ABU DHABI // The emirate’s largest private university is seeking US accreditation to raise its standards.
Abu Dhabi University is under review by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which visited the campus in November and made recommendations to move ADU towards the benchmarks.
“This accreditation is important worldwide in terms of recognition,” said Dr Nabil Ibrahim, the university’s chancellor. “For our graduates, they will be recognised in the US if they want to study a postgraduate degree or even use their degree for work.”
Dr Ibrahim said that as one of more than 70 private universities operating in the UAE, accreditation at home by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research’s commission for academic accreditation “distinguishes us from the others” and was a “statement of quality assurance”.
WASC accreditation usually requires seven years but after two ADU is in the home stretch and needs only to put the recommendations into practice for an end-of-year decision.
The university, which has 5,000 students, was instructed to hire a director of student affairs and address quality of life for students on campus, as well as allow for a bigger research budget for academics.
The director of student affairs has been appointed and the research budget for the coming year doubled to Dh6 million.
“For Abu Dhabi University to move from candidate status to being fully accredited will be quite an achievement and the first recognised [here] by WASC,” said education consultant Dean Hoke, co-founder of Edu Alliance, an education consulting services company.
“In my view, it enhances our ability to compete in North America in the recruitment of faculty and administration staff. It also helps students who are considering going to the United States for additional education.”
Other institutions in the UAE with US accreditation include the American Universities of Sharjah and Dubai and Zayed University.
“Accreditation is a multi-year process that involves self-studies done by academic departments, followed by external review and visits by teams from the accreditation authorities,” said Kevin Mitchell, acting provost of AUS, which was accredited by the US Middle States Commission on Higher Education in 2004.
“For prospective students and parents, accreditation provides some degree of quality assurance as educational institutions must meet minimum standards.”
“In terms of the value for universities, accreditation provides opportunities for peer review to ensure that programmes are offered in accordance with international standards established for disciplines.
“As many students in the Gulf are likely to pursue careers in many parts of the world, it is important for them to have credentials from programmes that have been accredited by internationally recognised organisations.”