What is an Accreditation, how does it apply to educational institutions and what are the benefits?

An Accreditation is an independent verification that an institution, an organization or a course / program that is offered by them, meets established quality standards. It also certifies the competency of the organizational processes such as course delivery, teaching, testing and administration of the institution.

The process of accreditation may include assessment of organizational structure, business and administrative processes, course content and delivery. The assessment for accreditation may include an evaluation of relevant documents provided by the institution and sometimes may require an onsite inspection.

There are several benefits an accreditation can offer an institution. It provides the institutions an opportunity to identify areas of weakness and strengths within the organization, develop overall performance and make improvements as required.

It also offers recognition not only for the institutions but also for the graduates from an accredited institution, adding value to their qualification and assurance of their standard of education to potential employers.

An accreditation may be provided by both governmental and non-governmental agencies, conglomerations or federations. Some accreditations may be a local governmental requirement, while others may be sought after by the institutions voluntarily, for the purpose of value addition.

Examples of some governmental accrediting agencies are National Board of Accreditation (NBA), British Accreditation Council (BAC), Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

Examples of some non-governmental accreditations and agencies include International Organization for Standardisation (ISO), United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), International Accreditation and Recognition Council (IARC), London Institute of Certification and Accreditation (LICA).