10 Criteria to Consider for Outsourcing Your International Credential Evaluation Needs (and why ACEI is your trusted source!)

May 13th, 2016

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In our previous blog, we wrote about the benefits of outsourcing international credential evaluations. In this week’s blog, we’d like to share with you the criteria you need to consider if your institution is looking to outsource its international credential evaluations.

With the need for increasing content and authenticity in the evaluation process comes the need for more education, training and experience on the part of the credential evaluator. Institutions seeking to outsource their international credential evaluations are advised to select a service or multiple services by requesting the following:

1. Membership

Is the credential evaluation agency an Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE)?

The Association of International Credential Evaluators is a non-profit professional association with unique set of criteria which employs a rigorous screening process in determining the eligibility of providers of international credential evaluation services to Endorsed membership. The AICE has published evaluation standards to which its members subscribe and conform to promote consistency and transparency in educational equivalency reporting.

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. is an Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators.

2. Years of Operation

Does the credential evaluation agency have a proven record of experience in the field?

Find out when the agency was established and how long it has been in operation. Number of years of operation as a credential evaluation service provider demonstrates longevity and continuity in a field where fluctuations in the market due to economic and political events affects the solvency of a company and its ability to work with credentials from around the world.

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. was founded in 1994 and is celebrating its 22nd year of service.

3. Standards

What evaluation standards and procedures does the credential evaluation agency employ in evaluating and determining U.S. educational equivalences?

It is important to find out the standards the evaluation agency uses in evaluating credentials to derive at U.S. educational equivalences. Does your institution have any guidelines in place when assessing international credentials? Are the standards used by the evaluation agency in line with your institution’s? If your institution doesn’t have any particular standards on evaluating international credentials, we recommend you refer to the AICE Evaluation Standards for guidelines.

As an Endorsed Member, ACEI adheres to the AICE Evaluation Standards in the preparation of evaluation of international credentials. Adherence to the AICE Evaluation Standards ensures consistency and transparency in evaluations and educational equivalence reporting.

4. Experience

Request and review a profile of the evaluation agency’s executive and evaluation staff. This information will help you assess the expertise and experience of the agency’s evaluation staff. It will also help you outline the methods the agency employs for its evaluators to receive continuous professional development.

√ At ACEI, information on the executive team is available on the website and for its evaluation staff is available on request. The evaluation staff at ACEI are classified at the senior level which means they each bring with them more than 10 years of committed and continuous hands-on experience in evaluating international academic credentials.

5. Services

What types of evaluation reports are provided by the credential evaluation agency?

It is important to determine the different types of evaluation reports the credential evaluation service provides to see if they are able to accommodate your institution’s needs.

At ACEI, we provide three types of evaluation reports: Basic (General Document-by-Document) Report; Comprehensive Course-by-Course (with Grades, GPA, Course Levels) Report; Course Match Evaluation (Comprehensive Course-by-Course with Grades, GPA, Course Levels and Course Match). In addition, ACEI evaluation reports can be customized to meet an institution’s specific needs. For example, ACEI will include information such as Language/Medium of Instruction and certified true copies of official/ original academic documents submitted with the official evaluation report.

6. Required Documents

What criteria does the evaluation company have in place in accepting academic documents?

It’s important to find out whether the evaluation company accepts official transcripts directly from the source institution, or original (“first-issued”) documents in the student’s possessions, photocopies or scanned documents submitted by students, or transcripts received electronically from the source institution.

The ACEI website identifies by country exactly what documents are required for evaluation and method of their submission. For some countries, ACEI strictly requires receipt of official transcripts directly from the source institution and from others, original documents to be provided by the students are accepted. Any original documents provided by the students are returned when the evaluation has been completed. Photocopies that have not been certified by the source institution are not accepted. Copies or scanned copies of documents are accepted for a preview but official/original documents are still required in order to prepare and issue an official evaluation report. Electronically transmitted official transcripts prepared by the source institution and released directly to ACEI are accepted for evaluation.

7. Processing Time

How long does it take for the evaluation agency to complete an evaluation?

The number of days an evaluation agency requires to complete an evaluation plays a significant part in the overall picture when a student’s application for admission is contingent on the evaluation report. You must determine the actual number of days it takes an agency to complete the evaluation and not the estimated time.  For example, an agency may claim a 10-day processing time but in practice it takes 20 or 30 or more days to complete its evaluation reports.

At ACEI, we’re proud to adhere to our claim of completing evaluations within 7 business days. This is an unprecedented turnaround time, unmatched by any other evaluation agency in the U.S. ACEI will complete evaluations within 7 business day from the date of receipt of the completed application form, required official/original academic documents and fees. The processing time is only extended in the event the student does not provide the required academic documents, fees, or submits and incomplete application. ACEI also provides 2 RUSH services whereby an evaluation can be completed within 24-hours or 3-business days on receipt of the completed application, required documents, and fees.

8. Library/Information Resources

What steps does the evaluation agency take in maintaining a dynamic in-house library?

A credential evaluation agency and the evaluation reports it generates are as good as its reference library. Maintaining an in-house library is one of the most important criteria in qualifying for Endorsed Membership with the Association of International Credential Evaluators. An in-house library that has in its collection historic and current publications and reference materials is the backbone of a full-service reputable evaluation agency.

ACEI is proud of its comprehensive in-house library of print and electronic publications which include historic references as well as the most up-to-date publications on world education systems and international directories of institutions of higher education. ACEI in-house library also has in its archives thousands of sample educational credentials and evaluation reports to use as reference. The ACEI Database of evaluation reports and country profiles is another helpful resource for its evaluation staff.

9. Website & Information

Does the evaluation company have a website that is user-friendly and informative?

A website serves as the portal to a company’s operation and services. An effective website must include information that is clear and transparent about its services, fees and procedures.

ACEI’s website provides detailed instructions on the application process, required academic documents for evaluation, types of evaluation reports, fees, methods of payment, processing time, and terms and conditions of service. The Frequently Asked Questions section of the ACEI website is also a helpful page to visit for supporting information.

10. Customer/Client Relations

How helpful and knowledgeable is the evaluation company’s staff?

And, last but not least, building a relationship with an evaluation company where you are confident that your institution’s needs and those of your international students are not ignored but handled in a timely and professional matter is essential. It is good to call the evaluation company and see if you are greeted by a friendly representative able and willing to answer your questions. If you emailed the company, how soon was your email answered?

ACEI’s official hours of business are from 9:00 AM PST – 4:00 PM PST Monday through Friday. ACEI has a 24-hour, 7-days a week answering phone service to handle basic phone inquiries during its non-business hours. During our regular business hours, our representatives are available to answer any of your phone and email inquiries. All phone messages and emails are answered within 24-hours.

In closing, by selecting a reputable evaluation service with proven years of experience, you are ensured the most up-to-date evaluation standards and practices. Indirectly, outsourcing also gives you access to the evaluation service’s resources: its library, database, knowledge and experience, online tools, and training. Finally, building a relationship with a credential evaluation agency creates an understanding between the parties that allows the agency to incorporate any special institutional needs into the evaluation. An on-going relationship with an evaluation service leads to consistency in the placement of students over time and across educational systems. It also provides the institution with an expert resource to consult when questions arise about credentials and placement.

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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