LETTER OF THE DAY - Colleges, students must share blame in accreditation mess
AS AN educator at one of Jamaica's leading universities for the past 18 years now, I am moved to write about the process of accreditation as in recent days, there has been much talk about 'fake' and 'worthless' degrees where students have completed programmes and are then told that the institutions have not been granted accreditation for such courses.
Accreditation is a process and it is never automatic upon completion of a course of study/programme. Institutions must first be registered with the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ), which is the accrediting body. The UCJ is the national quality-assurance agency for tertiary education in Jamaica, which was established in October of 1987 by the University Council of Jamaica Act, 1987.
We have seen in the print media the names of institutions where graduates are having problems with their degrees and very little is being communicated to them by these schools, such as Hydel University, The Mico University College, Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI), and the Vocational Training Development Institute.
I would urge these and other institutions that might be faced with this issue to communicate clearly and honestly to the graduates specifically, and the public generally.
I would also urge students to be more responsible by checking out the courses of study/programmes at institutions to find out if they are registered, approved or accredited before enrolling. Students need to be proactive: Do some research, visit the UCJ's website, visit the institution's website, ask questions from current students, graduates and employers about the course of study you wish to enrol in.
I must congratulate the UCJ for making the public know yearly, during their Quality Assurance Week, of all institutions that are registered, courses that are approved and those that are accredited, which include local and international programmes offered in Jamaica. The last such publication was on Monday, March 10, 2014 in a Gleaner supplement by the UCJ titled 9th Quality Assuring in Tertiary Education Week March 10-14, 2014.
I encourage the UCJ to continue its great work in assuring quality in tertiary education.
Senior Lecturer in Education
University of Technology, Jamaica