Higher education accreditation: definition, benefits, and importance

If you are close to the education sector, and more specifically to the university sector, you have probably been told...
11 January 2023

If you are close to the education sector, and more specifically to the university sector, you have probably been told (or have come across the term) about higher education accreditation.

Although it is a relatively simple concept, it has several important nuances. Therefore, we have prepared this specific post so that you can learn more in-depth what higher education accreditation is, its main benefits and why it is so important to obtain it for educational institutions worldwide.

What is higher education accreditation?

Higher education accreditation is a certificate issued to those universities or higher education institutions that meet a series of quality requirements at the institutional level or with their educational programs.

Who accredits colleges or universities?

In most countries of the world, higher education accreditation is given by a government organization (such as the Ministry of Education). Still, in some cases (f.e. in the United States), it could be carried out by private agencies under government authorization.

To be aware of the number of organizations that can grant this type of accreditation throughout the world, we only have to take a look at the information provided by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which indicates that there are 467 entities and/or ministries of education in 175 countries issuing this type of certification.

For example, in the case of the United States, the Department of Education does not accredit individual institutions. However, a National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity is involved in the certification of accrediting agencies.

In the United Kingdom, they go even further and consider it illegal to offer a qualification that is -or may appear to be-  a UK qualification unless the awarding body is a “recognized body” authorized by official bodies (like the Royal Charter or the Secretary of State).

Higher education Accreditation

Why is higher education accreditation important?

Obtaining this accreditation is important for institutions as it recognizes their diversity, innovation, achievements, and impact

In addition, it contributes to consolidating a training model centered on the student and learning, allowing accessibility and continuous evaluation of the curriculum.

Universities accreditation: how to achieve it?

As we have already indicated in previous paragraphs, the attainment of this type of accreditation is very different and varies from one country to another. While in some countries, such as Colombia or Chile, it is entirely voluntary and does not prevent any institution from continuing to operate normally, in others, such as the United Kingdom, it is an indispensable requirement.

In any case, as we will see below, obtaining accreditation provides the entity with a series of benefits that are well worth the effort of getting it. 

The process can take a few months, and the steps to obtain this accreditation usually include the following steps (although they may vary from country to country):

  1. Initial superficial evaluation: The institution must first show its willingness to obtain certification by sending a report that includes the primary conditions to start this process. From there, the accreditation body must validate this candidacy to continue the process.
  2. Self-evaluation of the institution: in this phase, the institution prepares a series of reports based on surveys of students, faculty, and administrative staff, in addition to conducting an internal data analysis that allows for a more in-depth analysis of why the institution is worthy of accreditation.
  3. Evaluation by the accrediting body: in this phase, the accrediting body will send evaluators with extensive experience in the sector to verify that the data and reports provided in the previous self-evaluation are reliable and real.
  4. Decision of the accrediting body: based on the data collected in the two previous points and after a thorough reflection, the accrediting body will issue a judgment that will validate or deny the issuance of accreditation for the institution requesting it.
  5. Issuance of accreditation: if the decision of the accrediting entity has been positive, all that remains is for the Ministry of Education (or a similar institution, depending on the country) to issue the higher education accreditation.

It should be taken into account that once the accreditation is achieved, the validity of this accreditation may be determined by a temporary expiration, so the institution must be aware of its validity.

What is Higher education Accreditation?

Higher education accreditation benefits

Obtaining higher education accreditation brings many benefits beyond the improvement in educational quality. These are described below: 

  • Credibility in the community: obtaining this certificate allows institutions to get additional recognition within the educational community with all that this entails. It also influences students when choosing an institution to pursue their studies. 
  • Continuous challenge: it is a certificate that has to be re-validated over time. This means that institutions cannot rest on their laurels and must continue to work for innovative and quality education to have this accreditation. 
  • Funding opportunities: the economic aspect is always essential. This accreditation issued by the government is an opportunity to receive financial endowments from investors who otherwise would not look at the institution.
  • Relationships with other institutions: having this accreditation creates a link, commitment, and relationship with the public institutions and the other institutions that hold it. Therefore, it can build relationships between institutions that did not exist before.

Online training and proctoring are essential

As we have mentioned throughout the article, one of the critical factors for obtaining Higher education accreditation is the achievements and impact of innovation in education.

Our experience collaborating with different institutions that already have this accreditation allows us to assert that implementing 100% remote educational programs is an innovation that the accrediting entities consider when granting High education accreditation.

This is where proctoring, specifically, tools like SMOWL, can help you make this process 100% online, secure, and of high quality. 

With our tools, you can guarantee the identity of the users being tested and generate evidence that you can later review, thus ensuring that the tests you perform are secure. 

Contact us for a free demo and learn about the benefits that this type of tool can bring to your institution. 


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