National Accreditation Council
THE NATIONAL ACCREDITATION COUNCIL: PROMOTING QUALITY, EXCELLENCE AND STANDARDS IN EDUCATION
As part of its public education and awareness programme, the National Accreditation Council-Guyana (NAC-G), will be issuing on a regular basis, information about its services for post-secondary and tertiary institutions, details about the services available to prospective and current students, and information for the wider public. In this issue, the Council would like to provide a brief overview of its services. WHO ARE WE? The National Accreditation Council (NAC) was established by an ACT of Parliament (the National Accreditation Council Act No. 12 of 2004), which mandated that all postsecondary and tertiary institutions operating in Guyana must be registered with the NAC. The NAC is governed by a Board of Directors that is set up by the Office of the President. In promoting the quality of education and training in Guyana, the NAC advises post-secondary and tertiary level educational institutions (local or foreign) on registration, accreditation, and programme approval, and also provides recognition of awarding bodies, and equivalency of foreign qualifications. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE REGISTERED WITH THE NAC? Registration is a mandatory quality assurance process. This means that schools MUST meet the criteria and standards necessary to offer their services. This process must be completed in order for any postsecondary and tertiary institutions (private and public) to operate legally in Guyana. The registration process determines whether an institution has the capacity to offer quality education to its students. Every institution must satisfy seven criteria namely: Legal, Policy and Regulatory Requirements; Government and Administration; Quality Management System; Resource Management; Teaching-Learning Process; Review; and Continuous Improvement. Under each criterion, institutions are required to fulfill corresponding standards; 23 altogether. Teams of External Evaluators, that is, persons who are experts in the particular programme areas, are used to evaluate an institution during the registration process. In some countries, registration is known as preaccreditation. The NAC’s Registration and Accreditation standards are in keeping with international best practices and are similar to those implemented in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Jamaica.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ACCREDITED? Accreditation is a voluntary process by which the National Accreditation Council externally reviews REGISTERED postsecondary and tertiary education institutions and/or programmes that have been evaluated and have met or exceed stated criteria for learning quality. It is important to note, that some tertiary institutions in Guyana offer internationally accredited programmes. These institutions must be registered with the NAC to be able to offer their services in Guyana. Ensure that you find out from an education institution that you are interested in attending, whether or not they are registered with the National Accreditation Council BEFORE you pay your fees and begin your studies! You must see current evidence! ACCREDITATION OF MEDICAL SCHOOLS The Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP) is the legally constituted body established in 2003 under the aegis of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). It is empowered to determine and prescribe standards, and to accredit programmes of medical, dental, veterinary and other health professions. Medical schools established in Guyana are required to seek accreditation with CAAM-HP AFTER being registered with the National Accreditation Council. The accreditation process assures that medical, dental, veterinary and other health profession schools meet standards of structure, function, and performance. It also assures society that graduates of accredited schools meet the education requirements for further training and the health care needs of the people in the Caribbean. The accreditation process adopted by the CAAM-HP has two general aims: • To certify that a medical education programme meets prescribed standards, and • To promote institutional self-evaluation and improvement. RECOGNITION OF FOREIGN QUALIFICATION AND INSTITUTIONS Persons who wish to pursue a course of study with a foreign institution, or who have completed a programme at a foreign post-secondary or tertiary institution, may apply for recognition of their foreign qualifications at the National Accreditation Council. A Statement of Recognition will be issued, which provides information on the accreditation and/ or recognition status of the institution and the programme offered. EQUIVALENCY The equivalency process determines the level of comparability or academic value of qualifications attained overseas. An equivalency assessment equates or compares a qualification obtained overseas, to a qualification locally. Equivalency also allows applicants to receive credit transfers for study completion, gain entry to institutions for the purpose of furthering their studies in Guyana, and facilitate employment or promotion.
PROCESS FOR DEALING WITH STUDENT COMPLAINTS According to the NAC’s ACT No. 12 of 2004, one of the functions of the NAC is to “protect the interest of the students”. If a student wishes to bring a matter to the attention of the Council, he/she is required to formally submit details of the matter. Students are required to visit the NAC and complete a Complaint/Query Form on which they state the nature of the complaints by answering some questions. This form provides the means by which the Council can formally act on the student’s behalf. Students are encouraged to visit the NAC which is located at 109 Barima Avenue, Bel Air Park to meet with an officer to discuss the matter and have their concerns documented. Students can also write to the NAC about their complaints. All matters brought to the NAC by students are kept in the strictest confidence. The same principle is applied to post-secondary and tertiary institutions registered with the NAC. NAC, as a quality assurance agency, is recognized regionally and internationally and is affiliated with several agencies for quality assurance in higher education. The Council has acquired membership within the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) and the Caribbean Area Network for Quality Assurance in Tertiary Education (CANQATE). Persons who wish to obtain information about any of the services provided by the National Accreditation Council can access further details of each service on its website at : www.nac.gov.gy