3 ways to ensure equitable international credit assessment

Understanding and interpreting foreign education credentials is both a science and an art. Though at times assessment can feel like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole/aiming at a moving target/comparing apples and oranges (pick your metaphor), international admissions professionals must still prioritize and strive for consistency in order to ensure fairness to students and integrity in their institutional admissions process.

Toward that end, AACRAO International’s Winter Institute faculty suggest a number of best practice strategies, including:

  • Take each country on its own terms. “Don’t have a ‘superiority/inferiority’ assessment of different educational systems,” said Annetta Stroud, Associate Director for Training and Program Development at AACRAO International. “They’re just different.”

  • Be systematic. “Review every file with the same approach,” Stroud said. “Make sure you are following the exact same steps on each case.”

  • Mirror other institutional policies. “International admissions policies should mirror domestic policies as much as possible,” Stroud said. “That helps to ensure the process is equitable for all students.”

From policy to praxis

Those three tips comprise just a peek at the education available at AACRAO International’s Winter Institute for International Transfer Credit.

“At Winter Institute we briefly go over general methodologies of practice,” Stroud said. “Then we get into the mechanics of ‘How do you decide how much credit to transfer in for your institution?’”

After exploring all seven best-practice tips, the Institute faculty provide guidance for examining education credentials from a number of top-sending countries, with information updated each year, so the Institute is appropriate for beginners and experienced professionals. Attendees then do hands-on work with real documents, working through questions posed by the faculty.

“Then they start raise questions that may or may not have come up during the training,” said Winter Institute faculty member Robert Watkins, Assistant Director of Admissions, University of Texas at Austin. “Those questions go beyond the presentation and that’s when they begin to tease out the details themselves and then we can begin to dig into that together.”

Factors such as institutional size, selectivity, and mission can also play a role in the direction those conversations take. In addition, participants explore how world events and global trends affect international admissions -- issues such as the status of the Bologna Agreement, the crisis in Syria, and the current U.S. administration’s immigration stance.

Registration for AACRAO’s upcoming Winter Institute -- February 5-8, 2018, in Arlington, VA -- has been extended through this week. Register now to stay abreast of developments in the field, connect with key resources, and improve your credit evaluation practices.