Accreditation assures the educational community, the general public, and other agencies or organisations that an institution or programme:
(a) has clearly defined and educationally appropriate objectives
(b) maintains conditions under which their achievement can reasonably be expected
(c) is, in fact, accomplishing them substantially, and
(d) can be expected to continue to do so (Chernay, 1990).
Steps of the Accreditation Process
- Preparation and self-evaluation
The institution seeking accreditation prepares a self-study along with supporting documentation that effectively displays the institution's accomplishments. The self-study also identifies how the institution has met the standards set by the accreditation agency.
- Peer review and Visit
An intensive review of the documentation submitted and the operations of the institution are undertaken by a team of peer evaluators. The team usually interviews a cross-section of institution or programme constituents, including faculty, students, alumni, employers of graduates, and senior administrators of the University.
- Accreditation Decision
Based on the outcomes of the visit and the evaluation of documentation, the accreditation agency will make a determination as to whether or not the institution or programme has met the criteria to be accredited. In Barbados accreditation may be granted for 3, 5 or 7 years.
- Continuous Review
By applying to be accredited, an institution submits itself to the continual assessment of its operations by an external quality assurance agency. If the institution wants to retain its accredited status, it must undergo the above step as part of the re-accreditation process. The intention of continuous review is to ensure that the standard at which the institution or programme was awarded accredited status is either maintained or enhanced.
It is normal for accrediting agency, during the period of accreditation, to perform interim quality reviews of accredited institutions or programmes.