Dr. Ethley London - Executive Director, The University Council Of Jamaica - ACTT Launch - November 28, 2005

GREETINGS

by

Dr. Ethley London, Executive Director
The University Council Of Jamaica

Official Launch of  The Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago

November 28, 2005

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I deem it an honour and a privilege to bring greetings from the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) and the Caribbean Area Network for Quality Assurance in Tertiary Education (CANQATE) to the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT) on the occasion of its formal launch. This is indeed a significant development in the Caribbean and a proud moment for all of us!!

Worldwide accreditation is receiving increasing attention at all levels.  In the last 10-12 years the number of countries which have embraced accreditation as a mode of evaluating the quality of its tertiary education sector has increased significantly in every region of the world.  This makes accreditation an important and widely used tool for evaluating and improving the quality of tertiary education, and for providing the government, educational institutions, students and employers with critical information about the quality of education offered at a particular institution and comparative information about the quality of a tertiary education system as a whole.

The challenges facing a new accreditation body at this time are many and varied and ACTT cannot afford to lose sight of its primary purpose.  In this context, I join the President of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) in underscoring three of the pivotal roles of accreditation:

The first is: Sustaining and Enhancing the Quality of Higher  Education 

 An accreditation Council, such as ACTT, should serve as the focal
point for establishing a culture of quality in tertiary education.  In this way, ACTT becomes a gatekeeper for assuring a threshold level of quality, identifying institutions and programmes that do not have sound academic and fiscal practices leading to quality operation.  At the same time, it should serve to enhance the quality of those programmes and institutions operating at acceptable levels.

Another pivotal role of accreditation is: Maintaining the Academic Values of Higher Education

ACTT should ensure that it reinforces academic values of tertiary/higher education such as institutional autonomy, academic freedom, commitment to degree education, general education, staff development and good governance.

The third role is: Serving Public Interest and Need.

ACTT should serve the public need and interest by facilitating institutions and programmes to engage in continuous improvement by establishing threshold expectations of quality.  In all of this, wide participation from stakeholders should be encouraged to help sustain quality in tertiary education which meets not only national but also international standards.

I now take the liberty of offering a few basic suggestions (tips) which have served UCJ well over the years:

  1. Communicate with your stakeholders including  students, the public, institutions (public and private), professional bodies, government (ministries etc.)  Maintain an on-going public awareness programme.  This will help to demystify the whole concept of accreditation and Quality Assurance which can mean different things to different people.
  2. Build trust - Integrity is the hallmark of accreditation. 
    Stakeholders should be able to rely on the Council for rigour, integrity and consistency that characterize the accreditation process.
  3. Respect institutions – this respect will be reciprocated and
    will facilitate greatly the accreditation process.
  4. Emphasise your developmental role rather than your compliance role especially in the early stages.  Guide institutions to attain quality standard