In Arab countries, students’ decisions about enrolling in an academic program or university are often limited by high school grades and tuition costs, but many today are also taking something else into account: whether the institution or academic program is internationally accredited. (See Al-Fanar Media’s updated database of more than 750 internationally accredited universities and programs in the Arab world.)
An informal survey that included 400 male and female students from various Arab countries, conducted by Al-Fanar Media on the Internet, revealed that 77 percent of these students consider an institution’s accreditation status when it comes to selecting a university.
International accreditation is independent of the national standards set by ministries of education that institutions have to meet in the countries where they operate. International accreditation is usually done by an independent, nongovernmental agency that sets its own standards. (See the related articles “A Student’s Primer on Accreditation” and “An Arab Student’s Guide to Higher-Education Accreditation.”)
For students, attending an internationally accredited institution can be important if they plan to continue their education overseas.
“Accreditation guarantees quality in education and confidence in academic institutions’ services and outputs,” said Fatima Al-Falah, an assistant professor of educational psychology and director of the Office of Quality Assurance and Performance Evaluation at the University of Benghazi, in Libya.
Obtaining international accreditation is a rigorous process, she said. It begins “with self-assessment by the institution that submitted the application, then an external evaluation by independent experts, and a final decision based on internationally accepted quality evaluation criteria.”