A Primer on Accreditation
This is the process of quality assurance whereby programmes in an approved institution is critically apprised to verify whether that programme meets the norms and standards laid down. Further, accreditation provides quality assurance. Approval of institutions are based mainly on the minimum requirements of norms. In a typical Business School the norms are spelled out in terms of numbers required for basic infrastructure like land, building, number of books, journals, computers and software requirements. The faculty number and qualification is also prescribed. An institution which fulfils the norms laid down by the approving agency gets approved for the programme conducted by the institution. In most of the cases the accreditation is voluntary. The institutions which are approved like to go through the process of accreditation. It enables them to know the quality of their programmes and their advantages and disadvantages.
Accreditation helps the organisation to benchmark the best practices offered by institutions. This helps continuous improvement of the institution in the delivery of the programme.
THE PROCESS OF ACCREDITATION
The delivery of a course depends on many parameters. Developing the course curriculum using pedagogy in delivering the programme involves a lot of intellectual thinking. The accreditation process helps to build up high quality course curriculum and also the process as well.
The accreditation process helps institutions to revisit the mission objective
When institutions abroad look for collaborators the easiest parameter is the accreditation. The international accreditation definitely helps collaboration on international level.
More and more MNCs have started operating in India. When they recruit students, the international accreditation will be a value add for the process. This is especially relevant for Software MNCs.
Accreditation is a means to assess Quality. It is binary. Either you have it or you don’t have it
Every system looks for continuous improvement. Continuous improvement may be achieved through revisiting the process continuously and systematically. The process developed by various accreditation agencies helps institutions to revisit the mission objective linkage as well as the core objectives with the output of the programme.
PRINCIPLE OF ACCREDITATION
Accreditation is integrity-based, not compliance-based.
Think beyond minimum standards prescribed by the approving agency.
Accreditation helps the institution to experience quantum leaps not just gradual improvement in the quality process.
Accreditation provides a structure for doing what the institution should already be doing.
Accreditation brings discipline to the improvement process. Accreditation provides access to peer institutions.
Accreditation agencies and their relative merits
Institutions that earn accreditation confirm
their commitment to quality and continuous improvement through a rigorous and
comprehensive peer review. It considers whether schools are providing excellent professors, top research, opportunities to work with
professionals, high-quality classmates and
classes that challenge their ideals.
It is the most difficult certification to achieve. It is granted to the college and not to individual courses. If your institution has it, you can rest assured that there would be substantial value addition that you will get from the school. The certification also enables you to get credit transfers, advanced standing, international migration etc. Colleges site membership of AACSB as an achievement. Not any college which pays the fee can become a member.
AMBA accredits programmes. It evaluates
programmes in terms of major criteria like faculty, students, curriculum, delivery, assessment and duration. Each of the factors then have major themes that the assessment team evaluates. For e.g: If the school says an MBA must have analytical skills, the AMBA accreditation would demand that the school provide sufficient proof that there are deliverables within the course that makes the student capable of analysis and the assessment criteria includes tools to assess the same.
Remember there are no AMBA-
certified schools. There are only
AMBA-certified programmes. What the certification means to you is that there is a constant scrutiny of what is being taught as well as why it is being taught. So you will invariably get value for money.
An independent European system which again accredits institutions rather than programmes. It places lots of emphasis on the mission, goals and objectives of the institution. Internationalisation is also a core area of validation for Equis.
It still has not caught up the way AACSB has done, at least in India.
This is an international standard for assuring the user that the institution has a documented way of doing its business and give proof that it does so on consistent basis.
It does not assure quality. It only assures you that the school has a documented way of delivering a certain service. It can deliver that service at any level of quality. Only the delivery has to be consistent. This is meaningless for a business school. So don’t get
carried away by this certification.
NAAC accredits institutions. It assesses a
college or a university in terms of curriculum process, learning systems, governances, research development, student support, governance and innovative perspectives.
Both the processes are very perspective and is designed from an input orientation. The outcomes are not given prime place in their scheme of things. In terms of value for students, it’s presence does not make much difference. The fact that even accredited institutions have been now placed under scrutiny shows either the process is inadequate or the scrutiny itself is wrong. Until we have an outcome-based assessment process do not place any weight on these processes.
The much maligned AICTE’s own accreditation mechanism. It again accredits programmes of a school. Crudely one could call it the Indian
version of AMBA, though NBA accredits all forms
of technical education, both at graduate and undergraduate levels.
The writer is Director, PSG Institute of Management