Accreditation is review of the quality of higher education institutions, colleges, schools, distance learning centers and programs. In all over the world, accreditation is a major way that students, families, government officials, and the press know that an institution or program provides a quality education.
Accreditation may be either institutional or programmatic, and is a voluntary, comprehensive, and objective process of outside peer review to determine whether an institution or program meets the standards of the accrediting body in institutional and/or educational quality and effectiveness. The EAHEA, provides institutional accreditation for its members.
Whether a college, school, university, distance learning center or program is accredited is important:
- Students who want governmental (and sometimes association, organization) grants and loans need to attend a school, college, university, distance learning center or program that is accredited.
- Employers ask if a school, college, university, distance learning center or program is accredited before deciding to provide tuition assistance to current employees, evaluating the credentials of new employees, or making a charitable contribution.
- The government requires that a school, college, university, distance learning center or program be accredited in order to be eligible for grants and loans or other funds.
- Governments require that a school, college, university, distance learning center or program be accredited when they make state funds available to students or institutions and when they allow students to sit for government licensure examinations in some professional fields.
- Accreditation is a complicated subject. "Informing the Public About Accreditation" is an effort to reduce this complexity and provide the public with answers to these basic questions: What is Accredited? Why is Accreditation Important?
What Is Accredited?
Schools, colleges, universities, distance learning centers and programs are accredited. Around the world, schools, colleges, universities and distance learning centers are accredited by one of hundreds international accrediting organizations. Programs are accredited by one of approximately some programmatic accrediting organizations.
The EAHEA Database of Institutions and Programs Accredited by Recognized International Accrediting Organizations contains information about thousands institutions and programs around the world links to the websites of these institutions are also available.
When using the database:
- To learn about a specific school, college, university or distance learning center, go to Accredited Members Directory page and type in the name of the institution. To learn about an institution in a specific country, type in the name of the country.
- To learn about a specific program, go to Accredited Programs Directory page and type in the name of the program. To learn about a program in a specific level or country, type in the name of the country or select the level.
Why is Accreditation Important?
Accreditation is important because it gives the assurance to the public, in particular to prospective students, that you, as an education provider, meet education quality standards in the global market.
Prospective students usually feel insecure accessing the international market when they need to measure the quality of a foreign education provider with the standards known to them (set forth by their own country). European Agency for Higher Education and Accreditation accreditation may provide a global education quality reference not limited or constrained by local regulations or idiosyncrasies.
The comprehensive compilation of institutions provided by the European ENIC-NARIC Network (National Academic Recognition Information Centers) and the UNESCO IAU (International Association of Universities) is usually limited to traditional universities recognized by their corresponding Ministry of Education. What happens then with many higher education initiatives and institutions that do not fit in this category? What happens with those who provide innovative pedagogical approaches, programs of study not yet recognized by the traditional education establishment, or simply those who are responding to the current global market demands? EAHEA accreditation becomes the best way to endorse them.
It is essential to recognize that in a global market, accreditation does take on many forms. The perception of government accreditation as the "gold standard" dismiss the growing and major impact that many international schools are having on the future of global higher education. The question is not who or what accredits the school, rather, it is - How much accreditation does the school need to have? What institutions of higher learning should be considering is not adding more local accreditations in their home nation, but a truly international accreditation standard that may serve in the global market arena.
Quality Control Process
Accreditation in higher education is a process based on self- and peer-assessment for improvement of academic quality and public accountability. This quality control process occurs on a continuing basis and it usually involves three major phases:
1. Self Study: The faculty, administrators, and staff of the institution or academic program conduct a self-study using the accrediting agency´s set of standards as their guide.
2. Review: A team of peers selected by the EAHEA Secretary reviews the evidence, may visit the campus to interview faculty and staff, and writes a report of its assessment including a recommendation to the commission (a group of peer faculty and professionals) of the accrediting agency.
3. Accreditation: Guided by a set of expectations about quality and integrity, the accreditation organization reviews the evidence and recommendation, makes a judgment, and communicates the decision to the institution and other constituencies as appropriate.
1. Full Accreditation: This accreditation type is for universities, educational institutes, vocational institutions, colleges and schools.
2. Online Accreditation: This accreditation type is for open universities, distance learning centers, lifelong learning centers and online courses.
About the EAHEA Accreditation Status
1. EAHEA Accreditation isn´t A Substitute of Legal Regulations: Accreditation is a voluntary, non-governmental peer review process. Accreditation by the EAHEA shall be understood to convey only that the higher education institution meets the EAHEA´s educational standards. Such recognition is not in any way intended to substitute legal authorization, recognition or regulation, through compliance with local government laws. Legal authorization, recognition or regulation, and government accreditation occur in the context of different reviews.
2. Institutional Accreditation: The EAHEA accredited institution is evaluated as a whole entity or in every a each specific program offered. Thus, the EAHEA accreditation status is programmatic and it may be useful for the approval of specific programs (not for licensing of professions).
3. Global & International Scope: The EAHEA accreditation focuses primarily on educational quality from a global and international perspective, not narrow interests, or political action, or educational fashions. The EAHEA is aware of the differences among countries that may arise in regards of fulfilling the quality standards set forth, so EAHEA will examine each higher education institution expecting their institutional autonomy and following a non discriminatory policy. Due to this global policy, the EAHEA is not part of the any country´s governmental agencies. Academic mobility and credit transferability of accredited institutions will always be subject to the receiving country or institution policy.
Legalization of the Institution Accreditation Certificate
The EAHEA Validation Services may be legalized the "Institution Accreditation Certificate" with the Hague Convention Apostille or with a Consulate Legalization as appropriate. The EAHEA Secretary may take care of the corresponding legalization process. The EAHEA Secretary may use or hire the necessary agents or intermediaries required to complete the legalization process of any of EAHEA Validation Services. To order any legalization the applicant must send a request in writing to the EAHEA Secretary. The EAHEA Secretary will estimate a legalization budget (depending on the country legalization requirements) and communicate this to the applicant. All the fees required for the legalization process will be paid in advance to the EAHEA Secretary and are not subject to any refund.