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The importance of accreditation

August 25, 2005

Hello again. It's always a controversial topic. Schools that have invested considerable effort in obtaining official accreditation regard those that have not as 'cowboys'. The unaccredited school will often cite its excellent record and student feedback as being sufficient testimony to its quality. So where do I stand on this issue?

Frankly I think that accreditation is only as valuable as the status and credibility of the accrediting body. If an august and respected external body exists and offers a really thorough and rigorous inspection process, then I think any 'serious' school should go for it. It is a form of quality assurance for students and allows prospective students to be confident of key standards for teaching, facilities, welfare and so forth.

It is also a form of insurance because a good scheme will have a complaints procedure and the student can feel certain of having any complaint properly investigated.

However, it is not a given that accreditation schemes worldwide are of uniform standard. If your school is in an area where no good scheme exists, then the road ahead is not so clear. One route is for schools to band together and produce a voluntary scheme and monitor each other. Another is go for some other kind of recognized 'kite mark' such as ISO.

In some countries, accreditation is mandatory; in others the system is more open. But we must remember that students are vulnerable and any means that can help them discriminate between the bona fide organization and the disreputable must surely be important. What do you think? What has your experience been?

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