The Accreditation Process

Introduction

To be eligible for programme accreditation, institutions must first seek registration with the NAC. The aim of registration is to certify that an institution meets certain minimum operating standards required for the conduct of tertiary education in Guyana.

Registration provides an institution with the opportunity to establish a formal, publicly recognized relationship with the NAC. Registration therefore is a pre-accreditation status. The criteria for registration are closely related to the criteria for accreditation since they are meant to provide registered institutions with a foundation for logical development towards accreditation.

The following are steps required in seeking accreditation for programmes:

  1. The Application & Self Study
    • A registered institution seeking NAC’s accreditation of its programmes must make application to the NAC and conduct a self-study. The self-study is a thorough evaluation through which an institution formally examines itself, assesses its strengths and weaknesses, and plans how to capitalize on those strengths and to improve on the areas of weaknesses. Careful self evaluation is crucial to any institution’s effectiveness. The self-study is therefore intended to assist in institutional planning and development.
    • The institution submits the completed application form detailing the programme’s philosophy and structure; method of assessment; learning resources; staffing; admission requirements and selection procedures; analysis of intake and destination of graduates. This is accompanied by (i) required supplementary information such as syllabuses, examination papers, booklists, timetable and samples projects; and (ii) the institutional self-study.

  2.  Processing by the NAC
    • The council reviews the material supplied by the institution to verify completeness of application submissions to determine if the institution is a candidate for accreditation.
    • The Council then communicates with the institution on an appropriate date for a site visit. Care is taken to ensure that the date is convenient to all parties involved.

  3. Team Selection
    • The Council selects a team of professionals who will visit the institution and evaluate the programme. The evaluation team is usually drawn from professional educators and practicing professionals chosen for competence in field relevant to the programme being evaluated.
    • The institution is notified of the composition of the team in order to minimise conflict of interest. While the Council reserves the right to make the final choice, the institution is invited to inform the Council of any concerns or reservations it may have about any member of the team. 
    • Once the composition of the team has been finalized, relevant material on the accreditation process and submissions made by the institution requested by NAC are distributed to each team member. The NAC then holds a briefing session with the team members in order to: 
      • clarify the task of the team and establish what are the NAC’s expectations of the team.
      • Introduce the team Chairman and assign specific tasks to team members.

  4. The Site Visit 
    • The evaluation team conducts a visit to the institution. Visit is in a sense a fact finding and validity exercise and institutions are required to provide evidential support as needed to validate statements made.  Team members are required to professional judgments as to the quality of the programme and the degree of compliance with the criteria set by the National Accreditation Council.  
    • The visit is comprised of (i) a series of interviews with administration, faculty, students, graduates and employers of graduates from the programme, and any other relevant stakeholders. (ii) an examination of the institution’s facilities: lecture rooms, library, laboratories, computer facilities, recreational provisions, etc. The team may also observe classes in-session. 

  5. The Evaluation Report and Institutional Response
    • The evaluation team prepares report on the visit which provides a summary of strengths and weaknesses and offers advice, suggestions and recommendations to the institution. 
    • A copy of the report is sent to the Principal/President of the institution who is invited to submit to the NAC a written response to the comments and recommendations.

  6. The Review
    • The team’s report and the institution’s response are reviewed by the NAC’s Accreditation, Curriculum and Development Committee, a sub-committee of the Council, which makes recommendations regarding accreditation to the Council. 

  7. The Decision
    • The council makes the final decision at its next sitting. The institution is informed of this decision by letter, stating the terms and conditions upon which accreditation was granted.  The institution is required to comply with these terms and conditions within the given time frames. 
    • If accreditation is denied the institution is likewise informed and given the reason for the decision.  Initial accreditation by the National Accreditation Council will normally be for a period of four years during which an annual status report must be submitted by the institution.  The institution is also monitored by officers of the Council.

  8. Annual Status Reports
    • One of the conditions of accreditation is the submission of annual reports in the status of the accredited programme. Such reports must inform the Council of:
      • steps taken to satisfy any conditions upon which accreditation was granted;
      • any substantive changes in programme structure, course content, staffing, equipment and teaching facilities, requirements for student admissions, and financing arrangements.
      • Continued accreditation within the stated period will be determined by the Council’s approval of annual reports.

  9. Re-accreditation 
    • Re-affirmation of the accreditation of a programme must occur at the end of the period of accreditation. Accreditation and re-accreditation are similar in both substance and procedure.
    • There will be a complete review of the programme by a visiting team which will, among other things, revisit the initial report to determine developments which the institution has implemented to maintain and enhance the quality of the programme and verify that the institution has affected any condition to accreditation which the Council may have imposed 
    • Re-accreditation is not automatic. Institutions must satisfy the Council that they continue to meet NAC requirements for accreditation. The Council may shorten the period of accreditation or even refuse re-affirmation if it is found that the standards of the programme have not been maintained.

Institutions should submit application for re-accreditation at least three (6) months prior to expiry of accreditation.