Every country in the world has a method for controlling the quality of education that institutions are teaching to students. This usually involves some form of accreditation where a certifying body recognizes the institution or a program for meeting the minimum demands of that particular accreditation. There are a number of differing entities that certify universities and programs and base their evaluations on varying criteria and requirements. A good question to ask when you are considering postgraduate studies is whether the university or program is accredited and then dig deeper to find out if that certain accreditation is in good standing and has a positive repertoire with employers. When making such a huge investment in yourself, it is best to collect all the information that you can.
National vs Regional Accreditation The accreditation that the university or program has is often related to its area of study. Within an institution, different programs may have varying accreditations based on the courses area of study. Regional accreditation is usually related more specifically to this detail. The accreditation is meant to help uphold industry standards and considers many particulars. These can include:
- Areas of study
- Student intake
- Research conducted
- Learning tools and resources
- Staff qualifications
One key benefit to the program or institution having an accreditation is that it allows you to gain more knowledge about it by learning about the requirements of that certification. Being sure that the school has an accreditation also offers validity to your degree and can make you more desirable to potential employers.
In the UK it is illegal for an institution to offer a degree if it is not accredited; however, charges laid under the education reform act are incredibly rare. The only way to be sure that you are getting a valid credential is to do your research before you choose your degree or postgraduate program .
In some cases, underhanded means can be used in order to trick you. One such instance occurred in 2004 when a college in London offered degrees from the University of North America (no affiliation to the real University of North America). The suspect school itself had set up a limited liability corporation in the US, under this title, with no real establishment or employees. This resulted in them being charged, but it also meant that the “degrees” were not real. Those who had them were essentially once again back where they started.
Accreditation and Employers When you leave university and begin looking for work in your chosen field, you can once again be faced with the factor of accreditation. Some employers that will be in the market for your services will not accept a degree from an unaccredited school or program. This means that you could have an undue amount of trouble finding the employment that you desire. On the other side of the coin, your degree may have an accreditation that is considered undesirable. As was previously recommended, research the accreditation as part of your educational research. You may find that some accreditations will actually give you a better chance of finding your place in the workforce.
When all is said and done, the choice to pursue a postgraduate degree is a big one. It also requires a huge investment of time and effort. You definitely do not want to be started or finished and find out that you may have cheated yourself. The importance of researching and being well informed when making a decision on a school or program cannot be stressed enough. After all, this is your future and it is worth the added time it would take to launch a quest for further information.