Tag Archives: credentials

Community Colleges for International Development Conference strengthened International Partnerships

February 25th, 2017

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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

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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!

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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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How To Verify Chinese Degrees

January 5th, 2017

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This was initially posted on June 23rd, 2016

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ACICS Gets Nixed

December 15th, 2016

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Education Secretary John King (Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)

On December 12, 2016, John King, the U.S. Secretary of Education, announced the Education Department‘s final decision to terminate its recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).

ACICS was founded in 1912 as a national accreditor that accredited institutions offering programs in professional, technical, and occupational fields. According to InsideHigherEducation as a national accreditor, the Council “oversees 245 institutions, many of them for-profits, which enroll roughly 600,000 students and collectively received $4.76 billion in federal aid last year.”  ACICS had been the accrediting agency for now-shuttered Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute campuses.

The decision to terminate the Council’s accreditation authority follows extensive investigation by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) which concluded in its report that ACICS “failed to protect students and taxpayers from fraudulent and underperforming colleges.”  In a letter to ACICS, Emma Vadehra, chief of staff to the education secretary wrote she is terminating the department’s recognition of ACICS as a nationally recognized accrediting agency as “ACICS’s track record does not inspire confidence that it can address all of the problems effectively.” ACICS said it would “immediately file litigation seeking injunctive and other relief through the courts.”

The U.S Education Department has given the colleges accredited by ACICS 18 months to find a new accreditor or will lose access to federal aid. Many of the college are turning to other accreditation agencies, in particular the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.  The Department did announce on December 12, 2016 that it was adding new conditions for ACICS-accredited colleges to remain aid eligible that include: monitoring; transparency; oversight and accountability requirements. ACICS-accredited colleges have 10 days to agree to these new conditions or they will not be able to receive federal aid.

For more on this latest development, please visit:

https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/2016/12/acics-loss-of-accreditation-what-it-means-for-schools-and-international-students

https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2016/12/13/education-secretary-drops-recognition-accreditor?utm_content=buffer25e06&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=IHEbuffer

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-09-22/education-department-strips-authority-of-acics-the-largest-for-profit-college-accreditor

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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 Association of International Recruitment Council (AIRC), Miami, FL

December 1st, 2016

I’m here in Miami, FL, at the annual AIRC Conference. International student recruiters, credential evaluators and admissions professionals are looking at the new President-Elect’s nationalist platform with caution wondering whether the new administration will have an adverse affect on the flow of international students to the U.S. Already we are hearing that the recent Brexit vote which led to the United Kingdom exiting the European Union has deterred international students from applying to universities in England. According to the annual Open Doors report of the Institute of International Education, “the number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities grew by 7.1%, to top one million in the 2015-16 academic year.” The report records 10 straight years of growth in the number of international students studying at U.S. campuses, however with the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, concern of the possible negative impact on future enrollments from abroad is on everyone’s mind.

We are already hearing the chatter that international students, fearing the new administration’s hard-right, nationalist, anti-globalist and xenophobic policies are looking to countries such as Australia and Canada to continue their studies. This collective cautiousness on the part of the international students and international education professionals is mainly because we know virtually nothing about the Trump Administration’s higher education policies as he has not articulated any specific initiatives or policies during his presidential campaign or even now in the days leading to his inauguration. The new administration will most likely be more friendly toward to the for-profit higher education industry and less interested in diversity and affirmative action. In fact, there is talk about monitoring university faculty whose teachings may have a “liberal” bias.  What is inevitable is that many of the initiatives of the Obama Administration will be scrapped.

Education on the international front will most likely take a hit. The image of the United States as a “welcoming country” for international students and scholars will be tarnished and it will take a long time to rebuild and restore it. Even though, Trump has singled out his ire toward Muslims and Mexicans, the sentiment is felt by all foreigners who see themselves as being targeted by this viewpoint.

The immediate future of U.S. higher education and international students may be bleak but one factor that will keep the American higher education system in the positive light is that it is still a strong and attractive option in the global perspective. Most of the top universities are located in blue states which embrace a friendlier and more hospitable outlook toward international students and scholars.

Here at AIRC and in meeting with international recruiters from the world and the U.S., it is evident that education agents are preparing themselves by ramping up their marketing efforts to keep the international students’ interest from waning and encouraging them to study in the U.S.  Attracting international students whose impression of the U.S. as an unwelcoming country under Donald Trump will be a challenging task for international recruiters. These are unchartered waters we are entering into as we see a wave of anti-globalism, nationalism and xenophobia appearing in not just the UK, US, but also in France, Spain, Austria, Germany, and Poland. The question is how we will navigate this unwelcoming and somewhat hostile environment in order to protect the integrity of U.S. higher education as the preferred destination for international students.

Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

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

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

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Life Abbreviated

10/20/16

omg

On my way to work this morning, I stopped by the German bakery nearby.

Me: Hi! (Trying my best to greet the young staff with my cheery presence.)

Server (20-something male with bleached blonde spiked hair): no response, a simple nod.

Me: Plain croissant, please.

He reaches inside the display case and from the assortment and selects a flaky croissant which he then places in a small paper bag. He hands me the bag, punches some keys on the cash register and says: “Three.”

Three? Three, what? I wondered. What did he mean? Was he asking me if I wanted three croissants? Was he talking to someone else? Party of three? Then it dawned on me. Aha! It’s the cost. He’s telling me it’s three dollars. The young man didn’t even look up and stared at the cash register. He, the product of today’s Twitter/Snapchat, ‘talk-to-the-screen-and-not-to-my- face-generation’ had pretty much cut through the chase and just like an abbreviated text message or Tweet quoted me the amount. There were no niceties or extraneous words. Straight and to the point, he’d muttered “three.” Gone were the words: “That’ll be three dollars, please.” Or, “would you like anything else?”

I reached into my wallet and handed him three single dollar bills and left feeling disconnected and somewhat forlorn. I realize it’s cliché to rant against technology and social media and how we’re hiding behind our gadgets and avoiding face-to-face communication, but there is truth to it.  Machines are doing all our talking for us as though speaking is just too much of a chore. People aren’t even uttering the words “I love you” anymore. Instead, they join their index fingers and thumbs in the shape of a heart or text an emoji of a happy face blowing heart kisses bookended by multi-colored hearts.

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But, maybe its in our nature to look at shortcuts. Technology and social media are taking care of it for us today, and even as far back as when the Pilgrims rolled in, our forefathers were looking at ways of shrinking words in the English language by cutting out letters they saw as useless. Though, for the life of me, why even have letters in words if they remain silent? For a primer on how this came about, watch this video:

You may be wondering what this rant has to do with international credential evaluations? Absolutely nothing and everything. But, those of you in the world of credential evaluations know exactly what I’m speaking of: there are many in our field who are looking for a shortcut and the quick answer to what are sometimes the gray and complicated areas of international transcripts and degree evaluations.

goaround

Churning out evaluations by the hundreds, like a sausage-making factory, oblivious of the nuances surrounding each case and the needs of the specific institution and applicant by skirting standards and ignoring good customer service is becoming more and more de rigueur. (Yes, I thought since I’m on a rant, I might as well show off my 5th grade knowledge of French). I get it, time is of essence…time is money, blah, blah, blah. Institutions and private (profit and non-profits) organizations all have a bottom line, They need to be productive and show healthy numbers and a fast or quicker way of doing it is the desired method. Except, when we do it at the expense of research, critical analysis, and veer off the path of best practices. Then we’re in trouble and trouble has a way of catching up with us, maybe not today, but soon, in the near future. Price of becoming a society of ‘short-cutters’.

Frustrated
Frustrated Evaluator

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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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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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