Your questions answered on registration of post secondary and tertiary
education institutions operating in Trinidad and Tobago.

All post secondary and tertiary level institutions, local or transnational/foreign, operating in Trinidad and Tobago must be registered by The Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT).

Post secondary or tertiary institutions must first submit an application for registration in Trinidad and Tobago. If necessary, the post secondary or tertiary institution must obtain ACTT’s approval to use the institutional title that it wishes to be registered under.

The institution is required to submit to an evaluation by ACTT to ensure compliance with the minimum quality requirements for post secondary and tertiary institutions. If the institution meets these requirements for registration, it is issued a Certificate of Registration by ACTT. Registered institutions are placed on the Register of Post secondary and Tertiary Institutions.

Post secondary education refers to all education and training programmes which are not at tertiary level but which are offered to secondary school leavers to meet their vocational or continuing education needs.

Provider is a person or body offering programmes or courses leading to an award or credit.

Tertiary education means the teaching and learning process following the completion of secondary education or its equivalent and leading to the awards at the sub-baccalaureate, baccalaureate and post baccalaureate levels.

List of Frequently Asked Questions

Registration is a mandatory process whereby post secondary and tertiary education and training institutions demonstrate they have the capacity to offer quality education in Trinidad and Tobago.

All institutions offering education and training in Trinidad and Tobago that lead to the award of post secondary and tertiary level qualifications. These institutions must be registered before they begin to offer these qualifications.

Mandatory registration provides a legal framework for protecting the interests of students, parents and other stakeholders in the tertiary education sector. Institutions that fail to register with ACTT are guilty of an offence. In accordance with Chapter 39:06, those institutions will be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $20,000.00 and a further $500.00 for each day that they continue to operate without being registered. Institutions that fail to register should not be operating.

There are seven (7) criteria against which institutions are evaluated:

    • Legal, Policy and Regulatory Requirements
    • Governance and Administration
    • Quality Management System
    • Resource Management
    • Teaching-Learning Process
    • Review
    • Continuous Improvement

The registration process starts with the institution submitting a Letter of Intent, which states the name of the institution to be registered, the types and levels of qualifications offered and the number of sites or campuses that the institution wishes to have registered. This letter must be signed by the head of the institution, dated and addressed to ACTT’s Executive Director. ACTT will then communicate with the institution on the next steps in the process.

A site visit is conducted by an evaluation team comprising trained professionals appointed by ACTT to assess the institution’s operations. The evaluation team prepares a report and makes a recommendation on the status to be granted. The Board of ACTT makes the final decision on the status to be awarded.

Application Processing Fee – a non-refundable fee paid at the time of submitting the application for registration

Evaluation Fee – the cost of the evaluation exercise which includes honoraria and expenses paid to evaluators appointed by ACTT

Certification Fee - the cost of publication of the registered status awarded and preparation of the certificate. This applies to an institution that meets the criteria and standards for registration.

Registration Fee - payable on registration and annually while status is maintained

  • Registration for 3 years
  • Registration for 2 years
  • Registration for 1 year
  • Provisional Registration
  • Extension of candidacy
  • Denial of Registration

The status granted to an institution depends on the extent to which it has satisfied the criteria for registration.

The projected timeline for processing an application that satisfies these guidelines is a minimum of four (4) months. However, the cycle time for processing an institution’s application for registration is dependent on the application’s quality, appropriateness and adequacy.

Yes. An institution can be registered for a period of up to three (3) years depending on the strength of its Quality Management System. Registered institutions must apply to ACTT for re-registration six (6) months prior to the expiration of their registered status. Institutions that allow their registration status to expire will be in breach of Chapter 39:06, causing their agreement with ACTT to be compromised.

All registered institutions must submit a Registered Institution’s Annual Report (RIAR) to ACTT, outlining their level of continued compliance with the criteria for registration. Failure to comply with the conditions of registered status may result in revocation of such status.

Registration is mandatory by law, whereas accreditation is voluntary. Registration signifies an institution has the capacity to offer quality education. It does not provide assurances of the quality of educational outcomes.

 

Accreditation is both a process and a status. It is the process used to evaluate the quality of an institution or programme and to assist in institutional or programme improvement. It is also the status granted to an institution or programme that has been evaluated and found to meet or exceed stated criteria of educational quality.

ACTT publishes the names of all registered institutions in the press and on its official website – www.actt.org.tt. Also, all registered institutions are placed on a National Register of Post Secondary and Tertiary Institutions in the Ministry of Science Technology and Tertiary Education (MSTTE).

Recognition is the approval by a competent and duly authorised agency of the quality and acceptability of a legitimate educational institution and the qualifications it awards.

Most employers and other public or private authorities (e.g. those responsible for the award of scholarships) require that the institution and programme are recognised. Before enrolling in a post secondary or tertiary level institution you should ensure that the institution in which you intend to enroll has been quality assured.

Equivalence means that a foreign qualification is comparable to a specifically identified qualification officially issued in Trinidad and Tobago.

Equivalent qualifications may allow you to gain entry to ‘further study’ in Trinidad and Tobago and may even earn you ‘credit transfers’ for existing qualifications. The institution receiving the credits makes the final decision on the acceptability and value of the credits towards completion of its qualifications.

Statements on Recognition: ACTT issues official statements on the accreditation and/or recognition status of foreign and local institutions and qualifications awarded at these institutions.

Normal Processing Time: minimum 10 working days

Processing Fee: TT $100.00/qualification

“Express” Service: 48 hours

Processing Fee: TT $300.00/qualification

 

A: Equivalency Assessment: ACTT issues official statements on the equivalence of foreign qualifications to national qualifications.

Normal Processing Time: minimum 20 working days

(no “Express” service available for Equivalency Assessment)

Processing Fee: TT $300.00/qualification

 

“Diploma Mills” are organisations that award academic degrees and diplomas with very little or no academic study, and without recognition by official accrediting bodies. Such organisations operate without monitoring by state or professional agencies and grant diplomas which are either fraudulent or, because of the lack of proper standards, are considered worthless.

ACTT will continuously scan the post secondary and tertiary education sector to detect the existence of potential diploma mills operating in or offering qualifications to Trinidad and Tobago nationals.Additionally, ACTT will disseminate information on ‘diploma mills’ and other such ‘fraudulent’ tertiary level institutions through advertisements, bulletins and other forms of media so as to inform the public of such institutions operating in Trinidad and Tobago.

ACTT also aims to increase awareness among students, employers and other stakeholders of the importance of pursuing post secondary and tertiary level study at recognised institutions, and seeking qualifications that will be accepted by employers and institutions locally, regionally and globally.

Detecting ‘diploma mills’ can be difficult, but fraudulent post secondary and tertiary institutions generally exhibit common features. Here’s what to look out for:

    • names that are similar to those of well-known colleges or universities;
    • declaration of accreditation from ‘bogus’ or un-recognised accrediting bodies;
    • frequent changes of address or administrative offices housed in rented mailboxes;
    • contact is by e-mails only;
    • written material with spelling and grammatical errors (sometimes on the diploma itself), as well as brochures, websites and documents with pretentious language;
    • overemphasis on the affordability and the impact a degree will have on job prospects;
    • little or no selectivity in admissions, often advertising their ‘open door’ policy;
    • very limited or even no interaction with professors;
    • degree requirements that are few and often unspecified;
    • degrees that can be earned over a much shorter period of time than conventional institutions; some degrees may be advertised for completion in just a few months, weeks or even days;
    • tuition and fees that are often advertised on a per-degree basis. For example, students may be offered a discount for enrolling in several degree programmes at once; provisions may even be made for the institution to deduct monthly payments from an individual's bank account.
    • A professional body is a group of people in a specialised occupation who are entrusted with maintaining control or oversight of the legitimate practice of the occupation. Professional regulatory bodies in many countries play a significant role in the oversight of education, training and certification linked to the profession.
    • Regulatory bodies have long been established in fields such as medicine, law, architecture and engineering. The growing specialisation of the workplace has led to a rapid growth of professional bodies such as nursing, teaching, library science, counselling, insurance, and accounting.
  • ACTT has embarked on developing collaborative relationships with professional regulatory bodies, professional associations, regulatory agencies, employers and other related stakeholders in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
  • ACTT intends to forge various Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) on qualifications requirements, including foreign, local and specialised qualifications for entry into professions and specialised occupations in Trinidad and Tobago and the CSME.
  • ACTT has commenced the development of a database of local professional regulatory bodies, professional associations and other stakeholders.

National Qualifications Framework (NQF) is a system that defines the levels at which qualifications may be awarded in a particular country. A NQF assists in standardising qualifications by defining titles, outcomes of qualifications at each level, the rules for credit accumulation and transfer, and the relationship between qualifications.

    • ACTT intends to work collaboratively with all stakeholders towards the establishment of a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) for Trinidad and Tobago. This foundation project will involve the development of criteria and standards that provide for:
      • the award of qualifications
      • recognition of qualifications
      • increased horizontal and vertical articulation
      • transferability of credits
      • increased intra- and extra- regional mobility of skills
    • As part of the framework, all existing tertiary/higher education qualifications awarded by local institutions will be positioned relative to one another. The NQF will also highlight progression routes and pathways to professional, vocational and other kinds of qualifications.
    • With the development of the NQF, ACTT will introduce mechanisms to accommodate new qualifications as they are developed.
    • Further plans related to the NQF include the development of processes and criteria that will facilitate determination of equivalence of foreign qualifications to local qualifications; and the comparison of local qualifications with qualifications within the Caribbean region and internationally.
    • Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is the process of determining whether the learning acquired from life and work experiences can count toward tertiary level credit. The emphasis is on what is learnt from the experiences, rather than on the experiences themselves.
    • ACTT will embark on a survey of Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) policies among post secondary and tertiary institutions in Trinidad and Tobago.
    • Following the outcomes of the PLA survey, ACTT plans to begin collaboration and training with local post secondary and tertiary institutions in the context of developing consistent standards, policies and procedures for the recognition of prior learning.
    • ACTT will create, manage and maintain appropriate databases of accredited institutions and recognised programmes for the internal management of information.
    • Further initiatives of ACTT include:
      • working with regional and international accrediting bodies so as to ensure mutual recognition of qualifications
      • regional collaboration towards development of a Regional Qualifications Framework endorsed by CARICOM and the Caribbean Accrediting Agency for Higher Education