Tag Archives: education

Importance of International Students and Immigration to US Higher Education

March 10th, 2017

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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?

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

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US-Iran History of Research and Collaboration

March 3rd, 2017

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Iran is included on list of the travel ban on entry for nationals from seven majority-Muslim nations in President Donald Trump’s recent Executive Order. One thing many may not know is the collaborative relationship in research and researcher mobility that exists between the US and Iran. The US and Iran have been benefiting from this collaborative relationship which has been the strongest of all the 6 countries according to the Elsevier’s. However, with Iran selected as one of the countries targeted by the travel ban this relationship is expected to be damaged effecting universities around the world.

Data from Elsevier’s SciVal and Scopus databases show how strong the research ties are between the US and Iran. The following is the Elsevier data as reported in The Times Higher Education:

  • US academic relationships with Iran are by far the strongest of the seven nations targeted by the order. In fact, the US and Iran have had a long history of maintaining close academic relations and collaborating in research endeavors as far back as the 1960’s.
  • Between 2011 and 2015, US researchers co-authored 8,821 papers with Iranian scientists. (Note: This makes Iran the US’s 36th closest collaborator in research, close behind the Republic of Ireland.)
  • US-Iran co-authored papers had a field-weighted citation impact (widely regarded as an indicator of the quality of research) of 1.84. This compares with a citation impact of 1.46 for US-only authored papers and 0.84 for Iran-only authored papers. The world average is about 1.0.
  • Medicine, engineering and physics and astronomy are the main fields in which US and Iranian researchers collaborate.
  • 1,500 Iranian researchers active in publications have moved to the US long term since 1996.
  • The average field-weighted citation impact of these Iranian researchers who moved to the US is 1.93, well above the average for researchers who remain in Iran (0.88) and marginally above the average for researchers who do not leave the US (1.92).
  • Another 2,900 Iranian researchers were classed as “transitory” and spending most of their time in the US in that period, with an even higher average field-weighted citation impact of 2.21.
  • According to the Institute of International Education, Iran was the 11th largest country of origin for international students enrolling at US universities and colleges in 2015-16. Iranian student enrolment increased by 8.2 per cent to 12,269, “the highest US enrollment by Iranians in 29 years”, the IIE said in its 2016 Open Doors

If the US limits entry to Iranian national, the number of internationally co-authored papers will decline and in turn effect the quality of its research.

Links:

List of Iranian-Americans in Silicon Valley and Beyond: https://www.forbes.com/sites/elizabethmacbride/2015/12/20/100-influential-iranian-americans-in-silicon-valley-and-beyond/#7f97aeb37c2f

List of Prominent Iranian-Americans:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Iranian_Americans

https://ir.usembassy.gov/education-culture/prominent-iranian-americans/

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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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30 Facts on the Education System of Iran

February 16th, 2017

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After intense negotiations, on July 14, 2015, the U.S. and five other world powers have reached a deal to freeze Iran’s nuclear program for the next decade in exchange for gradual sanctions relief that rolls out as Iran complies with a multi-step process. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ensures that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.  And now, in 2017, with the recent travel ban imposed by the Trump Administration against Iran and six other countries, we thought it would be helpful to revisit the blog we had written on Iran in July 2015.

Given these recent developments, we would like to spotlight Iran and share with you the following facts on the country and its education system:

1. Iran is one of the oldest nations in the world, with a history dating back tens of thousands of years. The country’s first great city, Susa, was built on the central plateau around 3200 B.C.

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2. Iran (pronounced ee-RAHN), formerly known as Persia, is situated at the crossroads of Central Asia, South Asia, and the Arab states of the Middle East. The name “Iran” means “land of the Aryans.”

3. Iran is a republic in Central Asia, sharing a border with seven countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, and Turkmenistan.

4. It has been officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979.

5.Iran is a Shiite Muslim country, but the majority of its people are Persian, not Arab.

6. Iran’s capital is Tehran.

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Tehran: Azadi Monument (formerly Shahyad Monument)

7. Iran has a population of 80,840,713 (median age 28) and covers an area that is 636,372 square miles (1,648,195 square kilometers), slightly smaller than Alaksa.

8. Official language of instruction in Iran is Farsi/Persian. English and/or French are taught in most private schools.

9. According to 2015 estimates, the literacy rates of total population age 15 and over is 86.8% of which 92.1% are male and 82.5% are female.

10. According to 2013 reports, Iran spends 3.7 of GDP on education.

11. Starting with 7th grade, English is taught as a second language in all public schools and is compulsory through the secondary level years.

12. Primary school is called “Dabestan” and includes grades 1 to 5 (ages 6 to 11). At the end of the 5th year, students take a nation-wide exam which they must pass in order to continue to the next cycle.

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13. Middle school is called Rahnamaei also known as Lower Secondary School (Guidance) and includes grades 6 to 8 (ages 11 to 14). At the end of the 3rd year of middle school, students take a region-wide exam administered by the local provisional board of education which they must pass in order to continue to the next cycle.

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14. Secondary school is called Dabirestan and includes grades 9 to 12 (ages 14 to 17). The 4th year of grade 12 includes a college-preparatory year known as Pish-daneshgahi. In dabirestan, students choose subjects from either one of two tracks: 1) academic/general track that includes a] physics-mathematics, b] socio-economics, c] literature and culture, and d] experimental sciences; or 2) technical/vocational track in such areas as business and agriculture. On completion of 3 years of study (Grade 11), students receive their diploma before they are determined eligible to continue onto the 12th year (Grade 12) pish-daneshgahi studies.

15. Pre-university or Pish-Daneshgahi is the 4th year extension (Grade 12) to secondary school and last one year. It is an intensive year of study intended to prepare students for the national university entrance examination known as the Concour.

16. The Concour determines students’ chances to enter public and some private universities in Iran. It is a very challenging examination and only a minority of students who take it are successful in passing.

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Photo Credit:PressTV – University Entrance Exam (Concours) in Tehran

17. At the higher education level, Iran has private, public and state affiliated universities.

18. Universities, institutes of technology, medical schools, and community colleges make up the higher education sector.

19. Except for medical schools, all state-run universities are under the direct supervision of the Iranian Ministry of Science, Research and Technology. Medical schools are under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, Treatment, and Medical Education.

20. Currently, there are over 50 public universities and over 40 public institutions specializing in medical study and 200 private postsecondary institutions in Iran.

21. Tuition at public universities is free.

22. Private institutions charge fees.

23. The largest private institution in Iran is Islamic Azad University.

24. Women make up more than 60 percent of the college population in Iran but less than 20 percent of the working population.

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25. Out of 1.176 million people registered for higher education in the Iranian academic year of 2012-2013, women accounted for 522,248 (44.38 percent) while men’s share stood at 654,593 (55.62 percent).

26.The number of female university students also increased by almost twofold from 1,231,035 in the Iranian academic year of 2005-2006 to 2,106,639 in 2012-2013.

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Photo Credit: Ebrahim Norrozi/AP – Iranian women, shown here in downtown Tehran, are among groups in the country pushing for social and economic change.

27. Distance learning degree programs are provided mainly by the University of Payam-e-Hour.

28. University degrees in Iran include:
• Kardani (formerly Fogh-Diplom) – 2-year program equivalent to the Associate degree;
• Karshenasi (formerly Licence) – 4-year program equivalent to the Bachelor’s degree;
• Karshenasi Arshad (formerly Fogh-Licence) – 2-year program beyond the Karshenasi equivalent to the Master’s degree;
• Doctora (Doctorate) degree – 3-year program; requires a master’s (Karshenasi) degree for admission and is awarded on completion of 60 semester units and passing a comprehensive exam before entering the research phase of the program, during which they prepare and defend their dissertation.
• Specialized Doctorates – Degrees in dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine are awarded after 6 years of study and a thesis and require completion of the pre-university year for admission.

29. Grading system at primary through university is based on a 0-20 scale. At the primary, secondary level, and undergraduate levels, an average grade of 10 is required for promotion to the next academic grade. At the graduate level the minimum average grade is 12 and in doctoral programs the minimum average is 14.

30. Every year about 150,000 highly talented Iranians emigrate in what the International Monetary Fund calls the highest brain drain in the world.

Bonus Fact:
31. Since we love cats here at ACEI, here’s a bonus fact on the Persian cat; one of the world’s oldest breeds. They originated in the high plateaus of Iran where their long silky fur protected them from the cold. Italian traders brought the breed to Europe in the 17th century, where they became an exotic status symbol. (source: Rajendra, Vijeya, Gisela Kaplan, and Rudi Rajendra. 2004. Iran (Cultures of the World). New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish.)

Helpful links & Sources:
https://www.educationusairan.com/edu-professionals/education-systems
http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/iran_statistics.html
http://www.snipview.com/q/Schools_in_Iran
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ir.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14541327

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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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Recognition of refugees’ qualifications – Norwegian and European experiences and solutions

February 2nd, 2017

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Early and effective evaluation of refugees’ qualifications and skills, including those refugees who hold qualifications but lack proper documentation, is a critical measure to ensure that refugees are able to enter the labour market or pursue further studies as quickly as possible. As a result, both society and the individual can benefit from rapid and effective integration processes.

The Lisbon Recognition Convention clearly states that the Parties are committed to the establishment of a system for recognition of qualifications held by refugees, displaced persons and persons in a refugee-like situation. This applies even in cases in which the qualifications obtained cannot be proven through documentary evidence (Article VII).

Since 2005, Norway has attempted to implement a special recognition procedure for this target group. In 2012, NOKUT developed a unique recognition scheme for refugees, displaced persons and persons in a refugee-like situation. The UVD-procedure is a centralized recognition procedure administered by NOKUT. Academics from HEIs assist NOKUT, through a thorough and structured process, to reach legally binding decisions on recognition.

In 2015, with the record-high numbers of arrivals of refugees in Europe, NOKUT saw the need re-think recognition procedures for refugees. NOKUT and UK NARIC proposed the idea of establishing a European Qualification Passport for Refugees, bearing in mind the legacy of the Nansen passport.

In the 2016 pilot project – NOKUT’s Qualifications Passport for Refugees – the methodology was tested. The procedure has already become part of the Norwegian recognition scheme, with a focus on the integration of refugees.

In 2017, a similar methodology will be the basis for a pilot project in Greece, administered by the Council of Europe and Greek Ministry of Education, Science and Religious Affairs, to test out a European Qualifications Passport for Refugees. In the Erasmus+ funded project Toolkit for Recognition of Refugees, in which several European partners participate, a testing of similar methodology will carried out.

NOKUT believes the Qualifications Passport for Refugees is the optimal tool for recognition of refugees’ qualifications. In the procedure, higher education qualifications are assessed based on available documentation and a structured interview. The resulting document, in addition, summarizes and presents available information on the applicant’s, work experience and language proficiency. Bearing this in mind, the document aims at providing credible and reliable information essential to integration and progression towards employment, upskilling and admission to further studies.

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Stig Arne Skjerven is Director of Foreign Education at NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education) and Head of the Norwegian ENIC-NARIC, where he oversees the recognition of foreign qualifications in accordance with the Lisbon Convention and advises policy in the areas of education, recognition, labor markets and integration. Prior to his time at NOKUT, Stig Arne was the Director of Academic Affairs at Aalesund University College, Norway and a political adviser for the Association of Norwegian Students Abroad (ANSA). He has gained additional experience from various national and international committees and working groups on higher education and has presented at several international conferences and seminars on themes such as recognition, policy, marketing and recruitment. Stig Arne is currently a member of the EAIE General Council, the ENIC-NARIC Board and the Drafting Committee of the global convention of recognition of higher education qualifications.

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Vive la Différence!

January 12th, 2017

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I was lucky to be invited by Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, the President and CEO of ACEI (Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute) to attend an event at the residence of the French Consul General in Beverly Hills, on Monday, January 6.

The event was the reception for the France Alumni USA Launch. The idea is to enable meaningful connections between those who have lived and studied in France and now find themselves living back in the states, with the French Culture here in Los Angeles, as well to encourage students from France to study in the U.S.  At least on the surface.

The event marked the latest endeavor to form new cultural alliances between Francophile/ Francophone professionals in the arts, science and technology. Many of us there, in fact most of us spoke both English and French, and presentations were done in both languages.

Considering the troubling transitions of government–– in our own presidential election and the up-coming April presidential election in France, it is imperative that we find new ways to better understand each other to work together to create new paradigms for our respective societies.

How people go out into the world for life, business, pleasure, and even love, is greatly affected by their own cultural pre-dispositions. It is so important to learn a new culture, to immerse yourself in its language, customs, and ideas to facilitate and anticipate and resolve differences in fulfilling and constructive ways.

The French Consul General, Christophe Lemoine, warmly, and easily charmed the audience by acknowledging the joys and appreciation of French wine, culture and history, and extoling the virtues and strengths of the French education system. He explained how important it is that we continue to seek out and foster an educational exchange between our two countries, and invited several speakers to share their points of view on “Multi-Cultural” immersion. This exchange is particularly successful in the exchange of cultural and artistic endeavors.

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Learning a second language was once a must in U.S. education. I was one of the lucky ones, having studied French from Second grade all the way through high school and college. I even went to live and study in France and on that night found myself in familiar company.

Not only did it gift me with the confidence of being able to travel almost anywhere in the world and communicate, it opened the receptors in my brain to the ability to learn and absorb language in general, encouraging me to learn other languages, in my case Spanish and German.  I doubt I would have done that without learning French, and immersing myself in French culture from a very early age.

Albeit through colonial conquer and rule, the French culture spread and became the lingua franca in most of the world, enabling people to communicate when they did not share a common language. In 1920, The League of Nations pronounced French as the official Language of Diplomacy worldwide. Up until 1990 my US Passport was written in both French and English, then was changed to include Spanish as well. I so appreciate that!

I love speaking other languages, because it has allowed me to truly understand the way people think, their cultural expressions in art, business, spiritual beliefs and life. It is like a magic key to a doorway one did not realize was previously there.

That evening, we stood at a table with a young, married, bi-cultural couple; she is French and he is American. They met while attending a university in France.  Obviously, a successful cultural exchange! She is in International Admissions/Student Affairs here at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California and shared with us the alarming fact: Due to the recent shift in presidential powers here and the non-inclusive immigration platform of the incoming party, she has noticed a steep drop-off in queries from students around the world, wishing to study here in the United States. Prospective students are of course mirroring global feelings of uncertainty and concern.

I asked her husband what he perceived were the differences between the education systems in France and those of the U.S. His response was quick at hand. He said that in France they teach following a pedagogic model of passive listening to lectures, while in the U.S, students have access and the ability to have meaningful discourse with teachers, aids and other students.  While he loved and greatly benefited from the more well-rounded studies required in France, he preferred the more engaged creative model in the American Universities.

This just made the feeling of needing to connect on a variety of different levels with those outside the United States an even stronger imperative for myself and many of the people we talked to. We the people, have, to find ways to come together, as our governments are not presently setting exemplary standards.

That creative and collaborative exchange of ideas, was really, what the evening was about. Finding a pathway in challenging and rapidly changing times, to engage in new ways of creative collaboration across many platforms: the arts, sciences, technology and of course education, to change and enrich our selves and the societies we live in.

Vive la différence.

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Jeannie Winston is a frequent guest blogger for ACEI’s Academic Exchange. Jeannie is an artist and writer living and working in Los Angeles, California. Jeannie completed her undergraduate studies in Illustration at The Arts Center of Pasadena, California.  Her vast and intricate knowledge of Los Angeles and its cultural history bring a new perspective to our understanding of the City of Angels. She draws her inspiration from the natural and inhabited world around her. She is especially inspired by her observations of cultural fusions and how people strive to invoke spirit in daily life.

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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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A New Internationalization Strategy

December 8th, 2016

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Continuing with our thread on the impact of a Trump Presidency on international education and internationalization as a whole, I found the blog recently posted by EAIE to be spot on. In the words of one of the authors of the blog, “… the task of regularly scanning the external environment to identify both opportunities and threats is now more critical than ever.”  This was most evident at the recent AIRC conference in Miami, FL and I’m certain that the discussion will only escalate in urgency in the months to come.

We can choose to look at the ramification of what a Trump Presidency may have on the future of international education in a negative light or its exact opposite. This new chapter in U.S. history may be just the wakeup call needed to reevaluate the way we have been operating. In fact, by shifting the focus to providing quality education (at the institutional level), and establishing standards (AICE is poised to be at the helm as far as credential evaluations are concerned with AIRC enforcing its certifications of agents/recruiters) we just maybe able to steer the ship into less turbulent waters. We can already see the negative effects of rapid unmonitored internationalization, where rules are broken, subpar or under qualified students are recruited, fraudulent documents are processed without vetting/verification/evaluation, and university reps compete for warm bodies overlooking principles/policies in order to meet the bottom line and generate tuition revenue.  Just look at the recent article in Reuters on how top U.S. colleges hooked up with controversial Chinese companies helped along by a former U.S. school board president and a former administrator from a liberal arts college in Vermont. The U.S. colleges indicate they were unaware of fraud accusations brought against the Chinese companies. According to the Reuters piece the companies “have engaged in college application fraud, including writing application essays and teacher recommendations, and falsifying high school transcripts.” Earlier this year, we read about the scandal facing fraudulent practices surrounding students recruited from China and India to several key U.S. institutions. The fraud covered all facets of the admissions process, from creating bogus financial statements, ghost writers preparing college admissions essays, to falsified academic documents. 

We see ACEI and the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE), the professional association that vets and screens private credential evaluation services and requires adherence to peer approved evaluation standards, to be at the helm of this paradigm shift in thinking. If quality, due diligence, and academic values are an institution’s mission and purpose, then they can only be achieved and fostered when partnered with organizations that share the same vision and adhere to the highest standards in credential evaluations. The benefits of the credential evaluation service we provide at ACEI are many, but the most important is that an unbiased evaluation based on vetted academic documents and peer reviewed placement recommendation guidelines protects the academic institution against risks such as fraud and misrepresentation which affect the institution’s reputation, ranking, and most importantly accreditation.

jasmin_2015
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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