Why Academic Accreditation Is Important for Higher Education Institutions
Academic accreditation is a voluntary process through which colleges and universities demonstrate to the public their commitment to quality education by meeting specific standards set forth by a regional or national agency. Unlike certification, which evaluates technical aspects of specific processes, accreditation covers the entire capacity of an institution to meet objectives established by each accreditation body, according to its specialty.
The benefits of accreditation extend far beyond assuring the public that an institution is providing a quality product. Accreditation organizations verify that educational institutions meet standards for curriculum, faculty, facilities, and administration. Accredited schools are more likely to be chosen by students and offer greater transferability of credits and degrees.
Accreditation makes sure these institutions are meeting high standards in areas like student services, admissions, financial aid services, library resources, maintenance and safety of buildings, administrative services including information technology support, and student life programs such as intramural sports or campus activities.
Determining whether an institution is meeting minimum quality standards of education
Accreditation is a process through which an institution is evaluated and can be compared to other institutions. It involves a set of standards and procedures designed to ensure that the institution meets a certain level of quality, and the process is designed to ensure that the institution is meeting minimum quality standards in areas such as curriculum, faculty, facilities, and administration. An accrediting body reviews an institution to see if it meets the standards; if it passes, it is granted accreditation for a specific period of time and may label itself as ‘accredited’.
Improving enrollment rate by winning the trust of students & parents
When choosing a school to earn a degree, it is important to understand the different types of accreditation and the various degrees of accreditation to make an informed decision about which school to attend. While not all degrees from accredited colleges and universities are created equal, a degree from an accredited school is often worth more than one from a non-accredited school and can be easier to transfer to another school in the future.
Identifying accredited institutions assures students and their parents that general or program-specific standards of quality are officially recognized. This increases the chances that students will select the school and improves the school’s ability to attract students looking for transfer credits. Students and parents are more likely to trust an accredited school because the institution has proved its excellence by meeting the aforementioned standards. Accreditation increases a school’s visibility and enhances its reputation in the community. It is the best way for a school to be known as a quality institution.
Helping employers to determine a program’s credibility increases graduate employability
Accreditation assures employers that an institution meets recognized standards of quality. This increases the chances that employers will select the school’s graduates over the graduates of non-accredited schools and improves the ability of a school’s graduates to enter the job market. They know also that accredited schools are more likely to have an up-to-date curriculum, better facilities, and more highly qualified faculty. Employers also recognize that accredited schools are more likely to produce graduates who have the necessary background for advancement in the workplace.
Enabling graduates to access further certification examinations
Graduates from accredited universities have a higher chance to sit for certification examinations. Certification boards also know that accredited schools are more likely to have an up-to-date curriculum, better facilities, and more highly qualified faculty. They recognize that accredited schools are more likely to produce graduates who have the necessary background for certification.
Providing a basis for higher education institutions to access government funding
Accreditation assures the federal or national governments that an institution’s graduates can be selected to participate in training or internship programs and improves the ability of a school to receive federal funds. Government agencies also recognize that accredited schools are more likely to maintain their finances in order and to invest in the improvement of their facilities and faculty.
Creating goals for self-improvement of higher education institutions
Accreditation encourages the self-improvement of a school by setting goals for continuing improvement through responsible oversight. This helps the institution to maintain its excellence and to be responsive to the needs and interests of the community and region.
What are the most important accreditations?
There are several regional and national accreditation organizations that are generally accepted in the United States.
AACSB – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business’s accreditation is the most rigorous standard for business schools and is also highly respected in other fields. Only 5% of all business schools are accredited by AACSB.
ABET – The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology is the main accrediting body for engineering and engineering technology programs. In addition, they also accredit computer science, information technology, and applied science programs. Only 6% of all engineering programs and 11% of all engineering technology programs are accredited by ABET.
CACREP – The Council on Accreditation of Counseling, Rehabilitation, and Related Professions accredits counseling, rehabilitation and mental health programs, as well as some social work programs. Only 6% of all counseling and social work programs are accredited by CACREP.
HLC – The Department of Education’s Higher Learning Commission accreditation is the most common type of accreditation for higher education institutions in the US. Approximately 90% of all colleges and universities are accredited by HLC.
There are specific types of accreditation for different higher education institutions or programs
These standards may vary among the various accreditation agencies. However, most agencies have similar standards in three main areas. These include:
- Curriculum – Curriculum refers to the courses that are taught at the institution and the objectives that are used to determine the course content.
- Faculty – Faculty includes instructors and advisors and their qualifications for teaching. It also includes the policies used to determine faculty advancement and tenure.
- Administrative Services – Administrative services are the services that the institution provides to support the curriculum, faculty, and students, such as audiovisual services, financial aid, records services, health services, and career counseling.