Tag Archives: Credential Evaluations

Community Colleges for International Development Conference strengthened International Partnerships

February 25th, 2017

ccid

ACEI attended the Community Colleges for International Development (CCID) 41st Annual Conference last week in beautiful Houston. The conference theme, “Aligning the Stars” was the perfect theme to align the stars for international partnerships.

CCID recognized their board member organizations for their leaderships in internationalization ranging from Washington State, Australia, Denmark, Japan, Canada, Iowa, Honolulu and so many more U.S. cities and states. It truly was an international event!

The conference was kicked off with welcoming remarks from Lone Star College Chancellor, Dr. Steve Head, who said that he appreciates us – the hardworking faculty, staff, researchers, partners, and administrators for inspiring their students and alumni. He said our commitment and contributions to CCID are what moves us forward. And move forward we did! The conference atmosphere was very collegial and positive.  Many partnerships were formed with ACEI.

ACEI was very well received by many U.S. colleges and international organizations as we discussed the importance of the exchange of information and research.  In this positive light, we discussed how credential evaluation reports and research from ACEI can help strengthen the relationships between international organizations and the U.S.

Dr. Chris Whitaker, Chair of the CCID Board of Directors and President of Humber College in Canada, reinforced the continuing theme of partnering by saying, “I hope that each of you finds this conference to be a useful, dynamic opportunity to establish new partnerships and to strengthen connections already in place.” He also stressed we need to explore new initiatives and trends in our fields.

Mara Anderson, Executive Director of CCID, was absent due to the very recent birth of her child. She sent an upbeat message that she was thrilled to bring everyone together in CCID’s own backyard and that Houston is a wonderful home and resource to CCID, as one of the most diverse cities in the U.S.

The pre-conference workshops ranged from study abroad programs to intercultural awareness training. The sessions presented a wonderful assortment of topics including collaboration towards global understanding to how Community Colleges can stay engaged.

In this time of uncertainty of internationalism, the relationships formed with ACEI will be ever lasting. There was excellent exchange of ideas, tactics, and goals for international partnering. And our red cowboy hats were a complete hit!

Laura Sippel

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

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The never ending case of Credential Fraud and Misrepresentation

January 19th, 2017

mill

On January 5, 2017, the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA), frustrated with the continued proliferation of diploma mills and fraudulent qualifications, made a bold announcement that it will name and shame holders of these bogus degrees and diplomas.  The SAQA has established a national registry where those found guilty of having misrepresented their achievements with the use of fake degrees will be listed and said registry will be made public.

The issue of diploma mills and misrepresentation of academic documents is not new but it is a growing problem which continues to fester in countries around the world.  Here at ACEI, we realize the importance of doing our due diligence in vetting and verifying academic documents and ensuring that they are in fact issued by legitimate educational institutions to individuals who have duly earned them through actual attendance and participation in classes and coursework validated by final examinations.

From time to time, we share tips we’ve gleaned from our years of experience with academic documents and in this week’s blog we’d like to do exactly that and repost a comprehensive to-do list for you. We welcome any tips you would like to add to this list.

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 and eliminate fraud.

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

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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How To Verify Chinese Degrees

January 5th, 2017

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This was initially posted on June 23rd, 2016

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The Many Benefits of International Students at U.S. Campuses

12/30/16

interstudents

As we come to the end of 2016, we’d like to dedicate this final blog for the year to international students and the myriad of benefits they bring to the economic and cultural fabric of the U.S  Let’s take a closer look.

Economic Benefits

The economic benefits of having international students on U.S. campuses are impressive. According to the Brookings Institute, foreign students “paid $22 billion in tuition between 2008 and 2013 as well as at least $13 billion in living expenses.” According to the U.S. Department of Commerce: “In 2015, International students contributed more than $30.5 billion to the U.S. economy, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.”

International students are able to fund their education in the U.S. through funds they receive from personal and family sources outside the U.S. They also receive financial support from their home country governments or universities.

Additional breakdowns of economic impact by state and Congressional District, calculated using IIE’s Open Doors enrollment figures, are available on the NAFSA International Student Economic Value Tool website.

Take a look at the chart below to see the countries which send most of the students to study in the U.S. These numbers grew from approximately 975,000 in 2015 to 1,043,839 in 2016.

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Source: The Atlantic

Cultural, Scientific, Technical Research Benefits

In addition to the economic benefits of having international students on U.S. campuses, the cultural gains are equally positive and impactful. The benefits of American students who actively engage and interact with international students on their college campuses are tremendously positive and impactful. American students exposed to and interacting with international students are more likely to read or speak a foreign language, appreciate art, music, literature of different cultures, and view current problems in historical perspective. They also are more likely to be more open minded and curious and interested to reexamine their political and religious viewpoints and their beliefs about other races or ethnicities. They may even consider traveling outside the U.S. or studying abroad.

Another significant benefit of having international students studying in the United States is that they contribute to America’s scientific and technical research. They bring with them international perspectives and stories of their personal experiences into U.S. classrooms. All these contribute to helping prepare American college students to be better equipped for careers in the global job market and in many cases helps them build and foster longer-term business relationships and economic benefits with their international student counterparts after graduation.

This reminds me of a taxi ride I once had from the airport in Reno, NV to a conference hotel. When I told the driver that I was attending a conference on international education, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him lecture me on the many benefits his city receives from its foreign students. He cited how international students contribute to the city’s businesses through their purchases, renting apartments, leasing or buying cars, paying insurance, going to the movies, eating at restaurants, and so much more. Clearly, he got it! And let’s not forget that many international students bring with them their spouses and children for the duration of their studies and these additional persons also help the economy. According to NAFSA, for the 2013-2014 academic year, “international students and their families at colleges and universities across the U.S. contributed $26.8 billion to the U.S. economy and supported 340,000 jobs. Compared to the previous academic year, this is nearly a 12 percent increase in dollars contributed to the economy and an 8.5 percent increase in job support and creation.” Another important and positive side effect of having international students on U.S. campuses which NAFSA found is that “three U.S. jobs are created or supported for every seven international students enrolled. These jobs are in higher education, accommodation, dining, retail, transportation, telecommunications, and health insurance.”

These economic benefits have not gone unnoticed by countries such as Canada, UK, and Australia who are aggressively seeking ways to attract and recruit international students to their institutions. Though, at this time, the UK–having undergone the Brexit referendum– is taking a harsher stand against international students. We, in the international education community, urge our representatives in Washington and the incoming administration to take the significance of international students and their contributions to the U.S. economy and the fabric of our higher education into serious consideration before embarking on any anti-immigration policies and legislations. A negative and hostile stand against immigration if not clearly defined will alienate the international students who enter the U.S. legally on student visas and deter them from seeking the U.S. as their higher education destination. They will in turn look to friendlier countries like Canada and Australia. The U.S. will have a great deal to lose.

Useful Links:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2016/11/21/where-americas-international-students-come-from-infographic/#708592224669

https://today.duke.edu/2013/06/internationalengage

http://immigrationimpact.com/2014/11/19/international-students-add-billions-u-s-economy/

http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20150212092452773

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/11/globalization-american-higher-ed/416502/

http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/international-students-united-states

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

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Sharing a Reality (in International Education)

September 8th, 2016

minds

With the oh-so-fun election season in full swing here in the U.S., it is more difficult than usual to ignore how people can operate in such different realities. People can’t seem to agree on what is a “fact”. In many cases, this is for good reason, because so much around us has subjective meaning.

However, a shared reality does seem to exist. If it didn’t, then mathematics would be meaningless. The “fact” that 1+1=2 is true for you, for me, and for everyone connects us all, independent of our subjective realities. Fantastically, this also seems to mean that if a group of different people living in their own subjective worlds can collectively learn enough about our shared reality, they can successfully invent something that will blast off from our planet and fly to a precise place in the previously unexplored depths of space-time! And then do it again, and again!

Working in international education with credentials, I sometimes feel like I’m searching for relationships between separate “educational realities”.  Of course, credentials and educational situations are complicated issues involving a significant amount of subjective human behavior. As a result, simple arithmetic is insufficient for understanding comparative education, and we may never have credential evaluation solutions as precise as the results of a mechanical-physics equation. Nonetheless, I certainly believe we can reduce biased decision making in our field and improve fair treatment of applicants by using transparent and consistent, evidence-oriented methods. Eventually, if we collect and exchange enough information in a coherent manner, we might even build our own shared reality in international education!

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Drew Feder

Drew Feder co-founded Credential Consultants in 2007 and is a lead designer of Credential ConnectionTM software and the GRADE DatabaseTM, as well as co-author of the GRADE MethodTM. Drew began working in the credentials evaluation industry in 2004 as an evaluator and immediately became involved in management of production and customer service. Since then, Drew served as a Communications Director, General Manager and Evaluator for organizations including the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE). Drew studied at Johns Hopkins University and Colorado College, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in International Political Economy in 2003, and is acting President of Credential Consultants.” www.credentialconsultants.com

Credential Consultants is an Affiliate Member of Association of International Credential Evaluators

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AN EVALUATOR’S JOURNEY

August 19th, 2016

Sunset

When I accepted my mother’s invitation to accompany her to a cocktail party, I did so reluctantly. It was July 1982 and as a freshly minted college grad with a BA in Political Science the last thing I wanted to do was attend a party with my mother. It turned out to be the best thing I could have done as I left the party with not one but three job offers. I decided to forgo the offer of working at a law office (even though I was toying with the idea of going to Law School), or a real estate office (numbers were not my forte) and chose instead to accept the hostess’s invitation to work at her private not-for-profit Foundation that specialized in international education research and evaluation. The rest, as they say is history. Over a course of thirteen years, I worked my way up the proverbial ladder from file clerk, to junior then senior evaluator, assistant to associate director and finally as Executive Director. Bitten by the entrepreneur spirit and an MBA in hand, I bid goodbye to my mentor and founded the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI) in 1994.

You can say I was born into the field of International education. Beginning from an early age by insisting on “working” at the education firm my mother headed in Tehran, Iran, to attending an international boarding school in England, and continuing my higher education in the U.S. The same is true for my brother and business partner, Alan Saidi, who joined me at ACEI in 1996 as Senior VP and COO. Together, we have infused into ACEI our personal life experiences of having lived in three different continents and benefiting from three different education systems (Iran, UK, and USA). Our mission has always been to make ACEI a company that truly cares for and values its international candidates who are considering to further their education, or qualify for employment, immigration or professional licensing or maybe they are displaced because of war and conflict and seeking refuge in the U.S.

Our own experiences, as international students morphed into immigrants, have enriched our understanding of the dreams of international students, immigrants and the plight of refugees. We have also garnered a deep appreciation of world cultures and the varied nuances of education systems around the world. Together with a team of expert evaluators we pride ourselves in ACEI’s history of over 22 years of dedicated service in international credential evaluation and helping our colleagues at U.S. schools and colleges with the admission of students from around the globe. We continue to share our experience through our e-learning training programs, our blog AcademicExchange, our monthly newsletter The Report, and by contributing to publications on world education systems, and speaking at various international education conferences.

As an Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators, we at ACEI are committed in preparing evaluations by recommending U.S. educational equivalencies that are consistent and in compliance with the Association’s Standards and Best Practices.

If you are exploring opportunities of outsourcing your international student credential evaluations, we hope you will consider ACEI as your number one source. You and your international students will receive the personal care and attention we know you deserve. It is our mission to be of service and we want to be your trusted source for international credential evaluations.

Kind regards,
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

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

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Happy 22nd Birthday ACEI!

April 1st, 2016

Today, we celebrate ACEI’s 22nd anniversary. And, this is not an April Fool’s joke! We are incredibly grateful for the trust and confidence placed on us by all our institutional and organizational clients as well as our international candidates who show their support through their referrals.

For those who may not be familiar with ACEI, I’d like to provide highlights of what we do and who we serve.

  • ACEI was founded and incorporated in the State of California in 1994.
  • ACEI is a Charter and proud Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators, a leading professional membership association which approves and endorses private organizations providing international credential evaluation services after a rigorous screening and vetting process.
  • ACEI offers evaluations of international academic and professional credentials of individuals who have studied outside the U.S. and need statements of academic equivalence.
  • ACEI evaluation reports are recognized by U.S. schools, colleges, universities, state regulatory boards, professional associations, employers, state and federal agencies.
  • ACEI has served tens of thousands of international candidates seeking evaluations of their academic credentials.
  • ACEI offers comprehensive course-by-course evaluations which include listings of subjects/courses, credits/units of credit (for post-secondary education), grades and grade point average, and course levels.
  • ACEI evaluations are based on official/original academic documents issued by the source institutions.
  • ACEI evaluations are prepared within 7 business days from the date the application and required documents are received.
  • ACEI provides RUSH processing for those applications that are to be expedited.
  • ACEI evaluation reports are released either electronically to the U.S. institution/agency for which it is intended or issued on transcript security paper and released by post.
  • ACEI provides a Translation Service.
  • ACEI business hours are from Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM PST. During our regular business hours, applicants and institutional clients can communicate with our Client Relations Officers by phone or email. Even during our non-business hours, applicants and clients have the benefit of speaking with live and helpful client service representatives. No automated answering machines!
  • ACEI senior evaluators have and continue to contribute as presenters at regional, national and international conferences on international education and to publications on country specific education topics.
  • ACEI provides webinar and e-learning programs on international credentials evaluation, updates on education systems from around the world, and reports on trends in higher education from student mobility, recruitment, to innovative approaches in teaching methodology.
  • ACEI issues a free monthly newsletter “The Report.”
  • ACEI remains engaged through social media sites as Facebook, Twitter and through its weekly blog “Academic Exchange.”

The above are a few highlights of ACEI’s achievements. 22 years of service is definitely not a joke. It has taken commitment, passion for our profession, dedication to quality and integrity in our evaluation, due diligence, and plain old hard work that has kept the ACEI engine purring and humming through the years. And, we couldn’t have done it without the help of loyal and dedicated individuals who make ACEI a socially conscious company where the bottom line isn’t just about profits, but how we treat our employees, our clients, but the community as a whole.

I’d like to recognize the services of the following individuals who help make ACEI a model for excellence and integrity:

Brian Aguilar
Client Relations Officer

Soheil Askarian
IT Specialist

Mary Baxton
Senior Credential Evaluator and our Latin American Specialist

Scott Brown
Client Relations Officer

Sajin Gacina
Senior Credential Evaluator and our Eastern European Specialist

Matthew Fisher
Senior Credential Evaluator and our Middle East Specialist

Behnam Heshejin and Grace Morillo
Accounting Service

Jennifer Hutnich
Senior Credential Evaluator and our African and Western European Specialist

Katherine Kang
Senior Credential Evaluator, and our South East Asia Specialist research and investigative analyst extraordinaire

Nora Khachetourian
Director of Evaluation & Translation Services and our Editor-in-Chief

Alex Martinez
Client Relations Officer

Yolinisse Moreno
Communication and Marketing

John Riley
Social Media Manager

George Renfro
Web Master

Alan Saidi
Senior VP & COO and uber senior credential evaluator

Sal Sarhangi
IT Guru

Scruffy
ACEI’s Resident Feline and Stress Relief Manager

scruffy
Photo Credit: Brian Aguilar; Graphics: Yoli Moreno (!)

William (Scottie) Thompson
Administrative Assistant with a big heart

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

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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