For my reviews, I’ve started with the items on my Top 10 Paid Things list from the Research powerpoint. It seemed a good idea to tell you why I chose those items as things I would (and have tried to) save from a burning building.
Electronic Database for Global Education (EDGE). AACRAO, 2009.
Let me start by saying that I’m not unbiased here because I’ve written a couple of country profiles, but I had added EDGE to my list of critical resources long before my name got added to the roster. I truly think that EDGE has the potential to revolutionize the industry of international education. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, EDGE is brilliant, both in theory and in execution, and it’s got profiles for 200+ countries as of the writing of this review. Wow. That is truly astounding considering that they have all been written within the last four years. It’s hard to believe anything could be more current AND comprehensive. On the other hand, it costs a bunch of money for an annual subscription ($350 annually for AACRAO member schools and $500 for non-members).
When I think about the many hundreds of credentials evaluators slaving away in schools with limited funds for international education credentials, I know that EDGE will never get to them. At least when buying a book, you get to keep it when the year’s up. I do understand the rationale for it, and I still think it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen and am insanely proud of having had the chance to write for it, but I just wish there were a mid-range level for those people who need it most and who will never have access to it.
But now I need to backtrack. When I said I thought it was going to revolutionize the industry, I wasn’t being facetious or exaggerating as I tend to do. It truly is brilliant.
Each country profile has an overview of the country’s history and education system, pictorial education ladders, extensive grading scale lists for both secondary and tertiary levels, sample credentials when available, placement recommendations (!!!!), lists of tertiary institutions, and resources for further information. Of course, some profiles are more robust than others. My personal area of interest is the lists of placement recommendations and tertiary institutions. Some profiles offer exhaustive lists of both, which make me so incredibly happy and make me want to send a box of chocolates to the author for saving me untold hours. Others are less so and may just include the most
common credentials and links to the MOE website. Still, if you only get to buy one thing per year, this is the thing to buy. http://aacraoedge.aacrao.org/
The New Country Index, Volume 1: Making Sense of International Credentials.
International Education Research Foundation, 2004.
This book is so awesome I literally jumped up and down and squealed non-stop for several minutes when it first arrived. This first volume covers about 60 countries from the beginning to the end of the system and offers pretty exhaustive detail on the IERF’s placement recommendations, entrance requirements, years of study, and grading scales.
In my mind (though please don’t sue me!), this is a nice precursor to EDGE. While I don’t always agree with the placement recommendations and/or grading scales (and with so many different sources publishing different scales, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who always agreed with everything), this is truly a Best Buy for international
credentials evaluators, education abroad officers, recruiters, registrars, anyone who ever looks at credentials from outside the U.S. and tries to figure out what to do with them.
The downside is that it doesn’t have a lot of the more complex countries (Canada, anywhere in Africa, Sri Lanka, Nepal, etc.), but they’ve assured me that the new edition is written (just still in editing) and will include those countries among many others. I can hardly wait, and I’m sure that I will be recommending it to one and all as I do the current edition. http://www.ierf.org/countryindex.asp
World Higher Education Database.
International Handbook of Universities.
World List of Universities and Other Institutions of Higher Education.
Guide to Higher Education in Africa.
IAU Database on Higher Education Systems.
International Association of Universities, 2008.
I have lumped all of these together for a variety of reasons, mostly because I wanted to get them all on the list, and they’re all connected.
World Higher Education Database:
Like EDGE, the WHED has an annual subscription fee. Unlike EDGE, though, if you choose not to renew each year, you still get to keep your data since it comes on a CD form. Unlike EDGE, though, it’s not updated in real time as changes are made or errors are identified. It is my understanding that the WHED includes all of the data from the IHU, WLU, GHEA, and the info on the IAU website, but I cannot confirm that personally so I don’t want anyone reading this to take that as a recommendation to stop buying/using the others. I do know that I use the WHED almost every single day, both to look up schools with which I’m not familiar and to refresh myself on education systems I don’t see every day. The most recent edition has country profiles of 183 countries and is supposed to have 17,000+ higher education institutions (and specifically mentions having listings for 12,000 universities) , which seems to match pretty closely to the number of institutions in the most current WLU and IHU, respectively. So while I haven’t
personally sat down and compared all of the books and websites that follow in this review, it seems a pretty safe bet that you could buy just the WHED and save some money, book space, and time.
International Handbook of Universities:
The IHU is a great book that I know graces the shelves of thousands around the world. The 2008 edition (coming soon) will have data on more than 12,000 institutions worldwide. Many people have begun moving to the World High Education Database, which apparently covers all the information in the IHU, but I still have them both (though
neither are the most current edition). The IHU is $700 and the WHED is about $500, so it probably would behoove me to stop using the book, but I haven’t done an exhaustive comparison of the two since my editions of these respective resources are not the same years. Whichever route you go, though, you’ll get information on recognized public and private universities as well as other private institutions. When available, they’ll have address information, names of key figures at the institutions, faculties/colleges, courses of study and degrees/diplomas offered, and other interesting facts about the schools. You can combine the book with the free IAU website to get a pretty complete picture of the system and institutions, though, now that I think about it, that’s what the WHED does for one, slightly lower price. I guess I’ve just convinced myself which way to go…
World List of Universities and Other Institutions:
I have an older edition of the World List, and I have used it pretty frequently with nonuniversity tertiary institutions. It doesn’t have the comprehensiveness of the IHU, but it does include more schools, so I’ll take it. It basically gives the most minimal information (name and address), but when all I want is to know whether a school is recognized, it fits the bill. It is especially helpful in countries where I have a dearth of written resources, which also generally happen to not have an MOE website with school listings. This book lists approximately 17,500 institutions of higher education throughout the world.
Guide to Higher Education in Africa:
I bought an older edition used online for just a few bucks, and it was totally worth it since this book has colleges, polytechnics, and other non-university institutions, which are often a lot harder to find. It was worth the few dollars I paid for it, but I’m not sure that I’d be willing to shell out $150 for it today, but perhaps the most recent edition (the 4th) has brilliant things of which I am unaware. If you can find a used copy or get your institution’s library to buy it, though, it is totally worth having.
IAU Database on Higher Education Systems:
The two web links for the Education Systems and Lists of Universities are invaluable, FREE resources. I seriously reference them on a weekly basis. While not nearly as comprehensive as the WHED, you really can’t beat the price. The information is based on the 2005/2006 WHED, but it focuses on the bare bones information. Just like the WHED, the ‘Education Systems’ database lists the types of institutions within a given country, the credentials in the native language, and a brief overview of the primary, secondary, and post-secondary education structure. It gives more detail on the tertiary studies, including both university- and non-university tertiary education along with university admissions criteria. The country profiles often have very basic grading scales as well as information on recognition authorities within the country. The ‘List of Universities’ is exactly that: a list of recognized universities within a given country. This list may be in English or the native language or some mixture of both. It also seems to emphasize only IAU member institutions, not all recognized universities, and it has a noted lack of other, approved higher education institutions that are not universities. However, again, as a free resource, it is probably the best of a good bunch.
Foreign Educational Credentials Required. AACRAO, 2003.
This is another book that should be on every credentials evaluator’s bookshelf. It’s another of those resources that has to be used in conjunction with something else, but it’s a good start. It primarily focuses on the level of credential and what it can be used for in the U.S. (hence the title) and does not include things like education ladders, grading scales, or really anything other than a very basic equivalency guide. However, it’s got the single largest collection of countries (more than 220 countries), many of which are lacking in some of the more detailed books out there. It is a great volume if you’re just trying to learn the field or have not developed your own institutional guidelines for placement recommendations. http://www.aacrao.org/publications/
A Guide to Educational Systems around the World. NAFSA, 1999.
This is a pretty critical book that is currently undergoing a re-write due to all the changes that have occurred in the decade since it was published. The existing book is available as a CD, and I personally would probably print it out (yes, all 400 pages) and take it to a copy place to have it bound. As techno-savvy as I am, there’s just something about being able to highlight or write notes in the margin of a book that’s as influential to day-to-day evaluations and equivalency determinations as this one. That being said, there are pros and cons to the book, but for the current price tag, it is totally worth it! It’s probably got one of the most comprehensive list of countries (about 150) of ANY book in the field, and the contributing authors read as a veritable who’s who of international credentials evaluation. Most of the profiles are just 2 or 3 pages, and while they do have an education ladder, the profiles are lacking placement recommendations. I know this was intentional, but it makes the book less useful because it must be used in conjunction with other sources. One-stop shopping it isn’t, but it’s still got a clear collection of ladders, a decent list of credentials in the native language and English translation, some very basic grading scales, and limited resource information. All in all, it’s a great book but has some missing ingredients.
Chinese Universities and Colleges. Higher Education Press, 2004.
I wish I knew where to buy this because I need a new edition (or even another copy of the same edition). I hope someone reading this can point me in the right direction. This book is brilliant! It is organized by province, as are most things from China, but there’s a fabulous English-language index at the back that will allow you to search by institution name. While nothing in China is completely comprehensive because the country has such a long history, and, as such, many schools have changed names repeatedly, this is as close as it’s going to get to being THE resource on Chinese higher educational institutions. It also has wonderful lists of consolidated schools, names that have changed, and schools not included in the book at all. In addition, each school listing has the address information, the Chinese version of the name, and the historical names. I couldn’t get the accompanying CD to run, but I have issues with my drive, so I will update this if I get a chance to get it working on another machine. It does lack information on any of the PLA institutions, but that’s not really surprising since that doesn’t seem to be documented in English in very many places. All in all, a truly marvelous book!
African Higher Education: An International Reference Handbook. Indiana University Press, 2003.
I don’t normally like to reference books that aren’t published by people/organizations specifically in the field of international education unless they come from the MOE, but desperate times call for desperate measures. This comprehensive book covers more than 50 African countries and focuses on the higher educational systems, public and private higher education, gender within the higher education community, and financial issues of the country. It doesn’t have specific lists of recognized schools (ah, that would be a dream come true!), but it does mention a lot of schools by name and has pretty good resource information. For those without a budget, mini country profiles taken from this book can be found online at http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/soe/cihe/inhea/profiles.htm
India: A Special Report on the Higher Education System and Guide to the Academic Placement of Students in the United States. World Education Series/Projects for International Education Research, 1998.
Since Indians are the largest group of credentials I see, I wouldn’t be able to quickly do my job without this book. It’s got great (though oddly organized) listings of nonuniversity higher education institutions. It doesn’t really have a whole lot on the universities of India, but the Department of Education website takes care of that pretty well, so there’s no major loss. This book does talk about those unusual credentials like nursing diplomas, chartered accountant programs, and others. I don’t use this book as often as others on the list, but when I do need it, it’s the only thing that will cover the information I seek. http://www.aacrao.org/publications/
The Admission and Placement of Students from Canada: A Workshop Report Sponsored by Projects for International Education and Research (PIER). AACRAO, 1989.
I truly cannot say enough good things about this book, and I am honestly amazed by anyone who can evaluate or determine equivalencies for Canadian credentials without it. Maybe it’s just my mental block, but I find Canadian higher education to be extremely exhausting. It’s fascinating, but before I found this book, I really thought that each province was just screwing with my head in a new and different way. Now, I can systematically approach each document or school without fear. Each chapter (the different provinces have their own chapter) includes a description of the education system, numerous grading scales, languages of instruction, dates for the academic year, tons of sample credentials, and breakdowns of the different types of educational centers such as universities, nursing schools, institutes of technology, private colleges, and more. The only thing wrong with this book is that you can’t buy it new anymore, and I think that is criminal. Hopefully, soon, AACRAO will have a new method of selling their out of print books (but WHY is this out of print?!) because I have personally found nothing to replace it.
Educational System of France, The. Kathleen Trayte and Linda Jahn, AACRAO. 2007. http://www.aacrao.org/transcript/index.cfm?fuseaction=show_view&doc_id=3612
British Qualifications, 38th edition. British Qualifications is the definitive one-volume guide to academic and vocational qualifications on offer in the United Kingdom. With information on over 200 career fields, this new edition is an essential reference source for employers looking to verify a job applicant’s qualifications, and students and careers advisors looking for the route to professional qualifications in any chosen subject area. This updated edition covers educational, academic, professional, technical and vocational qualifications provided by colleges, universities, business schools, learned societies, trade and professional bodies and associations. 2008, 1040 pp. http://www.koganpageusa.com/bookdetails.aspx?ISBN=9780749450762