How do you fundamentally differentiate between accreditation agencies and how do you recognize that an accreditation agency is respected and lawful? One differentiates between accreditation agencies when one looks at whether an agency is recognized by a state government, or merely created without any recognition by a government. Only once officially approved can an accreditation agency apply for membership to associations such as CHEA / CIQG in the USA, or ENQA in Europe. If an agency is a member of one of the associations, it is then a recognized agency.
How is the value or quality of an agency distinguished? In principle, the individual agencies follow guidelines that either comply with the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) or that comply with the American guidelines. Both guidelines are accepted procedures that can be considered as demanding very high quality standards.
What other distinction is there with regard to accreditation agencies? Not every agency, although registered, can accredit programs and/or institutions. Most accreditation agencies are authorized to accredit programs such as bachelors and masters respectively. Not all agencies accredit doctoral programs, and not all agencies are authorized to accredit an entire system or institution. This system accreditation for new universities is very necessary when these wish to have their concept and corresponding petition approved.
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