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Unlocking the Potential of Higher Education Institutions Through Accreditation

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The American University of Bahrain recently achieved accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States of America, becoming the first in Bahrain and among a handful in the MENA region to receive US accreditation. In this article, Dr Cook discusses the merits of accreditation in measuring and enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in higher educational institutions. For more information, visit the AUBH website.

The Kingdom of Bahrain is home to the oldest public education system in the Gulf, and literacy rates are considered among the highest in the Arab World. The country has been ranked first in the MENA in school life expectancy and has had a 6% average annual growth in student numbers in private schools. The numbers are very promising for Bahrain’s education sector, indicating that it will continue to be a major growth variable in Bahrain’s development. 

However, as the education sector grows and adapts, ensuring academic quality is critically important for healthy national and economic development. Indeed, an education system is only as good as its graduates and the skills and competencies they actually take with them into their careers.   

External accreditation is one such measure that provides important quality safeguards for educational institutions. However, what exactly is accreditation? 

Accreditation is a process that provides external validation that a university meets or exceeds established standards for academic quality and institutional effectiveness. This is a voluntary process where an institution conducts an in-depth self-study against established accreditation standards. That self-study is then submitted to an independent certifying entity that reviews the study and then organizes a team of educational professionals to visit the campus to determine the level of compliance with established standards.  Once a campus meets the academic and operational excellence necessary, the agency bestows accreditation on the institution for a bounded time frame, usually renewable every 5-7 years.

Earning institutional accreditation provides several social, public, and educational advantages.  First, accreditation gives students, parents, and employers confidence in the value of education and the qualifications earned. Second, accreditation ensures that credits earned at one institution can be transferred to another accredited institution. This allows students to move between institutions without losing credits or having to retake courses. Third, accreditation is often a requirement for universities to grant degrees that are recognized by other institutions and employers. This ensures that graduates have the necessary credentials to compete in the job market.

Fourth, accreditation also enhances a university’s ability to secure research funding from government agencies and private foundations. This can support faculty research and student involvement in research projects. The American University of Bahrain recently achieved accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States of America, one of the most well-known and respected accrediting agencies in the United States. AUBH is the first university in the Kingdom to earn US accreditation and is among only a handful in the MENA and GCC regions. This is a significant statement on the university’s commitment to high-quality academic and operational excellence which will translate into positive outcomes for students, faculty, industry, and the broader community. 

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