Benefits of Accreditation
Accreditation can offer several important benefits:
It puts a stamp of approval on graduates: graduating from an accredited institution indicates that graduates are expected to be ready to practice at a certain level.
It provides educational programs with opportunities for self-definition and self-reflection, and with feedback on program content and direction.
It affords the opportunity for continuous improvement of institutions and educational programs.
Accreditation protects the interests of students, their parents, the academic institutions themselves, and potential employers, by ensuring that the educational programs offered have attained a level that meets or exceeds standards that were developed by experts in the field. While accreditation does not ensure that every graduating student will become a successful professional, it does guarantee that the student has demonstrated a certain set of skills and abilities that are reflected in the accreditation criteria. It is not a sufficient condition for professional success, but in some disciplines it serves as a necessary condition.
When an accreditation body – such as ABET Inc. in the United States or JABEE in Japan – determines that a program complied with its criteria, that body grants it an accreditation credential. This credential is of interest to the following constituencies of higher educational institutions and programs:
Present Students and Graduates
Students use the accreditation credential to introduce their educational background to employers and to programs in other schools, thereby satisfying entry requirements or gaining advantage over applicants from non-accredited programs
Prospective students use the accreditation status of a program/institution as a factor in their decision whether to enroll. In areas where several accrediting bodies operate, the reputation of the accrediting body that had approved a program may become an important factor in student enrollment decisions.
Professionals and Professional Societies
Professional societies use the accreditation process in order to assure relevance of the curriculum in their fields of interest. Over time, the establishment and proliferation of accredited programs thus improves the quality and relevance of new graduates to the profession.
Licensing bodies often seek a mechanism to guarantee that individuals who present themselves to licensing body examination have had the necessary educational background. This background would encourage them to practice in a manner that is consistent with the safety and welfare of the public, as well as with accepted professional norms. In many jurisdictions, licensing bodies address this objective by requiring that potential licensed professionals come only from programs accredited by recognized accrediting bodies.
Employers seek efficiency in the process of hiring and in training new employees. Often they find that by restricting hiring to graduates of accredited programs, they are able to recruit, on average, higher-quality employees than by allowing applicants from all programs to be interviewed and tested on the job. Multinational corporations often resort to accreditation as a factor in hiring. This is especially true especially in new labor markets where the corporation does not have sufficient experience with graduates of various academic programs.
Like industry, some governments use accreditation as a selection criterion of employment candidates. In addition, accredited programs often have advantage in governmental decisions on public funding of research or educational infrastructure. In some cases, accreditation affects broader policy matters such as approving entry visas for out-of-country students who wish to enroll in an academic program.
Other Schools and Programs
Academic programs, especially graduate programs, require that applicants demonstrate sufficient academic background to warrant admission, and therefore tend to prefer students who graduated from accredited programs over other students.