Choosing a university is an important decision that (if you’re reading this) you’re likely to make, or have made, sometime in your life.
Checking accreditation is an important part of this process. There are 107 universities and colleges in the UAE, but surprisingly few of them are accredited by a local or international body.
So what does this mean?
University accreditation is a certification verifying that a university meets all formal official requirements of academic excellence, curriculum, facilities and more. To become accredited, a university undergoes an intense process of scrutinizing different aspect of its educational offerings. The process is to ensure that universities adhere to certain academic standards and offer competitive degrees. Licensing means that a university has been granted permission by the local educational authority to offer degree programs.
In addition to host government accreditation by local ministries of higher education, there are other independent accrediting bodies around the world. A handful of them have attained a respectable reputation of granting credible accreditations.
These include accrediting bodies such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET), for engineering schools and programs; the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), for business schools and programs; and the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) of the United States for architecture programs.
It is always wise to find out if the university you are interested to join is properly accredited by the local authorities of higher education as well as by at least one of their independent accreditation bodies.
In most cases, top universities in the world such as Yale University, University of Edinburgh, Oxford University, Cambridge University, Harvard University, Stanford University and MIT, just to mention a few, do all they can to ensure that they are appropriately accredited by reputable accrediting bodies for all the programs they offer. And they strive to maintain these accreditation so that every time the programs are reviewed for re-accreditation, they get approved.
Accreditation details (if any) can nearly always be found on the university or college’s website. As a general rule, try to find universities that are accredited internationally.
If you’re interested in staying in the UAE or the region after you graduate, you’ll want to find a university that is also accredited by the UAE’s own accreditation body: the Commission for Academic Accreditation of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the United Arab Emirates.
Gureni Lukwaro is a Writer, Editor and Social Media Manager at the American University of Sharjah.