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Frequent questions:

"Does it matter if an institution is public, national, regional or private?"

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"Are private accreditation agencies legitimate?"

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"Is there a difference between 'recognized' and 'accredited?'"

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"Are institutions in a particular country obliged by law to recognize my degree?"

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Frequent Questions:

Does it matter if an institution is public, national, regional or private?

This is a disputed question. Within an international context, national public institutions are most readily registered and validated by governments services. Private institutions do not always enjoy active government support and may not be eligible for registration in certain national networks, even though they might be accredited by well-known accreditors. During the initial phase of the UnivCheck database agregation process, it was clear that private institutions were most difficult to identify and validate.

Are private accreditation agencies legitimate?

The National Commissions for UNESCO are the proper interface in each country to express an opinion on this matter. There are four kinds of accreditation agencies:

  1. the ministries of education themselves
  2. public agencies that are independant but related to the ministry of education
  3. private agencies that are formally recognized as valid accreditors under certain national systems
  4. private agencies that function on a pure private basis.

It is this first group that is a cause of concern, either because the standards are unclear, or because the standards are defined in such a way as to advantage certain stakeholders and exclude others. As a general statement, it can be said that institutional accreditation by a private accreditation matching #4 above is not meaningful from the perspective of global recognition.

Is there a difference between "recognized" and "accredited"?

In some countries, there is no difference between the two concepts because the ministry of education is the sole controlling authority. Sometimes, a private institution is "authorized" to confer degrees without legal recognition that such degrees are treated in the same way as those conferred by public institutions. The UNESCO Portal on Recognized Higher Education Institutions has a definition section that shows that the two concepts are often synonymous, with the note that "accredited" indicated that the country has a separate accreditation mechanism that adds a layer of ongoing validation to the legal act of recognition.

Are institutions in a particular country obliged by law to recognize my degree?

It depends on the specifics of the situation. If the receiving or evaluating institution is a public agency, this is quite different than in the case of a private company or institution. Another factor will be the specific country of evaluation in relation to the country where the degree was conferred, and under what legal authority. Specific conventions exist at the regional level that are documented on this site and on the UNESCO site.



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