What does Accreditation mean?
‘Accreditation’ simply means ‘being officially recognised’. In Higher Education a University that has been through a quality assurance process by an external organisation to determine whether certain standards have been met is ‘accredited’. In most countries official (i.e. mandatory rather than voluntary) University accreditation is conducted by a Governmental or semi-governmental organisation.
Who Accredits UK Universities?
In the UK it is illegal to offer a qualification that is or might seem to be a UK degree unless the University is recognised by the Government (accredited). The external body (independent of the Government) that reviews UK universities is called the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) who will recommend (or renew) accreditation to the UK Government if the University has met stringent quality standards.
For a full list of accredited UK universities see https://www.gov.uk/check-a-university-is-officially-recognised/recognised-bodies
What about Accreditations by other external bodies?
There are nearly 500 accreditation bodies globally. Some are Governmental, many private, some rigorous with the quality assurance process, others much less so. Some accredit the whole institution, others a particular school or a particular programme(s). Three of the most well known business and management accreditation bodies are AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS. These are voluntary accreditations, which means that unlike the QAA accreditation process, a University may or may not seek these accreditations.
Why do universities seek accreditations from AACSB, AMBA and/or EQUIS?
As more and more business schools emerged (now around 14,000 of them) this became a method to differentiate from others (and charge more for their programmes). About 870 schools have AACSB, about 270 have AMBA and about 190 have EQUIS. Around 100 are ‘triple accredited’ (have all three).
- AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accredits the entire business schools.
- AMBA (Association of MBAs) accredits MBA programmes and more recently DBA’s.
- EQUIS (EFMD Quality Improvement Standard) accredits business schools.
Are Online Learning and Distance Learning degrees Accredited?
All Online Learning and Distance Learning degrees awarded by a UK University recognised by the UK government is accredited and globally recognised https://www.gov.uk/check-a-university-is-officially-recognised/recognised-bodies . There is no mention of the words Online Learning or Distance Learning on the certificate, and it is a 100% equivalent to the certificate awarded to full-time students.
What about Local Accreditation?
Governments have an ‘equivalency’ policy for degrees earned outside their country. Students interested in pursuing an education not taught in a local university should always check with their Ministry of Higher Education (or similar) before deciding on a degree. It is highly recommended that a reply from the respective governing body be provided in writing as rules can change over the course of their study.