Understanding the accreditation process

Accreditation is a process of recognizing programmes offered by higher education institutions. World over, accreditation implies institutional and programme compliance with legislative requirements for registration; availability of governance and management structures conducive to delivery of quality education (including appropriate delineation between oversight responsibilities and day to day management); and a commitment to the promotion of an environment conducive to pursuit of academic excellence.

In readiness for the accreditation of institutions, NCHE developed an accreditation and evaluation framework.

The accreditation and evaluation framework operationalizes the provisions for accreditation spelt out in the NCHE Act. The Act provided for accreditation of institutions and of programmes. NCHE Act makes reference to achievement of acceptable standards in terms of-

  1. Physical, human, financial, teaching and learning resources;
  2. Management and operational procedures; and
  3. An acceptable standard of academic life focusing on teaching, research, community service and expert service.

Programme accreditation on the other hand would take into account –

  1. The academic qualifications of all members of staff employed by a higher education institution during the period of assessment, including those expected to be employed by the higher education institution;
  2. The total number of students enrolled in each programme of instruction offered at a higher education institution and the standards attained by those that have graduated during the period of assessment;
  3. Information and communication technology infrastructure and the provision for training;
  4. The size and quality of the library and other teaching and learning resources;
  5. The financial resources available for the exclusive use by a higher education institution, certified by its auditors; the physical facilities including land available for the exclusive use by a higher education institution;
  6. Student-staff ratio of a higher education institution; and
  7. The currency, relevance and frequency of review of the curriculum for each programme for comparability nationally and internationally.

NCHE accreditation framework includes the following instruments:

  1. Minimum Standards   for     Higher         Education   Institutions
  2. Application form for     accreditation         of       programmes         or qualification.
  3. Database of reviewers.

The process of accreditation involves the following steps:

  1. Application for accreditation by the institution.
  2. Payment of accreditation fee
  3. Submission of self-assessment report
  4. Assessment visit to the institution
  5. Decision by the Council

The effect of accreditation – The Qualifications awarded in respect of programmes of instruction by an accredited higher education institution shall be recognized as comparable and of equivalent merit to similar qualifications awarded in respect of programmes offered by other accredited higher education institutions in Malawi and internationally.

Accreditation of higher education institution started in 2016. As of April 2018, six (6) public institutions of higher learning were accredited.

These are Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST); Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR); College of Medicine (CoM); Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) and Malawi College of Accountancy (MCA). While results for the Polytechnic are pending, Chancellor College is yet to be assessed for accreditation. Ten (10) private institutions so far have been accredited, (DMI St. John University, Catholic University, Pentecostal Life University, Malawi Assemblies of God University, Malawi Adventist University, Daeyang University, Livingstonia University, Nkhoma University, African Bible College and Management College of Southern Africa (MANCOSA).

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