Accreditation- the core idea behind, and why it’s important in today’s context

Any educational institution across the world aims to be accredited, primarily because it tells the students that they are at the forefront of providing high-quality education. At the outset, accreditation is the recognition that an educational institute attains as a requisite for its graduates and professionals to enroll for professional courses and practices. 

Parents and budding matriculate shouldn’t fall prey to institutes that aren’t recognized, as in most cases they will have a sub-par quality of programs and courses. Higher education in Dubai in 2019 is not really pocket-friendly, so if you are investing your time, resources and risking your future, it is important to get a degree from a university that is both nationally and internationally recognized. 

From the institution’s perspective, they are at risk of losing business potential and are ceding away their name and market share to other institutes. Students today have the power of the internet and perform intermediate research before picking a university of their choice. 

For the country, it is great in all aspects of trade and business to have students travel from across the world to study there. Eventual employment will also add to the country’s growing economy. Thus, getting accredited is indeed a win-win for all.  

Here are the top 5 reasons as to why accreditation is important:

  1. It’s a recognition that helps determine if a certain educational institute meets or exceeds the minimum standard of quality.
  2. It’s essential for the transfer of credits among various educational institutions. 
  3. From the employer’s perspective, it’s a strong form of evidence that the candidate has received his certification from an accredited institute or a program. 
  4. It helps employers determine eligibility for various tuition reimbursement programs.  
  5.  If students want to apply for federal/state grants or loans, accreditation provides a strong basis to determine the eligibility criteria. 

A brief history- what went wrong, what went right within the higher education sector of Dubai

 

Dubai has witnessed almost two decades of the explosive growth of its higher education sector and has emerged to become the higher education hub for the world. While the significance of accreditation is clear, the existing shortcomings need to be shed light on as well.  

In a peer-reviewed study titled Factors Favouring or Impeding Building a Stronger Higher Education System in the United Arab Emirates’, it is highlighted that graduates seldom meet the skill levels expected by employers. 

For starters, English is not the native language of Arab countries. With communication majorly being done in Arabic, it became difficult to communicate complex concepts to both non-resident students and local attendees.

Furthermore, the Dubai authorities weren’t overwhelmed by the paper’s critical conclusion but instead were curious about the next steps they can take to level up the quality-of both higher education institutions and the students who attend them.  

An initial interaction to overcome this scenario was to provide ‘foundational programs to new students, so the university could gauge the student’s competencies in English, math, logic, etc. In terms of numbers, these foundational programs amount to 30% of the entire higher education spending by the government. 

In response to this, an educator who has worked across the Middle East in the education sector for more than 10 years, has some strong arguments. He believes that there is a way to fix the education crisis to produce well-rounded thinkers, which can be done via a standardization method like accreditation. This will give universities a clarity on what to teach, and how to- which is the central idea of any accreditation.

 

The latest and greatest- what are the new licensing and accreditation standards for universities in Dubai

 

Universities across Dubai today will be evaluated on a set of high-quality benchmarks starting this September 2019.

Universities that meet the criteria will also be rewarded equally.

Advantages include:

  1. A 7-year interval between licensing and accreditation reviews
  2. Universities offering multiple programs can get them all reviewed at the same time
  3. Smaller inspection and evaluation teams will visit the educational institute
  4. Duration of a visit by evaluation teams will be shorter as well  
  5. Priority will be given to educational institutes that offer newer and modern programs, which will reduce licensing and accreditation costs by up to 50%  

If your institute is not up to the recommended standards, then you will witness:

  1. An inspection and review every three years
  2. Longer duration of visits from the external review teams in addition to more regular visits from the educational ministry
  3. The process of getting new educational programs reviewed will be more stringent 
  4. If the quality of overall courses offered drops below a certain level, educational institutes can be subject to probation by the ministry.
  5. For institutes having a low-score, more weight will be given to reputation, national and international ranking, academic history and compliance health of the institute in question. 

To address the gaps in the existing accreditation and licensing process, the latest guidelines also outline a clearer procedure for establishing new institutions, measures to adhere to for closing down institutes, suspending programs and bringing to light violation boundaries and corresponding penalties

Additionally, the new guidelines also entail quality improvements on the matters of e-learning, recognizing prior education and considering the various financial obligations of institutions. 

All of the above mentioned new standards apply to all higher educational institutes of the UAE including government and private entities, specialized universities under the military and healthcare sector and respective branches of international universities as well.

 

 

Overview of the new procedure:

Institutions will now have to submit a concise self-assessment report containing their strategies, quality assurance rules, syllabi, a complete list of faculty members, available resources on campus which include infrastructural facilities and laboratories. 

There will now be 11 aspects of evaluation by the ministry 

    1. Governance and administration capabilities of the educational institute
    2. Internal quality assurance standards 
    3. Student strength
    4. Strength of faculty members employed either full-time or part-time
    5. Infrastructural facilities on campus 
    6. Health, safety and environmental efforts done by the institute
    7. Full legal compliance and public disclosure
    8. Educational resources offered
    9. The institute’s financial capabilities and sustainability model 
    10. Responsibilities towards the educational communities and services towards maintaining integrity

A complete list of the latest accreditation and institute licensing procedures can be viewed on the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA) website here. 

The ministry is currently working on deploying an online portal in order to meet the latest technological advancements and promote a green, paperless approach towards licensing and accreditation of higher educational institutes and programs in Dubai and the UAE. 

 

So, where can universities today apply for accreditation?

 

The Middle East today is now transitioning from an oil-rich economy to a knowledge-based economy. This paradigm shift towards global regionalism will happen progressively over the next 5-10 years. Higher education is poised to be a prime catalyst to drive a local knowledge-based economy. 

Under 25 youth account for about 60% of the population, and in many other regions, the median age of the inhabitants is between 15-29 years. For higher educational institutes, there couldn’t have been a better time to drive accreditation goals more aggressively and bring a change in both culture and innovation. 

For universities wanting to get accredited in Dubai- the Middle States Commission on Higher Education is the ideal choice. With more than 525 accredited and candidate institutions across the USA and the Middle East, it is a popular choice. Alternatively, you could also try the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, whose accreditation procedure is listed here. 

Lastly, to view the entire list of licensed educational institutes in Dubai, you may check them out on the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Education website here. 

 

Rahhal- Dubai’s revolutionary regulation model for higher education institutes

 

An initiative by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), Rahhal is set to revolutionize the experience of education and learning. This is overseen by the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF). 

Rahhal, in all its essentially, is a flexible and accessible model that collates all knowledge and information and makes them available to students of all age categories. Dubbed as the ‘Dubai 10x initiative’, His Highness has set the bold plan in motion to place Dubai-based educational entities 10 years ahead of the world, by implementing methodologies today that countries will probably implement 10 years from now.

Rahhal is an alternative educational framework that can be customized to the needs of each specific learner, that can be done part-time or full-time- a model that can be taken up by private and public sectors alongside NGOs. 

 

In conclusion  

 

In this blog, you have read it all- from the purpose, history to what the latest is in the realm of accreditation and licensing of higher educational institutes in Dubai. Indeed, it is inspiring how the Dubai government is aggressively working on long-term action items for revamping the way people learn in the Middle East. 

The central idea of these developments is to communicate strategic thinking that will impart the power of modern problem solving and make students more employable. By extension, to also make the same learning body self-learners.