November 25, 2016 by Staff Reporter
The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) says registered institutions for higher education that are not accredited are not supposed to close as feared by many, but rather work towards qualification for accreditation.
NCHE Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Mathilda Chithira Munthali, said this on Thursday at a press briefing held at the Council’s offices in Lilongwe to clear the confusion that was caused by the list the Council released recently on accredited institutions.
She said the duly registered institutions should rather work towards rectifying the shortfalls identified by a team of independent reviewers, within the time given in their institutional improvement plan.
“The Council’s efforts are geared towards supporting the institutions to work on the shortfalls but if they fail to do so the Council may proceed with deregistration of the institutions and programmes,” Munthali said.
She added that Section 27 (2) of the NCHE Act made it a requirement that the Council should evaluate higher education institutions every programme cycle for accreditation and that when read together with Section 36 (3) of the NCHE Act, it was clear that accreditation was mandatory for all higher education institutions, be they public or private.
The CEO said the Council maintained a list of all registered institutions and programmes in the country and that repeated failure to meet standards could lead to deregistration of the institutions or programmes.
According to Munthali, the accreditation is meant to ensure that the standards of higher education in the country are comparable to the standards in the region and internationally.
She said the accreditation exercise ensured that higher education institutions maintained the standards of their programmes because they evaluated every programme cycle, hence giving assurance to employers, students and sponsors that the qualifications issued by the institutions were of an acceptable standard.
Munthali stressed that the list that the Council released recently was of the institutions that were evaluated for accreditation and that the institutions that were not mentioned in the list, such as Mzuni, were yet to be evaluated and that the public would be informed of the results when they had undergone the exercise.
The NCHE CEO said the public ought to understand the difference between registration and accreditation and that NCHE only deregistered institutions that the Council felt were not making good progress towards improvement of the standards as advised by the Council.
She explained that for a higher education institution to qualify for registration it must meet the minimum standards for registration set by the Council while for an institution or programme to be accredited they must each meet national and international quality standards of the factors outlined in Section 28 (2) of the NCHE Act.
NCHE’s recent media statement listing institutions that were not accredited caused discomfort and uncertainty among learners, parents and the institutions, which questioned the exercise’s criterion and sought clarification on the way forward.
On Wednesday, the Parliamentary Committee on education also appealed to the Council to explain the process and to outline the future of the institutions that were not accredited.