An In-Depth Guide to Accreditation in Higher Education
“College accreditation is a process by which schools are certified by an outside agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
or the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC)
, to provide quality academic services and student support. Accredited schools can guarantee adequate library resources, qualified faculty, solid student achievement rates and financial aid access, as well as the ability to receive a license to work in fields that require licensure for practitioners. Basics of Accreditation
Accreditation exists to ensure that students get the most out of their educational opportunities and so tax money only goes to schools that have appropriate educational infrastructure. Schools must apply for accreditation as well as go through a rigorous review process, which ensures that schools actually have the resources they claim before they can become accredited universities. When evaluating schools, accreditation agencies apply different but consistent standards for institutions seeking accreditation.
Why does accreditation exist?
Accreditation exists as a check on universities, ensuring that students study at legitimate institutions. A university that has been assessed by an accrediting body can provide proof that it meets the exacting standards for higher education in the modern day. As the process is expensive, it also limits the extent to which disreputable educational institutions can successfully function as “diploma mills,” which provide degrees with little or no educational value. As employers and other education institutions are unlikely to take an unaccredited degree seriously, accreditation makes operating a diploma mill a much more difficult proposition. Accreditation is also a way to ensure that a school deserves to receive certain types of funding. Most federal student aid, such as the Pell Grant and the Post-9/11 GI Bill, is only available to students at accredited universities. Accreditation ensures that these tax dollars are spent on institutions that can offer their students a solid education to prepare them for the future. Finally, accreditation is a way of showing prospective employers and graduate schools that a school provides a quality education. Schools that have met accreditation standards can guarantee at least a certain minimum quality of education, so accreditation serves as a stamp of quality that employers can recognize at a glance. For more information on why accreditation matters, you can check out this Maryland Higher Education Commission website
Last modified: 30.07.2013. 13:20