Accrediting universities and programmes is a hell of a job, ask me, I have worked in this field for a while and saw first-hand what the proposers of new universities or new programmes at an already established university go through in order to get the programme/university going. The whole thing starts with an idea, like any new type of business, but businesses do not go through the sorts of bureaucracy that universities and majors go through! Maybe its academia, maybe it’s because everyone is worried about the kids that will go through these universities or study that major, and maybe it’s just a way to procrastinate things so the idea will at the end die. However, with over 10000 universities in the world, I guess good ideas do not die that easily.
Anyway, after going through all the details and establishing the ins and outs of the programme, the universities have to submit documents to the council of education in its country, and then to the ministry, and only after it fulfils all the requirements from staff hiring, to facility, to dorms, library, playgrounds, etc that it can start its work and enrols students. Then it gets checked bi-annually by the accrediting team of the various councils, Vice-chancellors and whatnot, and before you know it, the university will also be the subject of accreditation in other countries, as all universities hope for diversification in terms of student body and professors. And to reach the rank, the university needs to have research, and that too lots of research that is published in international journals.
Ranking is the most difficult task, of course, and it is not easy, as it gets even more difficult by the day as we the educator find new criteria to rank the university by, for example, peer review, and students’ opinion has just become a new parameter to rank universities with, not just how much research it has, or how diversified the university’s student body is. So, for those that want to enter a university and want to know its rank, must first ensure why that university is number one, and if that suits the personality of that student or not.
Many countries have lists of approved universities on their websites, so the students of that country have it easy when they want to look for a place to study. In Bahrain, we do not have this system, instead, the ministry of education depends on neighbouring countries’ websites and advise students accordingly. I think our ministry had forgotten that we started the education system before any other Gulf country and it’s them who must look up to us and not vice versa. Bahrain has an abundance of intellect and of people that have a long time in Academia, so we can do this work ourselves and never to depend on others. Saudi for example removes universities or blocks them for oversubscribed numbers of Saudi students, so if a university is approved today, and our ministry tells the student this fact, and tomorrow the university is blocked by Saudi, what will our student do? Will the ministry approve his or her degree?
We want our own system of evaluation instead of depending on some other system that had been established to suit the purpose of that country only; depending on anyone else to tell us which university to study in.
We can evaluate universities by going through the sites of the various ministries of education in the various countries to see if the universities in those countries are approved or not; this is the simplest way to go. The other way is to have an office at the ministry or the cultural attaché offices abroad that receives the dossiers of the universities and evaluates them. That way our students are safe and will study with ease.