NAC is working to ensure post-secondary, tertiary institutions are registered

GINA, GUYANA, Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The National Accreditation Council (NAC) is expanding its efforts to register post-secondary and tertiary institutions operating in Guyana. Executive Director of NAC, Deborah Jack recently stated the aforementioned during an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA).

Jack explained that registration is the mandatory process whereby these institutions demonstrate they have the capacity to offer quality higher education. “It also provides a legal framework for protecting the interests of students, parents and other stakeholders in the tertiary education sector.”

All post-secondary and tertiary institutions must be registered with the NAC to operate in Guyana, the Executive Director added. She however, noted that despite being set up, for some 13 years, of the 35 institutions listed on the agency’s book, only 11 are fully registered. She further noted that two are in the process of being registered and two are provisionally registered. The latter means that these institutions have been given a period of time to get themselves ready for registration.

Executive Director of the National Accreditation Council of Guyana, Deborah Jack

Now that the NAC is growing, and it is in a better position to deliver it services, Jack explained that the agency is currently “working with institutions so that they can get registered and obtain the official approval to be in existence.”

This effort is largely being driven by an enhanced public awareness campaign that not only involves heightened social media presence, but regional consultations with regional councillors, other stakeholders, and talks with students preparing to leave the secondary education system. The focus of these public awareness sessions aims not only to introduce NAC and its functions and responsibility to its stakeholders, but also greater understanding about the national quality framework, Jack explained.

“Because of the fact that NAC is not well known, we want to get NAC out in the public, and that is why we are moving around the country to speak to the regional councillors, education and any other institutions or group of persons that would be willing to listen, to let them know that there is an agency like NAC that is responsible for education at that level, and for ensuring that the quality of education at that level is good, so that they can make contact with us, so that we can work together to improve education,” she explained.

“We want to make people aware that education should have a certain quality. It should not be any shabby thing that people are offering and asking for a whole lot of money. If they (the institutions) are going to do that then, they should give people their money’s worth…,” she added.

The actual registration process starts with the institution submitting a letter of intent to NAC stating that it wishes to be registered, the type and level of qualifications offered and the number of sites and campuses.

This would see NAC commencing a process of certifying the institution, whereby it must test to ensure that the institution meets a certain minimum operating standards. “This registration process is not just putting your name down on a register, you have to go through a quality assured process, which allows the institution to be measured against these standards to ensure that they meet the required standards, and we look at  minimum required standards to allow them to function, open and start offering their service,” Jack explained.

The institutions would be judged on seven criteria and 23 standards. The seven criteria are legal, policy and regulatory requirements, governance and administration, quality management system, resource management, teaching and learning process, process for review and for continuous improvement.

Once this process is completed, the status granted to an institution depends on the extent to which that institution satisfies the criteria for registration. Jack explained that registration for a year means that “an institution has a lot of work to be done to becoming what they should be.” The ideal status is to get a registration for three years. Jack explained that an institution must meet the maximum registration status of three years before it can apply for accreditation.

The NAC was set up by an act of parliament in 2004 with the mandate of ensuring that education offered at the post-secondary and tertiary institutions, meet the required standards. In promoting this quality and standard of education and training in Guyana, NAC provides five services to higher education institutions; programme approval, accreditation, recognition of foreign qualification and awarding bodies, equivalency of foreign qualifications and registration of institutions.

Jack said that though the agency has been very involved in registering the institutions, it has also been able to offer equivalence of qualification, and is now preparing to begin programme approval “in a big way.” The other two services, accreditation and recognition of foreign qualification, “we are not there yet, but we are preparing to get there as soon as possible.”

By: Macalia Santos