Stanford and China exchange electronic academic records

While many U.S. colleges and universities use e-transcripts, universities and ministries in other countries rarely exchange electronic academic records. Stanford's registrar hopes a collaboration with China's Ministry of Education will set the standard for record exchanges with other countries.

Stanford recently became the one of the first U.S. universities to receive official electronic academic records from the Ministry of Education in China, marking the success of a project the university launched two years ago with the ministry and a U.S. software company.

L.A. CiceroTom Black, university registrar

University Registrar Tom Black says a new system for exchanging electronic academic records makes applying to graduate programs easier and more efficient for Chinese students.

Two agencies within the ministry sent the records on behalf of a Chinese student applying for admission to a doctoral program at Stanford School of Engineering. The China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Center sent a "credentials report," which certified that the student had earned a bachelor's degree of engineering from the Beijing Institute of Technology in 2014. And the China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center sent a "verification report" of the student's academic transcript, including the courses the student had taken, as well as grades and credits for each one.

Since the documents bore the official seals of the two agencies, Stanford knew with certainty that they were authentic – saving the university the time and expense of verifying them, said Tom Black, university registrar at Stanford.

While many U.S. colleges and universities use e-transcripts, universities and ministries in other countries rarely exchange electronic academic records, Black said.

"We strive to provide our graduate applicants and students the best student services possible," Black said. "We hope that this program will be a standard bearer for other record exchanges with other countries. Also, knowing that the records are authentic and accurate helps protect Stanford."

Black said the record exchange has an elegant twist: Chinese graduate applicants to Stanford can order their official academic records while filling out Stanford's online graduate admission application, making completing the required aspects of the admission process that much easier and efficient.

Currently, most Chinese graduate applicants use paper records and must pay to have them translated. Under the new program, the Ministry of Education translates the documents at a fraction of the usual costs.

Black said Stanford is notifying Chinese applicants that the new service is available.

Patricia Gumport, vice provost for graduate education, described the academic record exchange between the two countries as "an exciting development in graduate admissions for applicants from China."

CollegeNET, the U.S. company that designed Sanford's online graduate admission application, also designed the new online order and delivery system the university is using to exchange electronic academic records with China.