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 Little jabs about “fat Americans” a few remarks about outdated Christmas traditions (see Zwarte Piet) here and there help us recognize the differences between ourselves and our cultures in a way that transcends either,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

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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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10 Facts About Melbourne, Australia

April 20th, 2017

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ACEI President & CEO, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert will be traveling to Melbourne, Australia shortly to attend the Gronningen Declaration Network meeting on April 25-27. She will be representing ACEI as well as the Association of International Credential Evaluators and will be joining other invited guests to be a signatory of the GDN. The goal of the GDN is to making Digital Student Data Portability a reality so that citizens world-wide are able to view and share their “authentic educational data with whomever they want, whenever they want, wherever they are.” For more on the GDN, click here.

We thought that given Jasmin’s upcoming to Melbourne, we’ll share some fun facts about this city in southern Australia.

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1. Melbourne is Victoria’s capital city and the business, administrative, cultural and recreational hub of the state. (1)

2. The entire Melbourne metropolitan area covers 9990.5 km2 and has a population of around 4.5 million. (1)

3. Before Melbourne was called Melbourne, it was named Batmania after John Batman, a colonist farmer from Tasmania who landed in Port Philip Bay in May 1835. (2)

4. The Black Box flight recorder was invented in 1958 by Dr. David Warren at the Aeronautical Research Laboratories in Melbourne. Warren’s father had died in a plane crash over the Bass Strait in 1934. (2)

5. According to the RSPCA, Melbourne is officially the fox capital of the world, with between 6 and 23 foxes per square kilometre in the urban area of the city. Despite these numbers, it’s still quite rare to see one! (3)

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6. Melbourne’s tramway system is the largest outside Europe and the fourth largest in the world, stretching along 244km of track and boasting 450 trams. (3)

7. The world’s largest stained-glass ceiling is located in Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria. (3)

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8. Before Canberra, Melbourne was Australia’s capital city between 1901 and 1927. (3)

9. The University of Melbourne is ranked 42nd in the world and is one of the oldest Australian universities, having been established in 1853. It now has over 47,000 students enrolled, including 12,000 international students from 130 countries. The university is highly reputed for its research, with over 100 research centers and institutes and a research expenditure of $850m a year. (4)

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10. Seven universities in Melbourne are featured in the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017, the highest-ranked of which is the University of Melbourne at 42nd in the world – second only to Australian National University on the Australian leaderboard. (5)

Bonus:

11. Known as Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne regularly tops lists of the world’s most livable cities, and is full of all the attractions that make the Australian lifestyle so appealing – including beautiful beaches, nightlife and a fair proportion of sunny days. (5)

Sources:

1.http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/about-melbourne/melbourne-profile/Pages/facts-about-melbourne.aspx

2.https://www.buzzfeed.com/simoncrerar/marvellous-melbs?utm_term=.kvJB0ZkE7#.tlb3NkqAj 

3.https://latrobetimes.blogs.latrobe.edu.au/2016/05/26/15-interesting-facts-melbourne/

4. https://www.topuniversities.com/where-to-study/oceania/australia/guide

5. https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings-articles/qs-best-student-cities/melbourne

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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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Dispatches from Minneapolis, MN

April 7th, 2017

AICE

The Annual AACRAO Conference this year was held in Minneapolis, MN which marked the third and final stop on my Midwest tour of international education-related conferences. Representing both the Association of International Credential Evaluators and the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc., speaking at three sessions, hosting and moderating the 2017 AICE Symposium meant I had a full plate with little time to catch my breath or sightsee. Nicolette Mall, where the Convention Center and the Millennium Hotel I was staying at was under heavy construction leaving the Downtown deserted with little or no evidence of life other than the two thousand AACRAO attendees milling about the Skywalk. Apparently, the construction has been underway for four years and still in progress in preparation for the Super Bowl.

Joined by fellow AICE Endorsed Members Beth Cotter and Aleks Morawski and ACEI’s Marketing Director, Laura Sippel, the early days of the AACRAO Conference kept us occupied with booth duty at the Exhibit Hall and reception hopping in the evenings.

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L-R: Drew Carlisle (AACRAO), Melanie Gottlieb (AACRAO, Deputy Director),
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert (ACEI President & CEO and AICE President)

Attending the International Educators Luncheon stressed the gravity of the new administration’s anti-immigration policies in DC and its negative impact on the flow of students to U.S. institutions of higher education. At the International Educators Reception, an annual event sponsored by the Paver Family Foundation, it was an honor to be recognized by Dr. William Paver, as the incoming Chair of the AACRAO IESC (International Education Standards Council) for EDGE (Electronic Database on Global Education).

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L-R: Aleks Morawski (Director of Evaluations at FC, Endorsed AICE Member), Zepur Solakian (President of CGACC), Bill Paver (President of FCSA &Past AACRAO President), Beth Cotter (President of FCA, Endorsed AICE Member), Jim Bouse (AACRAO President), Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert (President & CEO of ACEI & President of AICE) at the AACRAO Board Reception

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Photo: AACRAO Staff, Board, Sponsors and Special Guests at the International Educators Dinner, Mercy Restaurant in Minneapolis, MN

Though I didn’t attend the Opening Plenary with Garrison Keillor as the featured speaker, I made sure not to miss the Closing Plenary with Danny Glover and Felix Justice as featured speakers, and was not disappointed. Mr. Glover and Mr. Justice spoke of their experiences during the Vietnam Era, the struggles of Civil Rights movement, and ultimately Mr. Glover’s advice that what truly matters, is the connections we make with others and the lives we impact.

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AACRAO Closing Plenary: Danny Glover and Felix Justice

The AICE Symposium “Setting the Standard for Graduate Admissions: Three-year Degrees and Other Admissions Challenges” was kicked off with a wonderful reception at the Mission American Kitchen Bar and Grill. Invited guests, including AACRAO President, Jim Bouse, AACRAO Deputy Director, Melanie Gottlieb and representatives from U.S. universities, AACRAO staff, and AICE Endorsed Members and Affiliates were all in attendance. To say the reception was a smashing success, is an understatement!

The AICE Symposium, a full-day event, was also a success with thirty-one attendees participating in a lively and collegial discussion on topics covering the Bologna three-year bachelor degrees, the three-year bachelor degrees from India, and the three-year bachelor degrees from Australia, South Africa and Israel. Panelists and attendees collaborated in defining guidelines that will help AICE continue refining the Standard document. A full report of the Symposium’s talking points will be available shortly and posted on the AICE website.

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This ends my Midwest tour! My next adventure takes me to the Southern Hemisphere, where I will be attending the Gronningen Declaration Network in Melbourne, Australia, to be one of its invited signatories. Stay tuned!

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

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Spotlight on the AICE 2017 Minneapolis Symposium -Setting the Standard for Graduation Admissions: Three-year Degrees and Other Challenges

March 30th, 2017

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In this week’s blog, we would like to showcase the upcoming Symposium, an annual event, of the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE), which will be held at the Millennial Hotel on April 5-6, 2017 in Minneapolis, MN. As Charter and Endorsed Member of the AICE, the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI) is proud to be part of the AICE 2017 Minneapolis Symposium.

The Symposium will feature several distinguished panels of international education specialists whose perspectives will encourage each of us to reflect on the Symposium theme, Setting the Standard for Graduate Admissions: Three-year Degrees and Other Challenges. This year’s Symposium continues with the spirit of past Symposia highlighting our Association’s steadfast commitment to activate and reinforce dialogue on international credential evaluation standards, methodologies and practices. AICE is proud to have contributed to promoting best practices and collaboration for academic excellence and to strengthen communication among international educators from academia and professional organizations, laying a strong foundation for the development of long-term sustainable partnerships and networks.

For a description of the Symposium’s program, please click here and open the PDF.

Registration for the AICE 2017 Minneapolis Symposium is still open. A few seats are still available. If you are interested in attending, please click here.

Back in October 2014, ACEI posted a blog on India’s attempt to extend its three-year bachelor’s degree by one additional year. The attempt was short-lived, for reasons you’ll find in the blog. Since India is included in one of the modules programmed for the Symposium, we thought it appropriate to repost it in this week’s blog. Click here.

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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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