• Report: #444546

Complaint Review: Josef Silny & Associates, Inc.

  • Submitted: Fri, April 17, 2009
  • Updated: Mon, February 25, 2013

  • Reported By:San Rafael California
Josef Silny & Associates, Inc.
7101 SW 102 Avenue, Miami, Florida U.S.A.

Josef Silny Josef Silny & Associates, Inc. Warning! Will not recognize most European Bachelors or Masters Degrees! Also misstated degree title in evaluation! Save your money if you need equivalency for EU degrees! Miami Florida

*Consumer Comment: Mr. Silny

*REBUTTAL Owner of company: Josef Silny, President 305-273-1616

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I am an American citizen with a Bachelors degree from a 4 year American university, and thereafter got a Masters degree from an international Masters program at Leiden University, The Netherlands, a highly esteemed, accredited university in Europe. These programs are taught in English and are targeted specifically at international students: http://www.postgraduate.leidenuniv.nl/index.jsp . I received a Masters degree in English Literature, with the course consisting of classes on critical literary theory and a thesis, similar to many American Masters programs.

When applying for a community college teaching job recently, I was required to have my foreign degree evaluated for equivalency. I hired J.Silny & Associates for $130 for an evaluation report, plus $15 for an additional, official sealed report.

I was shocked when I received the evaluation, which stated that my degree was being evaluated as equivalent to a *bachelors* degree in "English as a Foreign Language". The first part, evaluating it as a bachelors degree, they based on a rather complicated debate about the "Bologna Process", which was an agreement among the members of the European Union to standardize their higher education, and adopt a bachelors-masters structure at *all European universities*. You can read more about this Bologna Degrees debate online, but the bottom line is that J. Silny & Associates will not recognize European degrees earned after 1994. So if you have a European degree earned after 1994, and you need equivalency, DO NOT hire J. Silny & Associates. There are other bureaus that will grant you equivalency, I have discovered, so do your homework and inquire about a bureau's position on the Bologna Process before you hire them!!! Save yourself the money and anguish that I suffered.

I had no idea this debate was raging here and that European degrees are being invalidated by U.S.-centric evaluators. I have learned a lot, and feel very strongly that this is discrimination which is not entirely based on substance, but on an adopted bureaucracy. My opinion aside, be forewarned that J. Silny is in the "anti Bologna Process" camp. This portion of my complaint is therefore a dispute which exists between others as well, and they feel justified in their arguments, so this part is not necessarily an accusation, just a warning to others that their European degrees (after 1994) will very probably not be judged as equal to American degrees by J. Silny, based on their position.

My second complaint, however, was never adequately addressed, because there simply is no logical rationale for it. J. Silny and Associates misstated my degree as "English as a Foreign Language", when my diploma and transcripts clearly state it as "Masters in English and American Literature", an entirely different field of study (foreign languages is a whole different department than literature). English Literature is the critical study of literary texts, quite a different field than linguistics or foreign language study. They went on to erroneously state in my transcript evaluation that "All courses were studied as English as a Second Language", which is completely false.

I am a native English speaker, and all Masters programs at the accredited university in question are taught in English across the board, with the clear and documented prerequisite that students have a high level of proficiency in English, the language of instruction. My program in English Literature was no exception. Silny stated that because the university requires all non-native English speakers to take a TOEFL test to prove English proficiency (a test required for every Masters program at the university), that my degree was therefore "English as a Foreign Language". Absolutely ridiculous (incidentally, as a native English speaker, I was not required to take that test). When I asked if, based on their rationale, Math and Chemistry (also requiring a TOEFL test for non-native English speakers) would also be considered "English as a Foreign Language" degrees, they didn't respond. Perhaps they would be "Math as a Foreign Language" degrees. It's an absolutely nonsensical evaluation. American universities ALSO require this test for students from non-English speaking countries (see http://www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu/Programs/program.aspx?id=1210&tid=438 for example- "A score of at least 233 (computer-based test) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required for applicants from countries where English is not the official language or applicants with degrees from a non-U.S. accredited institution.") who apply to their AMERICAN English Literature Masters programs. I feel pretty certain that Silny wouldn't evaluate an English Literature degree from the University of Central Florida (in their home state) as a Foreign Language degree, even though their TOEFL requirement is exactly the same as Leiden's. I can only see this as an unfounded bias against European universities.

All in all, if you have a degree from a European university, regardless of how legitimate, AVOID J. Silny & Associates. You simply will not get an equivalency evaluation, no matter how valid your degree, because that is their position on European degrees. They do not seem to care about the substance of your education, and they do not seem to care about getting the title of your degree accurately. They do not seem to care about how they will damage your life, and seem very satisfied in being able to be "right" about semantics arguments, rather than being fair or logical in their evaluations. You don't have to be devastated and feel your hard work called into question. There are alternatives, I have learned, and not all evaluation bureaus are the same. Learn from my mistake and call some other bureaus, who will be much more reasonable and sympathetic to rational arguments in evaluating your European degree.

San Rafael, California

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/17/2009 04:04 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Josef-Silny-Associates-Inc/Miami-Florida-33173/Josef-Silny-Josef-Silny-Associates-Inc-Warning-Will-not-recognize-most-European-Bache-444546. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment

Mr. Silny

AUTHOR: RL - (United States of America)

Thank you for caring enough to respond to this complaint. 

What vehicle does your company offer to ensure that all relevant documents are considered when doing an educator evaluation? 

Do you have a mechanism to review additional information assembled by a university regarding their programs and course content after an initial evaluation has been made?  How do you address additional submissions of documents? 
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#2 REBUTTAL Owner of company

Josef Silny, President 305-273-1616

AUTHOR: Representative Of Josef Silny & Associates, Inc. - (U.S.A.)

Please visit our website of www.jsilny.com and click under references. The reason that our evaluations are accepted by the U.S. Government, State Governments and hundreds of colleges and universities is that we provide objective and professional foreign credentials evaluations which are based on the recommendations of the National Council on the Evaluations of Foreign Educational Credentials and my experience of more than 35 years of professional experience including 16 years as the Director of International Admissions at the University of Miami and the City University of New York. This particular client attended a foreign institution which only requires a completion of a three year bachelor's degree. This is not equivalent to a four year U.S. bachelor's degree. Therefore, her foreign master's degree is not equivalent to a U.S. master's degree. While we guarantee that our evaluations are completed by using national standards by highly competent evaluators, we obviously cannot guarantee that the applicant would be happy with the results of their evaluation.
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