Category Archives: Politics

Being a Myth Buster in the Age of Fake News & Alternative Facts

June 9th, 2017

Myth

It’s been a while since I’ve written something for this blog and it’s not for a lack of material. I’ve been in a state of disbelief since November 8, 2016. I’ve watched how anti-immigrant, anti-globalization, anti-internationalization rhetoric from the new administration has affected the image of our institutions of higher education—the bastions of learning and innovations—in the eyes of the world. I am astounded as to how myopic, xenophobic, and short-sighted a large majority of my fellow Americans have become overnight. Most likely they have always been this way, and the November 8th elections have liberated them to boldly display and proclaim their hatred and phobia of the “other” for all to see and hear.

I’ve sat quietly on the sidelines, simmering in my own stew of angst and frustration, mentally drafting essays of my opinions but feeling a resistance in actually putting them on paper/screen for others to read. Until yesterday happened. Yesterday, for the first time ever in the ten years I’ve been on social media, I ventured out of my safe zone and posted a comment. It was a comment in response to another comment. And the commenter was commenting about a satiric video featuring Mexico’s Former President Vicente Fox. In the clip, Mr. Fox quips that instead of paying hundreds of millions of dollars to build a useless wall, the U.S. could pay for the university education of hundreds of thousands of students.

The comment that pushed me out of my self-imposed exile of interacting with the human species went something like this, and I’ll paraphrase it here:

“And how about those international students who are here in this country on a student visa, studying for free and then go back to to their countries and never pay back their tuition?”

I stared at this comment for less than 5 seconds and realized that I had to step in and bust the myth.  The myth shared by many Americans who think international students studying in the U.S. are getting a free pass. These same people mistakenly believe that international students return to their home countries without ever paying tuition or repaying the institution for the free education they received. This is far from the truth!

Unfortunately, in this age of fake news and alternative facts, it’s next to impossible to present facts, backed by research and statistical analysis when trying to clarify misconceptions and incorrect assumptions. But, I took a chance and went ahead and posted this comment in response:

“Foreign students must prove financial solvency in order to get a student visa and be admitted into the U.S. to study. They pay a much higher tuition than domestic students or out of state students. The contribution of international students to U.S. economy is quite significant. They not only pay tuition to cover their education but also contribute to the local economy by being consumers of products, renting apartments, buying cars, shopping, eating at restaurants, etc. Many people benefit. Clearly many Americans have the wrong idea of international students. They are not a financial burden but a financial boon to the country’s economy. $32.8 billion to be exact.”

And, in case the commenter and others like him were interested in facts supported by research data, I also included the following link:

http://www.nafsa.org/Policy_and_Advocacy/Policy_Resources/Policy_Trends_and_Data/NAFSA_International_Student_Economic_Value_Tool/

To my surprise, I received about 8 likes to my comment and no angry and nasty retorts. At least, none to date.

I guess the point to this blog is that we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines when we see incorrect information making the rounds or when assumptions are made that have no factual basis. It is our responsibility as citizens, fellow human beings, denizens of this planet to bust the myths and spread the facts. Whether we are heard or not. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we spoke up and didn’t sit silently in the shadows. In the age of Super Heroes, we need to put on our cloaks, take a deep breath and assume our roles as Myth Busters!

Frustrated
Frustrated Evaluator aka Myth Buster extraordinaire

#mythbuster

#fakenews

#alternativefacts

#internationalstudents

#SuperHeroes

#Mexico

#PresidentVicenteFox

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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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International Student Mobility: 2017 Trends in International Student Recruitment

May 11th, 2017

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ACEI is pleased to share the 2017 report prepared by Study Portals in this week’s blog.  The following is an excerpt from the report. To read the full report, please click here

These days, there is a widespread and wide-ranging conversation about globalization; but only by visiting classrooms in every corner of the world can you see it in action. International students around the world are part of a movement bigger than themselves – a movement involving millions of people at thousands of campuses.

At the moment there are more than 5 million students pursuing their education outside of their home countries – a number three times that of international student enrolments in 1990l. By 2022, the number of internationally mobile students is expected to reach 7 million. The most significant growth in international education comes from Asian students, who are looking to study abroad in English.

International education is now open to the masses, and no longer only available the world’s elite. This expansion is particularly driven by a rising middle class that now exists on every continent.

Student mobility, like many other economic and social principles, follows the laws of supply and demand: The popularity of study destinations correspond to the number of globally-appealing programs that different countries offer, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. These are, unsurprisingly, also the countries with the highest number of English-taught programs around the world.

China’s and India’s rise to the word’s top 10 most powerful economies (and South Korea currently holding the 15th place) has given rise to an increased demand for higher education. These three countries are also leading sources of globally mobile students. One in every six international students now comes from China, while Asian students make up more than a half of the world mobile students.

International education is on a static phenomenon; it is influenced by international politics, changing demographics and economic factors.

What do we expect to see in the cooing year, based on our expert insights and the mountain of data we have gathered on international study choice? Here are our top predictions for the year!

Please click here to read the full report and learn more about Study Portal’s top predictions for 2017.

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Study Portals  is the international Study Choice Platform. StudyPortals’ Mission is “Empowering the world to choose education.” How? By making study choice transparent globally. StudyPortals help universities with easier and more effective international marketing and recruitment solutions.

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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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Tree Trees

May 5th, 2017

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When I was in college, just by chance I ended up at a party for the international students, (free beer) and there, to my surprise, I made some of my best friends to this day. You know when you instantly connect with someone? Romantic or not, it’s rare and there is something special about the sheer dumb luck it would take for a kid from the Netherlands and a kid born an hour and half outside of Los Angeles should meet and become (dare I say it?) best friends.

Not my first friend from out of the country, Ralf and I (pronounced Rolf in Dutch but forced to take Ralph as his American name by sheer repetition) have become close like only a few friends I’ve had in my 26 years. We talk about anything and everything but I would be lying if I said we didn’t discuss the norm for two people from different countries quite frequently, i.e. cultural differences between the US and The Netherlands, the EU, The World at large, long political talks about what’s wrong with America, what’s great about America, what’s wrong with Europe, what’s great about Europe, Life, Humanity. No doubt, it is a big part of our relationship and I enjoy it fully, as I suspect he does.

That being said, I think some of the greatest joys comes from the subtle teasing that comes from a close friendship. Little jabs about “fat Americans” a few remarks about outdated Christmas traditions (see Zwarte Piet) here and there help us recognize the differences between ourselves and our cultures in a way that transcends either, humor.

An example, my best friend Ralf speaks perfect English, it’s just, his accent has him say “tree” instead of three. It makes really no difference with context and so is generally a non-issue. So, one time, near Christmas, we’re at a bar just chatting when Ralf notices funny albeit bawdy ornaments on some trees.

“Look at that tree” he pointed.

With a sly grin I asked him, “How many trees are there?”

Ignoring the odd question, Ralf responded earnestly, “tree”

“Yes Ralf, I know they’re trees, but how many of them are there?”

“Tree”

“So just one?”

“No tree!”

I think my smile gave away the joke and Ralf, realizing my mischief, and being a genuinely great person, tilted his head back in guffaws, causing groups of patrons to stare.

Although small, I think this is one of the better moments of my life, not because of some great accomplishment but the realization that we are heading into a globalist world, and how great it is that our conversations, our relationships, our lives can be enriched and diversified by this. Increasingly in America you hear the term Globalism used as a slur. Those who use “globalist” as a derogatory term could not be more wrong.  The world has always been heading toward globalism and there are so many benefits worthy of discussion: Economic stability, increased understanding and decreased xenophobia, trade. You can expect all this from Globalism…. or maybe you’ll just share a laugh with a new best friend.

Alex Brenner

Alex is a graduate of UCLA’s creative writing program and helps ACEI’s international applicants in his role as Client Relations Officer.

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Student Data Mobility, Diversity and Inclusion, and Emerging Trends for 2017

April 27th, 2017

DARPA_Big_Data

In light of our new administration and changes in the international landscape, there are positive efforts being done to advocate for internationalism and foster partnerships. ACEI and AICE President, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, is in Australia signing the Groningen Declaration on behalf of ACEI and the Association of International Credential Evaluators, Inc. (AICE) to move our profession forward.

What is the Groningen Declaration?

According to their website, “The Groningen Declaration seeks common ground in best serving the academic and professional mobility needs of citizens world wide by bringing together key stakeholders in the Digital Student Data Ecosystem – we make Digital Student Data Portability happen. Citizens world wide should be able to consult and share their authentic educational data with whomever they want, whenever they want, wherever they are.”

Students are technically savvy more than ever. International admissions offices should provide positive messages while adapting to the advances of technology.  More than 80% of international students use their mobile devices to conduct their communication. Not only do we have to address the advancements in technology, we need to provide positive messages that international students and immigrants are welcome and safe at our campuses and in our country. Diversity and inclusion helps foster this message.

What is diversity and inclusion?

Diversity is any aspect that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another, but it also means appreciation of and respect for differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion. Inclusion is about focusing on the needs of everyone and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve their greatest potential.

There are many factors that increase the need for student data mobility:

  • Rising demand for immediate information. There is a huge increase in the use of apps and the need for immediate communication. (Whatsapp, Viber, Tango, WeChat, Skype, etc.).
  • Key players for international student data mobility and referrals include USA, UK, Australia, Germany, Canada, France, China, and New Zealand.
  • Rising popularity of transnationalism. The forces of globalization and transnationalism have transformed many countries once known as immigrant countries into both immigrant and emigrant countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Singapore.
  • Rise of web-based technology and learning. This is often called online learning or e-learning because it includes online course content. Discussion forums via email, videoconferencing, and live lectures (videostreaming) are all possible through the web. Web pages may contain hyperlinks to other parts of the web, giving access to a vast amount of web-based information.
  • Targeting and knowing your audience. By matching international students’ needs will increase engagement and improve significantly the relationship with them, as students want to be in control of the communication preferences. Send not only the right message to the right person at the right time, but also through the right channel.

Here are key trends affecting international education in 2017:

  • The price of oil. Russia, Venezuela, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria all rely heavily on the oil industry, where low oil costs will affect their population and their currency. Countries that depend on oil exports and will be affected by low oil prices.
  • English as a Second Language face-lift. The English language market is finding themselves in competition for market share, so providers are overhauling their course offerings and revamping their programming. Agents are also drivers of this trend as they see added value to English language learning.
  • Instant Messaging marketing. Mobile marketing provides international student offices direct and personal contact with potential students. Instant messaging is immediate and these messages are more targeted and have a higher target success rate.
  • Refugee crisis. During this difficult time, international educators are finding solutions to help students and scholars who were among the millions of refugees seen fleeing war and persecution. There will be an increasing need to assist this population and migrant support and credit recognition will be in the forefront as more educators move to provide scholarships, assistance, and language training.
  • Political climate and our current administration affect internationalism, immigration policy – especially for STEM graduates, H1 visa issues, and overall international relationships shapes our future.

By moving forward best practices and common ground for student data mobility, we can provide the best service to our international students. Pairing this with the message, “You are welcome and safe here,” we can provide positive messages to ensure international student admission growth and stability.

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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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Why is Central European University under attack by the Hungarian government?

April 14th, 2017

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Demonstrators at the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest protesting legislation that would force the closure of Central European University, April 9, 2017. (Photo Credit: The Nation – MTI via AP/Jano Marja)

If you haven’t heard already, on Tuesday, April 4 2017, the Hungarian National Assembly fast-tracked and passed an amendment to a higher education bill that threatens the closing of the Central European University (CEU), a leading university in Europe. According to a report in The New York Times: “The new law requires, among other things, that foreign-accredited universities provide higher education services in their own countries — meaning the United States in the case of Central European University.” CEU has until January 1, 2018 to comply with these new requirements.

CEU, located in Budapest, is accredited in the United States and Hungary and offers degrees in the social sciences, humanities, law, public policy, business management, environmental sciences, and mathematics. CEU attracts students from over 100 countries from around the globe and is revered for its programs in social sciences and humanities.  According to The Times Higher Education, CEU was founded in 1991 as an English-language university by “a group of visionary intellectuals – most of them prominent members of the anti-totalitarian democratic opposition.”

Members of the European Commission of EU’s executive body are investigating this new law imposed by the Hungarian government and questioning is legality. There have also been massive student protests in Hungary who see the government’s heavy handedness as a clampdown on free expression and in retaliation against Mr. George Soros, a financier who sits on CEU’s board. Mr. Soros, according to some observers is seen as an influential global threat by Hungary’s conservative nationalist government.  Even the U.S. has expressed concern and criticized the Hungarian government’s higher education bill and its impact on CEU.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban is unmoved by the criticism and the protests. Mr. Orban’s party is convinced that George Soros is behind the shaping of CEU’s institutional philosophy of inclusion which encourages migration while the Hungarian government opposes it vehemently. Mr. Orban wants to stop migration while he sees Mr. Soros as an advocate of migration who will use money and his political capital to weaken and destabilize governments, such as Hungary, who oppose his philosophy. Mr. Orban has coined the term “Illiberal democracy” by turning liberals into the enemy and arguing that majority rule is more important than minority rights.

With such deeply rooted dislike for liberalism, George Soros, and migration which translates into international students, the future of the Central European University in Hungary looks rather bleak.

Sources:

https://www.oneyoungworld.com/blog/trouble-hungary-central-european-university

https://www.google.com/?trackid=sp-006#q=Central+European+University

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/central-european-university#ranking-dataset/1089

https://www.thenation.com/article/central-european-university-under/

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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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Diversity and Inclusion is The New Initiative for 2017

March 24th, 2017

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Advocacy for our profession of applied comparative education is needed more than ever in 2017. In light of forming new partnerships and celebrating our differences, diversity and inclusion will be the top initiative for 2017.

What is diversity and inclusion?

Diversity is any aspect that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another, but it also means appreciation of and respect for differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion. But let’s look deeper into this thought. We all bring with us diverse views, work experiences, life styles, perspectives, and cultures. How does your institution or organization foster diversity and inclusion? How do you individually?

Some may define inclusion is a state of being valued, respected, endorsed, and supported. It’s also about focusing on the needs of everyone and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve their greatest potential. Inclusion should always be reflected in an organization’s culture, practices and relationships that are in place to support a diverse workforce.

To look at this big picture, diversity is the mix; inclusion is getting the mix to work well together.

For institutions to succeed in the global marketplace, there must be a variety of perspectives. If organizations want to attract and retain the right skills, the best minds, all the aspects needed for success – and that means diversity.

At ACEI, we respect and welcome diversity in our clients, colleagues, friends, and our staff, and it is part of our mission. We strongly advocate for diversity and inclusion. We state as part of our mission, “ACEI is dedicated to the advancement of international academic exchange and understanding through the dissemination of information on world educational systems and evaluation of international educational documents.”

With our new administration, changes in the global landscape, more advances in technology and communications, diversity and inclusion are quickly becoming critical initiatives around the world.

Laura Sippel

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Laura Sippel
Marketing Consultant
Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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Importance of International Students and Immigration to US Higher Education

March 10th, 2017

inflag

As someone who has been actively involved in international education, this article expresses why I’m so passionate about the importance of immigrants and international students. The contributions made by immigrants and international students in the sciences, humanities and arts, economics, medicine, their innovations and inventions are too numerous to list. Yet what the Trump administration has done in less than two months with the enactment of the travel ban, revoking visas of international students, detaining refugees, deporting undocumented immigrants has so negatively impacted our standing in the world and will so deeply hinder and stunt our growth that the effects are far reaching will be felt by all. Immigrants and international students who are considering to legally enter the U.S. are seriously reconsidering their options by turning to friendlier and more hospitable countries to migrate and/or pursue their higher education.

This article by Jonathan R. Cole that recently appeared in The Atlantic sums it up nicely; American universities need international students and immigrants:

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/03/american-universities-need-immigrants/518814/

We all need to stand up and support academic and scholarly exchange rather than erect walls and hide behind them in fear. Aren’t we Americans made of stronger stuff? Where’s our courage? Where’s our foresight?

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

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