Tips for Verifying Educational Documents

Foreign credential evaluation is a process which involves a number of different steps:

Application Review, Documentation Analysis, Research, Decision Making

These are the key elements of the evaluation process. Before we reach our conclusion, we need to review the documentation. First priority is to establish whether the documents appear to be authentic or not. This can be done in a number of ways. 

Begin with your application form and ask about student’s educational history. Compare the information provided by the student with the information provided on the documents. 

Research the educational system of the given country to establish whether the student’s qualifications are appropriate for the time period, location, type of institution etc. Use known resources describing world education systems. If you are not sure where to start, check our Resources, News, or the Message Board for leads.

Focus on document format and content. In many of our fraud detection training courses I repeat the following statement: “Authentic documents are consistent, fraudulent documents are not”. This is especially true when the falsified document was fabricated at home or via other computer-generated methods. "Authentic documents are consistent, fraudulent documents are not"

Compare your documents with previously evaluated samples from the same country or institution. Look for inconsistencies in format, font, colors, wording, grammar, security features etc. 

If you are a small office and your sample collection is insufficient, consider subscribing to document databases provided by other credential evaluation professionals. For example, the Sample Documents feature through ECE® Connection Advantage, provides access to a growing collection of high-quality color samples of documents from around the world. In addition, many sample documents are also available in ECE electronic publications and recorded e-Learnings

Use the internet. Twenty years ago, credential evaluators did not have the advantage of using the internet to perform credential evaluation. Today, more and more online verification sources are created every month somewhere on the internet.  

Look for national qualification, “título”, or diploma databases. Check university websites. They may also be hosting their own graduate databases or publish lists of graduates, convocation ceremony pamphlets etc. All of these can provide you with a quick degree confirmation which can drastically reduce your document review time. 

If you are not sure where to start, check the Connection News section by selecting “Online Verification” tag. Many of these online sources can also be found in conference presentations such as TAICEP, NAFSA, AACRAO, EAIE etc. 

Majka Drewitz is a Senior Evaluator and a Research & Knowledge Management Evaluator. She has been with ECE since 1999. Majka authored ECE Insights: Evaluation Tools for Russian Credentials and co-authored the third volume of the ECE publication Education in the Commonwealth Caribbean.

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