Accreditation is the process which certifies the quality of an Institution of High Education (IHE) and its study programs. In our country this is done by the Agency for Accreditation of High Education and this is under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Education. There are many theories whether the government must get involved in the regulation and supervision of the education system or the demand-supply of the market must determine the rules of activity.

Nevertheless in a young market like ours, where the information related to IHE-s is limited and where people are bombarded by flyers and ads of universities, in tv-s and newspapers, or flyers on the streets, and there is a lack of consolidated tradition of these education institutions the role of the government to ensure quality becomes very important.

Given these conditions the accreditation must be seen as a very serious process which should be accomplished with great responsibility becasue it is in effect the only weapon that assures the students that they are getting a worthy degree, and on the other hand this is the moment when the government assures the public that an IHE and its programs meet the standarts.

Based on the information found on the website of the Agency for Accreditation of High Education, presently in Albania operate 39 Private Institutions of Higher Education which demonstrates that there is some sort of stability in the pace of their growth from year to year (in February of last year there were 38). However, according to information provided by the Ministry of Education, the number of accredited institutions continues to be only 14. This means that over 65% of private universities are still unaccredited. This number generally includes universitites which have began their operation after 2009.

Source : Ministry of Education and Sciences
Comments and analysis: Open Data Albania

Private Institutions of Higher Education oeprate with 229 different study programs such as Bachelors, Master of Science, Professional Master, Master of Second Level, etc which are degrees of different levels.

Based on the Law on Higher Education approved in 2007, article 62, e “Every institution of higher education or study program of higher public or private education, before issuing the first diplomas must submit to the process of accreditation. The first accreditation gives the right to a public or private university to issue diplomas recognized in the Republic of Albania. This means that the unaccredited programs which have issued diplomas for their first generation of students have issues invalid diplomas.

Still it is not clear how these diplomas will be treated if a student wants to register in an accredited master of Second Level which is accredited, or if the program will become accredited after the graduation of the first class.  Unclear is also the validity of diplomas issued by a university with the status “ Conditional Accreditation”. It is not clear whether these diplomas will be valid, since teh condition assumes the possibility that the programme may not be accredited. This is a big issue since 60% of the programs are still to be accredited.

Source : Ministry of Education and Sciences
Comments and analysis: Open Data Albania
* Refers to the table of data provided by Ministry of Education left blank or with a (?)

An even bigger problem are the “unlicensed and unaccredited” programs that have not even received the initial permit to start activitu. Minimally this institutions must be suspended or closed until they are licensed.

All these issues naturally give raise to the question over the process of accredition and how much faith must we put into it. This goes even further when we consider the fact that to this day we have not heard of a university that has been turned down by the accreditation authorities.  The information provided by the Ministry of Education shows that there are accredited, accredited on condition and unaccredited programs. But it does not clarify whether unaccredited means that the process has not been completed or whether the evaluation was negative.

This leads us to believe that either the accreditation process has become a useless routine, which once started may put some conditions but will eventually be completed, and this will explain why students do not pannic about going to an unaccredited university, and why the irresponsibility of the universities themselves, or that the Ministry of Education is not transparent when providing realted information to the public on negative evaluations.