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In order to gain insight into years of experience of U.S. institutions in the accreditation procedures, as well as recent trends, Agency for Science and Higher Education representatives participated in the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) annual conference in Washington, from January 24th to 26th 2011.

The conference gathered representatives of various organizations (public authorities, higher education institutions and accreditation bodies) and provided an excellent opportunity for exchange of experiences and latest insights in the current and future role of accreditation in the U.S. higher education system. In the light of increased demand and development of mass higher education, one of the key challenges is to assure the quality of higher education. There is a near-consensus on the key importance of accreditation in this endeavor, but only if it is further enhanced and dedicated to increasing public awareness of its role and importance.


One of the novelties presented by the U.S. Department of Education is the introduction of credit hours (hours of student work presented by the expected learning outcomes and supported by evidence of student achievement) as one of the criteria in the future accreditation procedures. Also, there was a discussion of the need to develop national standards and measures for accreditation procedures, similar to those developed on the European level.

This goes to prove that in addition to quality assurance and the burning issue of cutting higher education costs in the recession, one of the key issues drawing much attention is the Bologna reform. The conference thus included a presentation of the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) as well as the project of ranking higher education institutions (U-Multirank) to compare similar higher education institutions (U-Map).
Quality assurance activities of major Arab countries were also presented at the conference.

Other important topics discussed were for-profit colleges and learning outcomes, with an annual CHEA award for the institutions successful in their implementation.
Presentations from the conference can be downloaded here.

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