Graduating with an accredited degree is highly respected and valued by employers who are seeking to recruit qualified candidates with the right skills and capabilities.
If you are planning to join a university to study for a degree you’ll encounter thousands of options that will overwhelm you and make you forget to prioritise your concerns. Your primary inquiry should be the accreditation status of your degree. In other words, to investigate whether the university meets certain quality assurance standards before you join one of their programmes.
Understanding Accreditation for Higher Education
Accreditation is a quality assurance process that universities, colleges, and higher education institutions must go through to ensure that they adhere to a set of strict and well-defined criteria set by an external and authorised regulator. In most countries, the government appoints accrediting bodies that monitor regularly and provide a legal framework for universities to operate. In other cases, quasi-governmental or private agencies oversee the procedure and deliver institutional accreditation. Accreditation authorities also have the right to perform periodic and unexpected visitations. This is done to evaluate whether the universities commit to the necessary standards consistently.
Furthermore, all higher education institutions must be transparent regarding accreditation. Even though they may be licensed to operate, they may not be certified to provide board-certified accredited degrees to their graduates.
Not All Accreditation is the Same
Universities are aware that obtaining official accreditation is a must. However, what happens when they do not have the resources to meet the standard criteria? They can’t legally reward accredited degrees, so they seek shortcuts. University officials seek accreditation from private agencies with loose and flexible requirements or they secure a license as a university but have no programmatic accreditation. Therefore, you should also be aware of the credibility of such accreditation agencies and check if the university’s programmes are accredited by an appropriate regulator.
What are the Consequences of Not Having an Accredited Degree?
Unfortunately, not all students comprehend how crucial it is to investigate the credibility of the schools they are planning to attend. These are the main reasons why you should be aware of the accreditation status of your degree:
- Employers may dismiss or ignore your application if your degree is not accredited. Recruiters search the information about candidates’ education thoroughly before shortlisting.
- Rejected from organisations to receive a scholarship for your studies. Scholarship committees are quite strict concerning student financing, as university accreditation is at the top of their list.
- Poor student and learning experience due to insufficient school funding and resources. Accredited universities usually receive astronomical investments that they can invest in research, quality programmes, material, and technology. Attending a university with no funding will have an impact on your studies.
- Missing out from further education. You might be rejected from other institutions if you wish to continue your studies with a Master’s or a Doctoral degree if your previous degree is not accredited or recognised.
Why Should I Choose an Accredited Degree?
Imagine spending thousands of dollars, and study hours on a degree that has no value in the market. Accreditation is like a verification stamp on your diploma that proves its legitimacy and that you have acquired the necessary skills and disciplines to practice a particular occupation. While many assume that if a university is well-known, western, or widely advertised, their degrees are de-facto accredited. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. You might be drawn to join a reputable institution offering international degrees, but official authorities might not have validated its programmes.
How to See if a University Offers Accredited Degrees?
You should firstly visit the university website and read its accreditations to determine whether a degree is accredited. Then double-check the information with the relevant authority. For example, Unicaf University is listed in the International Association of Universities (IAU) World Higher Education Database (WHED) portal. There, all listed institutions are officially accredited or recognised higher education institutions. Another option is to research institutions that offer online modes of study, such as Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Suffolk or the University of East London, which also offer internationally recognised degrees. Thanks to programmes such as the Unicaf Scholarship Programme, you can check for scholarships that these institutions offer their students.
Additionally, you can check what their students/graduates are saying in various platforms rating universities. Reading and watching other student testimonials will reassure you that you are making the right choice. Sometimes universities will claim that they are licensed to operate by a certain agency. However, being licensed and being accredited are not the same thing. Nor does it mean that the specific programme you are applying for has programmatic accreditation.
What is more, numbers and facts do not lie. Well-established institutions with a staggering number of enrolled students prove a university’s credibility. Typically, recognised and accredited universities will have thousands of graduates, physical facilities, testimonials from students, listing off their accreditation per programme and details of the regulator who accredited them.
If this article was helpful, consider reading some more interesting and informative articles on the Unicaf Blog!