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BAC updates accreditation for independent HE

The British Accreditation Council has released an updated version of its accreditation scheme for independent higher education providers.

The scheme will cover online and distance learning courses. Photo: BAC

Another set of changes hints at the international market by making the scheme “less UK-centric"

The scheme is designed for institutions that offer full degree programmes and is aligned to the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area.

The update was devised to take into account changes in the higher education landscape and to be fully compliant with European Standards and Guidelines 2015.

“There’s an increasing demand for quality assurance…particularly on the international landscape”

Among the changes from the previous version, the scheme will cover online and distance learning, to recognise the growth in popularity of these delivery modes.

Taking into account the increasing complexity of the international higher education landscape, the scheme will also require applicants to be authorised and accredited by their state regulator, to automatically exclude so-called ‘degree mills’.

Another set of changes hints at the international market by making the scheme “less UK-centric,” BAC CEO Paul Fear said.

The update will for example ensure that standard and quality outcomes are adaptable and can be applied differently according to the cultural context and educational provisions – without the need to exactly replicate UK practices overseas.

“We have found there’s an increasing demand and need for independent and transparent quality assurance for higher education institutions, particularly on the international landscape,” BAC Fear added in a statement.

“This recent update will help ensure that BAC’s high-quality reputation is maintained in the UK and importantly overseas.”

Quality assurance is particularly important on the international landscape not only because it can help institutions form partnerships with other institutions or with governments, but also because of the increasing awareness of the “huge commitment” that higher education represents for students and the society as a whole.

With provision growing globally, students need access to the correct information, Fear told The PIE.

One of the updates to the scheme involves a more rigorous evaluation of the quality of student experience, covering teaching, assessment, student support and learning environment.

“The aim here is to ensure that students receive accurate information about the institution, the program they will be following and their progress,” Fear told The PIE.

“Making sure that students have the information they need to make informed choices at a time when they have more choice than ever is increasingly important for all stakeholders!”

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