldest breeds. They originated in the high plateaus of Iran where their long silky fur protected them from the cold. Italian traders brought the breed to Europe in the 17th century, where they became an exotic status symbol. (source: Rajendra, Vijeya, Gisela Kaplan, and Rudi Rajendra. 2004. Iran (Cultures of the World). New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish.)

Helpful links & Sources:
https://www.educationusairan.com/edu-professionals/education-systems
http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/iran_statistics.html
http://www.snipview.com/q/Schools_in_Iran
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ir.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14541327

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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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The Otherworldly Voice of Soeur Marie Keyrouz

July 09, 2015

Soeur Marie Keyrouz
Soeur Marie Keyrouz

You may remember Nuns Who Rock. I featured the big 1963 hit “Dominique,” sung by Soeur Sourire or ‘The Singing Nun,’ and then the Sicilian nun-rocker, Sister Cristina Scuccia.

Now I’d like to spotlight a nun of another order: Soeur (or Sister) Marie Keyrouz, who has recorded numerous albums over the years with her Ensemble de la Paix (Ensemble of Peace). Based now in Paris, she has yet to appear in Los Angeles, and I don’t know that she’s ever performed in the U.S. I tried to bring her group to Los Angeles back when I worked for the L.A. Philharmonic, thinking that the Walt Disney Concert Hall would be an ideal venue, but unfortunately, the cost of doing so was prohibitive.

Cantiques de l’Orient, 1996.
Cantiques de l’Orient, 1996.

Soeur Marie Keyrouz was born in 1963 in Deir el Ahmar, Lebanon. She relocated to Paris and received her doctorate from the Sorbonne in both musicology and anthropology. She belongs to the Congrégation des Soeurs Basiliennes Chouerites and is president of the National Institute of Sacred Music in Paris.

She sings hymns from the Lebanese Maronite Christian church, as well as sacred songs and chants from the Greek, Syriac, and Arabic liturgies. In her crystal clear soprano voice, Soeur Marie Keyrouz embellishes her song with exhortatory ululations and other Arabic touches. I find her music to be utterly mesmerizing, even levitational. The term, ‘otherworldly,’ would not be overstating it.

Start with Soeur Marie Keyrouz’s glorious Cantiques de l’Orient.

Hers is a version of “Ave Maria” unlike any you’ve ever heard before.

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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20 Fun Facts about the 4th of July/Independence Day

July 02, 2015

On this federal holiday, also known as Independence Day, marking the Colonies’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which declared independence from the Great Britain and its king, we thought it would be appropriate to share some fun facts about this historic day. We are already familiar with the fireworks, parades , barbeque and festivities like picnics, fairs, concerts and parties that take place on this day, but there are some things many people don’t know about the Fourth.

1. Congress made Independence Day an official unpaid holiday for federal employees in 1870. In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.

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2. Only John Hancock actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. All the others signed later.

Signing

3. The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 men from 13 colonies.

4. The average age of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence was 45. The youngest was Thomas Lynch, Jr (27) of South Carolina.  The oldest delegate was Benjamin Franklin (70) of Pennsylvania. The lead author of The Declaration, Thomas Jefferson, was 33.

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5. One out of eight signers of the Declaration of Independence were educated at Harvard (7 total).

Gentlemen

6. The only two signers of the Declaration of Independence who later served as President of the United States were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

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7. The stars on the original American flag were in a circle so all the Colonies would appear equal.

Philadelphia

8. The first Independence Day celebration took place in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776. This was also the day that the Declaration of Independence was first read in public after people were summoned by the ringing of the Liberty Bell.

Whitehouse

9. The White House held its first 4th July party in 1801.

10. President John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe all died on the Fourth. Adams and Jefferson (both signed the Declaration) died on the same day within hours of each other in 1826.

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11. Benjamin Franklin proposed the turkey as the national bird but was overruled by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who recommended the bald eagle.

12. In 1776, there were 2.5 million people living in the new nation. Today the population of the U.S.A. is 316 million.

13. Fifty-nine places in the U.S. contain the word “liberty” in the name. Pennsylvania, with 11, has more of these places than any other state. Of the 59 places nationwide containing “liberty” in the name, four are counties: Liberty County, Ga. (65,471), Liberty County, Fla. (8,276), Liberty County, Mont. (2,392) and Liberty County, Texas (76,571).

14. The most common patriotic-sounding word used within place names is “union” with 136. Pennsylvania, with 33, has more of these places than any other state. Other words most commonly used in place names are Washington (127), Franklin (118), Jackson (96) and Lincoln (95).

fireworks

15. Fireworks are part of the tradition of celebrating this national holiday. The U.S. imported $227.3 million worth of fireworks from China in 2012. U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $11.7 million in 2012, with Israel purchasing more than any other country ($2.5 million).

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16. In 2012, vast majority of imported U.S. flags ($3.6 million) was made in China.

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17. Barbecue is also big on Independence Day. Approximately 150 million hot dogs and 700 million pounds of chicken are consumed on this day.

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18. Every 4th of July the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is tapped (not actually rung) thirteen times in honor of the original thirteen colonies.

yankeedoodle

19. Traditions place the origins of “Yankee Doodle” as a pre-Revolutionary War song originally sung by British military officers to mock the disheveled, disorganized colonial “Yankees” with whom they served in the French and Indian War. It is believed that the tune comes from the nursery rhyme Lucy Locket. One version of the Yankee Doodle lyrics is “generally attributed” to Doctor Richard Shuckburgh,a British Army surgeon. According to one story, Shuckburgh wrote the song after seeing the appearance of Colonial troops under Colonel Thomas Fitch, V, the son of Connecticut Governor Thomas Fitch.[2]

Songs

20. The tune of the National Anthem was originally used by an English drinking song called “to Anacreon in Heaven.” The words have nothing to do with consumption of alcohol but the “melody that Francis Key had in mind when he wrote those words did originate decades earlier as the melody for a song praise of wine.” http://www.colonialmusic.org/Resource/Anacreon.htm

From everyone here at ACEI, we wish you and yours a safe and happy Independence Day!

Useful Links:
http://www.parkrideflyusa.com/blog/2012/07/04/20-fun-facts-about-the-4th-of-july/
http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration.html
http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb13-ff14.html
http://www.cleveland.com/pdq/index.ssf/2011/07/fathoming_fun_facts_on_this_fe.html
http://interviewangel.com/17-fun-facts-about-the-fourth-of-july/
http://www.colonialmusic.org/Resource/Anacreon.htm

This was originally posted on July 3rd, 2013.

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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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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

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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).

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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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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!

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Checklist of Clues:

• The application is unusually late, assuming that it would impede verification, or is accompanied by a long letter from an impressive office – usually located in the U.S. – which may be attempting to lend an aura of officialdom to otherwise unacceptable documents. Do not be pressured or rushed into completing the evaluation or reaching an admissions

• Discrepancies/inconsistencies noted in the application for evaluation;

• Evidence of corrected personal data (birth date, gender);

• Document is tampered and has evidence of white-out, burn-marks, erasures, corrections;

• Credentials do not display misspelling, wrong course titles for the time period, smudges, white-outs, or erasures;

• Fonts, text layout, and symmetry of documents are correct for that institution’s credentials.

• Interrupted/obliterated lines where information is generally typed or printed;

• Missing pictures on diplomas or professional identification cards;
• Partial seals on the surface of superimposed pictures not on the document surface;

• Institutional logos are clean and correct for the time period.

• Signatures of institutional authorities do not look forced, unsteadied, nor copied and pasted.

• The type is inconsistent throughout the document because subjects have been added or grades changed. In some cases, crude alterations have been made in longhand, or lines may have been typed in at a slight angle to the computer generated originals;

• Irregular spacing between words or letters, or insufficient space for the text;

• Questionable paper quality, texture, size (regular or legal), weight coloration;

• Ink color and quality;

• Inappropriate or outdated signatures;

• Incorrect seals/emblems, colors, shapes;

• Excessive seals and stamps attempting to help the document appear official;

• Does the document security features, such a embossed seals, foil printing, raised text, or holograms that should be the official document of that country?

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

• Applicant claims to have lost the original documents;

• Applicant claims to have graduated from an institution but can provide only a letter indicating completion of program;

• Although the applicant had taken external examinations, the certificates have been lost and all he/she has left is a statement of attendance or graduation from the school;

• You know the education system to be different from US system, yet the transcript appears to be very American, giving, subjects, grades and credit hours in US terms;

• Grade certificates prepared in a language other than the official language of the country where the document originated. Many countries are currently using official transcripts in English: Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Canada (except Quebec), Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Oman, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and India.

• Names may have been substituted. Typically, a person will type his/her name on a sheet of paper, cut it out and paste it across a copy of an original, which he/she then photocopies; the substitution of names will rarely appear on an original;

• Grades listed may be absurdly high, or the number of course hours claimed to have been carried per semester an improbably load;

• Numerical aberrations: credits do not add up and the overall grade point averages are a mathematical impossibility;

• Is the educational terminology correct for the country concerned?

• Use of unprofessional language on academic documents, poor grammar, misspellings;

• Are there any dates or signatures on the documents?

Our advancement in technology is both a blessing and a curse. With sophisticated computers and printers at their disposal, counterfeiters today produce flawlessly perfect documents that for the uninitiated make it difficult to detect fraud. We hope that the tips shared in this blog and your institution’s enforcement to have in place strict standards for the submission and receipt of academic documents help thwart it not eliminate fraud.

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

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

June 11th, 2015

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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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