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BAC unveils accreditation for non-UK institutions

The British Accreditation Council (BAC), one of the UK’s leading quality assurance bodies for private higher and further education, has launched an ambitious scheme to accredit non-British providers based outside the UK.

Any provider meeting the criteria may apply, suggesting huge scope to expand

To be eligible providers must have been operating for at least two years, teach their courses in English and be recognised by a regulatory authority within their own country.

BAC hopes to accredit about 30 institutions in the first 12-18 months

The scheme was developed after many overseas organisations approached BAC for accreditation. “Centres contacted us in the past and we felt there wasn’t a reason why we shouldn’t recognise that kind of provision that was operating overseas,” said Dr Gina Hobson, CEO of BAC.

Under the International Centre Accreditation Scheme, standards applied to UK institutions have been tailored to be relevant in an international context. However, unlike BAC’s International Higher Education Accreditation Scheme, centres do not have to be partnered with a UK university or degree awarding body, and accreditation lasts three rather than four years.

Fees are also higher than BAC’s UK-based schemes because they take into account travelling costs and time.

Any further or higher education provider that meets the eligibility requirements may apply, suggesting huge scope for the scheme to expand.

“We see our focus on UK education first and foremost but the experience and use of the brand that we have in the UK could very usefully be applied to overseas work as well,” Hobson said.

BAC said it expected future interest to come from countries “where reputations of UK education and UK standards are high”. It is not seeking rapid growth, planning instead to accredit about 30 “flag bearer”institutions in the first 12-18 months that demonstrate the high level of quality it seeks.

“The brand that we have in the UK could very usefully be applied to overseas work as well”

For over 25 years, BAC was the recognised accreditation body in the UK for private HE and FE institutions. However, a government overhaul in 2010 saw many of its key powers – such as validating institutions to take on Tier 4 visa students – transferred to the Quality Assurance Agency.

Currently, BAC accreditation is recognised by the UKBA as a qualifying requirement for institutions wishing to enrol students on student visitor visas.

The organisation has also recently launched an online, distance and blended learning accreditation scheme for privately funded UK further and higher education institutions.

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