The new standards have been developed to cover the licensing and accreditation of all types of higher education institutions, including government universities (federal and local), private universities, specialised universities (eg police and army), branches of international universities, and free zone universities.
His Excellency Dr Ahmad bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, said: “This new set of standards we are launching follows the directives of our wise leadership to develop the higher education system, upgrade our academic institutions, and promote scientific courses as a means to meet the requirements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, all while achieving the UAE’s strategic objectives and empowering a generation of qualified professionals to come up with solutions to local challenges in all sectors.”
“Students are our true wealth,” H.E. Al Falasi added; “they are the motivation behind all of our efforts. With the new standards, we look forward to creating a positive environment at higher education institutions, where graduates leave with in-depth knowledge, having developed the necessary advanced skills to meet the requirements of the future. We are confident that the coming years will see more UAE universities join the ranks of the world’s top 100 universities, further enhancing the reputation of Emirati education and the opportunities it affords to students in the region and the world.”
Meanwhile, H.E. Dr Mohammed Ebrahim Al-Mualla, Undersecretary for Academic Affairs of Higher Education, said: “The newly launched accreditation standards serve to ensure the quality of higher education and raise awareness among both students and parents about the importance of pursuing higher education at institutions accredited by the Ministry of Education. Furthermore, they add value to qualifications obtained from UAE institutions both locally and abroad, which, in turn, boosts students’ and their parents’ confidence in these institutions and enriches the educational system across the country.”
“What truly sets the new criteria apart is the fact that they embrace quality-based accreditation and licensing procedures, where higher education institutions are classified into several levels according to quality, and “high-quality” institutions will be rewarded.”
H.E. Al-Mualla urged students and parents to make sure they enrol exclusively in Ministry licensed institutions and their accredited programmes.
For his part, Dr Mohamed Yousif Baniyas, Director of the Commission for Academic Accreditation of the Ministry of Education, said: “The new standards seek to facilitate the licensure and accreditation procedures applied to higher education institutions without compromising the quality of education.”
Dr Baniyas called on higher education institutions to cooperate and ensure that their applications for licensure and accreditation contain the necessary information to avoid delays in procedures, and to respond in a timely manner to comments and requirements of the external review teams assigned by the Ministry, in order to allow the Commission to issue licensure and accreditation certificates quickly and seamlessly.
Seamless Licensing and Accreditation Procedures
The new accreditation standards allow the Ministry of Education to facilitate the licensure and accreditation procedures applied to higher education institutions without compromising the quality of education. Higher education institutions are now required to, electronically, submit a brief “self-assessment report” outlining their strategy, quality assurance principles, syllabi, faculty members, educational resources, facilities, and laboratories. The Ministry is currently working on launching an electronic platform in order to remain up to date on technological developments, and promote a paperless approach to licensing higher education institutions and accrediting their programmes.
The new standards are rooted in a quality-based evaluation, which considers the national and international ranking of an institution, its reputation, academic history, international accreditations it has secured for its programmes, and its compliance with the Ministry of Education’s standards, decisions, and requirements. Institutions are then classified along several levels.
The standards were designed to be applied flexibly, where “high-quality” institutions will have many advantages, most notably, a seven-year interval between reviews for licensing and accreditation; the opportunity to have multiple programmes reviewed at once; smaller evaluation teams to visit the institution during a review; shorter evaluation visits; and priority in introducing new programmes, which cuts licensing and accreditation costs by more than 50%.
Meanwhile, the criteria will be implemented differently at “lower-quality” institutions, which will be subject to reviews every three years, with longer visits from larger external review teams, as well as more regular and extensive inspections from the Inspection Department at the Ministry. In addition, a more stringent process will be used to evaluate applications for new programmes from such institutions. These institutions and their programmes can also be placed under probation if their quality drops below a certain level and/or if they maintain low quality scores for long periods.
Comprehensive Standards with Specific Indicators
The new standards also include improvements to address the gaps in existing standards: They outline a clearer procedure for establishing new institutions; identify the measures needed for closing institutions and suspending programmes; clarify violations and corresponding penalties; and set standards for e-learning, recognising prior education, and for educational hospitals and training centres; in addition to determining the financial obligations of higher education institutions.
Specific indicators have been put in place to measure each standard and provide a detailed explanation of its requirements. One of the new standards, for instance, pertains to faculty members. It determines the ratio of faculty members to number of students in a particular discipline and the criteria for selecting faculty members according to the requirements of various specialisations within the university, among other requirements. Furthermore, the indicators cover all criteria related to the educational process from curricula, programmes, and facilities, to activities, and admission conditions for students.
© Press Release 2019