Wednesday, October 2nd, 2002
LET’S GO CANADA
Where are Canadian universities focussing their exhibition energies?
At this past weekend’s Canadian Education Fair organized by the Canadian Education Centre Network (CECN) in New Delhi, India, only three Canadian universities had booths. For an exhibition in Manila slated for this November, and organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) in conjunction with diplomatic missions from other countries, there has been little interest in participation from the Canadian university community.
However, Canadian universities are energetic in other markets. DFAIT’s first Canadian Education Fair held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, also this past week, attracted five universities. This October, the Canadian Embassy in Egypt is hosting its first Education Fair. According to our Embassy’s Tarek Meguid, the Fair has attracted at least a dozen universities. The projected slate of institutions will be of the most representative such assemblies. Egyptians will have a healthy array of institutions to choose from: from small to large universities in small to large urban centres, covering all possible academic programs in Canada’s official languages. The Fair also has seven confirmed Canadian colleges.
The August edition of IB World, the magazine of the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) reports that IBO has recently introduced a new series of documents, such as redesigned diplomas, certificates and other official documents. This is part of an effort to better protect the IBO and its authorized schools from fraudulent reproduction. Several of the new designs are printed on paper with security features, from small overall designs that are not easy to copy, to silver threads that turn black when photocopied.
IBO is a not-for-profit foundation based in Switzerland. As of September 30 2002, there were 1,365 authorized IB world schools in 112 countries. The IBO offers three programmes to its member schools: the Diploma, Middle Years and Primary Years Programmes.
IB student transcripts are available for online viewing and downloading (with permission of the student) by education institutions. To register for this service, visit the official site at www.ibo.org. The website also has a listing of member IBO schools, as well as information on its programmes. In addition, universities and governments can now list their admission requirements and IB diploma recognition guidelines.
OVER THE COUNTER
USA Today reported last week that higher education officials across the United States, alarmed by the expanding potential for fraud involving bogus college degrees and fake transcripts, were stepping up efforts to crack down on academic scams.
The Internet has greatly raised the visibility and reach of such operations, which distance-learning expert and longtime diploma-mill watchdog Mr. John Bear estimates constitute a $200-million-a-year industry. “And, while some universities still view these shady operators as mere nuisances, others are increasingly concerned about protecting their credibility amid a wider field of deceptive practices.”
Among recent concerns reported in the article is that of phoney transcripts. Admissions officials for UCLA’s biomedical and life- sciences programs this month announced they will give extra scrutiny to foreign applicants after learning that an admitted student from China had falsified transcripts from a university there. David Meyer, the director of UCLA’s program, says he is aware of similar cases at other universities.
This topic was at the heart of one of the sessions offered at the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s (NACAC) Conference in Salt Lake City. Higher-Edge CIO Dani Zaretsky attended a session on credential evaluation. Nancy Katz (Special Consultant – International Services, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers or “AACRAO”) proffered a number of useful suggestions.
Katz emphasized the importance of knowing an educational system and its documentation. She referred to a sample transcript from the West Indies whose tell-tale signs of fraud were a “science” score rather than an individual subject score (such as physics) and the listing of subjects that did not follow alphabetical order as is the convention on these transcripts. Katz also noted the importance of basic scrutiny, referring to an Iranian transcript in which the year of graduation indicated the student had completed high school at age 13. To a knowing audience, Katz discussed the common scenario of students either overseas or in-person pressing for immediate decisions on admission or transfer credit. The basic recommendation was to avoid being pressed, and to take whatever time was required to reach a thoughtful and thorough decision. In sum, Katz recommended investigation of academic representations to the extent feasible and reviewing the fullness of a student’s record rather than only one segment of a student’s educational background.
Higher-Edge had an intriguing array of visitors to its booth as it launched its Gradscreen and Studentscreen services and welcomed the extensive input from a largely American audience. See www.higher-edge.com/screen.html. We look forward to similar input at our booth at the upcoming conference hosted by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) November 1-4, in Ottawa.
Globe Tipping will return next week.