- As the quality assurance body for tertiary education, the UCJ believes that the products and services it offers should be of a high standard. The Council’s role is developmental and as such the focus is on guiding institutions in the development and strengthening of their operations and programme offerings. The UCJ also believes that its role includes assisting institutions along the path of continuous improvement.
Aim and Purpose of RegistrationThe aim of registration is to certify that an institution meets certain minimum operation standards required for the conduct of a tertiary institution in Jamaica. It is also a first step towards accreditation of programmes offered by an institution.
Registration provides an institution with the opportunity to establish a formal, publicly recognized relationship with the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ), and is the recommended approach to seeking accreditation from the UCJ. Registration therefore is a pre-accreditation status. The criteria for registration are closely related to the criteria for accreditation since they are meant to provide registered institutions with a foundation for logical development towards accreditation.
Guidelines for RegistrationAny institution seeking registration by the University Council of Jamaica must document its compliance with each of the following conditions:
- The institution has a structure of governance which formulates general policies and exercises authority over the implementation of academic programmes.
- The institution has a clearly defined and published statement of purposes (Mission Statement).
- The institution has published admission policies compatible with its stated purpose.
- The institution offers one or more educational programmes (or curricula) consistent with its mission.
- The institution enrolls students in at least one tertiary/higher educational programme normally requiring at least one academic year for completion, and has students actively pursuing such a programme at the time of the Council's evaluation.
- The institution has a evaluation process which assists students in attaining a certificate, diploma or degree.
- The institution has a plan, as well as a planning and evaluation process, which addresses its educational, physical and financial growth.
- The institution has an adequate academic staff as well as administrative and technical support in terms of quality and quantity.
- The institution owns sufficient learning resources or, ensures the provision of access to adequate learning resources and services required to support the courses and programmes offered.
- The institution has adequate accommodation.
- The institution has available an audited statement made within the year prior to the Council's visit
Procedures for Registration
- The Director (Principal), of the institution interested in registration should obtain application forms from the University Council of Jamaica along with a copy of the guidelines for registration.
- The institution should provide the information requested in the application form to document its compliance with the Guidelines for Registration. This submission constitutes a primary source of information used by the Council to evaluate the institution and to decide on its status with the Council.
- The application will be reviewed by the University Council of Jamaica. If the review is favourable, a registration team will be formed to visit the institution at the schelduled mutually convenient date. The principal task of the registration team will be determined whether the institution is in compliance with the Guidelines for Registration.
- The report of the registration team will be sent by the Council to the Principal of the institution who will be invited to review the report and submit a written response to the recommendations by a specified date.
- The application, the registrations team's report and the institution's response to the report will be reviewed by the Accreditation, Curriculum and Development Committee of the Council. This committee will make its recommendations regarding registration of the institution, to the Council who after due consideration, make a decision on the institution's registration status.
- The institution will be informed of the Council's decision by letter stating the conditions of registration. In the first instance, institutions will normally be registered for a period of four years during which time annual status report must be submitted to the Council. At the end of the registration period the institution must apply for re-registration.
- After registration, the institution should endeavour to seek accreditation for one or more of its programmes.
- The cost incurred by the registration process including maintenance must be borne by the institution. The Council will provide the relevant fee structure.
Accreditation ProcessTo be eligible for programme accreditation, institutions must first seek registration with the UCJ. The aim of registration is to certify that an institution meets certain minimum operating standards required for the conduct of a tertiary institution in Jamaica.
Registration provides an institution with the opportunity to establish a formal, publicly recognized relationship with the UCJ. Registration therefore is a pre-accreditation status. The criteria for registration are closely related to the criteria for accreditation since they are meant to provide registered institutions with a foundation for logical development towards accreditation.
The following are the steps required in seeking accreditation for programmes:
The Application & Self Study
- A registered institution seeking UCJ's accreditation of its programmes must make application to the UCJ and conduct a self-study. The self-study is a thorough evaluation through which an institution formally examines itself, assesses its strengths and weaknesses, and plans how to capitalize on those strengths and to improve on the areas of weaknesses. Careful self-evaluation is crucial to any institution's effectiveness. The self-study is therefore intended to assist in institutional planning and development.
- The institution submits the completed application form detailing the programme's philosophy and structure; method of assessment; learning resources; staffing; admission requirements and selection procedures; analysis of intake and destination of graduates. This is accompanied by (i) required supplementary information such as syllabuses, examination papers, booklists, timetable and samples projects; and (ii) the institutional self-study.
Processing by the UCJ
- The Council reviews the material supplied by the institution to verify completeness of application submissions to determine if the institution is a candidate for accreditation.
- The Council then communicates with the institution on an appropriate date for a site visit. Care is taken to ensure that the date is convenient to all parties involved.
- The Council selects a team of professionals who will visit the institution and evaluate the programme. The evaluation team is usually drawn from professional educators and practicing professionals chosen for competence in fields relevant to the programme being evaluated.
- The institution is notified of the composition of the team in order to minimize conflict of interest. While the Council reserves the right to make the final choice, the institution is invited to inform the Council of any concerns or reservations it may have about any member of the team.
The Site Visit
- The evaluation team conducts a visit to the institution. The visit is comprised of (i) a series of interviews with administration, faculty, students, graduates and employers of graduates from the programme, and any other relevant stakeholders (ii) an examination of the institution's facilities: lecture rooms, library, laboratories, computer facilities, recreational provisions, etc. The team may also observe classes' in-session.
- Once the composition of the team has been finished, the members are thoroughly briefed and assigned specific tasks.
The Evaluation Report and Institutional Response
- The evaluation team prepares a report on the visit, which provides a summary of strengths and weaknesses and offers advice, suggestions and recommendations to the institution.
- A copy of the report is sent to the Principal/President of the institution who is invited to submit to the UCJ a written response to the comments and recommendations.
- The team's report and the institution's response are reviewed by the UCJ's Accreditation, Curriculum and Development Committee, a sub-committee of the Council, which makes recommendations regarding accreditation to the Council.
- The Council makes the final decision at its next sitting. The institution is informed of this decision by letter, stating the conditions for accreditation.
Preparing For Accreditation
Site VisitOnce the Council's processing of the institution's application has been completed, the machinery is put in place to affect the site visit.
Setting the dateOn the day of the site visit the institution must be able to give its undivided attention to the demands that the team will make of the institution. The institution therefore needs to give careful thought to the proposed date before making a firm commitment.
Institutions should therefore ensure that:
- There is no other scheduled campus activity, nor is there in progress preparation for any upcoming event (e.g. Board meeting, graduation, professional meeting) which will compete with the visit for the attention of the administration and staff
- The relevant faculty and administration are available for the duration of time needed.
- Students are in classes so that classes in progress may be observed.
- A sufficient number of students and staff are available to ensure a reasonable selection for the required interviews.
Selection of interview groupsThe site visit will be comprised of a number of interviews with representatives drawn from the following groups: administration, faculty, students, graduates and employers of graduates.
A major source of information on which the team will base its judgement is the information that is gleaned from these interviews. Institutions should therefore ensure that individuals who comprise the groups can give accurate and comprehensive information in response to the questions/issues raised by the evaluating team. Each group should be as broad-based as possible to facilitate a wide range of responses to the questions posed by the visiting team.
Institutions should therefore, as much as possible and as appropriate, take the following factors into consideration when determining the composition of the groups to be interviewed:
Representatives from the policymaking body and senior administrative staff should be able to respond to issues relating to:
- Developmental plans;
- Admission policies and trends;
- Programme development and review;
- Staff recruitment and supervision;
- Student assessment and student performance;
- Quality assurance issues.
Selection of faculty, students and graduates should be representative of a cross section of the relevant group and should be drawn from:
- Full-time/part-time lecturers from a cross-section of courses;
- Staff with varying lengths of service.
- Different year groups;
- Educational background and prior qualifications which exemplify the various entry requirements;
- Day/evening programmes;
- Full-time/part-time enrollment.
- A range of graduation years;
- Graduates from full-time/part-time programmes;
- A range of employment settings.
- Employers of graduates invited to meet with the evaluation team should represent a diversity of services offered in order to give the team a sense of how well the graduates are meeting the varying needs of the job market.
- Representatives from the policymaking body and senior administrative staff should be able to respond to issues relating to:
Meeting room for the visiting teamThe visiting team needs to be highly focussed on the proceedings of the visit if it is to make sound judgements of the programme. One way that the institution can facilitate this is to ensure that the designated meeting room is as comfortable as possible with minimum distractions.
Ensure therefore that the meeting room is:
- Properly ventilated and with adequate lighting;
- Of adequate size to easily accommodate all participants;
- Away from potentially distracting activities;
- Suitably furnished for reasonable comfort.
Selection of the visiting teamTeam members must:
- have appropriate academic credentials;
- bring to the team relevant academic and professional experience;
- have an understanding of the context in which programmes and services in question must fit;
- have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the UCJ standards;
- be able to evaluate objectively and impartially;
- have no vested interest in, or conflict of interest with the institution to be visited;
- treat all documents and information in a confidential manner.
The Council reserves the right to make the final choice of all evaluation teams. However, institutions will be notified of the membership of the team and should inform the Council of any concerns or reservations it may have about any member of the team.
Annual Status ReportsOne of the conditions of accreditation is the submission of annual reports in the status of the accredited programme. Such reports must inform the Council of:
- Steps taken to satisfy any conditions upon which accreditation was granted;
- Any substantive changes in programme structure, course content, staffing, equipment and teaching facilities, requirements for student admissions, and financing arrangements.
Re-accreditationRe-affirmation of the accreditation of a programme must occur at the end of the period of accreditation. Accreditation and re-accreditation are similar in both substance and procedure.
There will be a complete review of the programme by a visiting team which will, among other things, revisit the initial report to determine developments which the institution has implemented to maintain and enhance the quality of the programme and verify that the institution has effected any condition to accreditation which the Council may have imposed.
Re-accreditation is not automatic. Institutions must satisfy the Council that they continue to meet UCJ requirements for accreditation. The Council may shorten the period of accreditation or even refuse re-affirmation if it is found that the standards of the programme have not been maintained.
Institutions should submit application for reaccreditation at least three months prior to expiry of accreditation.
Disclosure and confidentialityThe Council's ability to render sound judgement is enabled by institutions' willingness to provide complete and candid information on its organization and programmes. The effectiveness and integrity of the accreditation process is therefore dependent upon a relationship of mutual trust between the Council and the associated institutions.
The information supplied by institutions and UCJ's findings and recommendations relating to institutions and programmes are exchanged within an atmosphere of confidentiality and professional integrity.
Information about institutions not normally in the public domain will be treated as privileged information. The Council therefore will not publicize any statements or other data that institutions submit for accreditation purposes, nor will it make public the substance of any advice offered to institutions.
Accreditation feesInstitutions will incur costs at various stages of the accreditation process:
- On submission of application to UCJ for accreditation consideration, the appropriate application fee must be paid by the institution.
- Institutions must re-imburse the Council for all costs related to the evaluation visit. This will include: (a) Cost of travel and airfare (where necessary) for team members; (b) Hotel expenses and meals for the visiting team; (c) Honorarium for team members.
- To this effect, an invoice will be presented to the institution along with the report of the evaluation team. The charges are then immediately due.
- Once a programme has been accredited by the Council an annual maintenance fee becomes payable. An invoice for this fee will be presented to the institution along with the letter from the Council advising of accreditation. Thereafter, the annual fee becomes due on the anniversary date of the programme's accreditation.
Purpose and Value of
The over-riding purpose of accreditation is to assure:
- Educational Quality which is defined and interpreted within the context of the institution's/programme's statement of scope and purpose as compared with conditions that are believed to be necessary and desirable to produce educational quality; and by looking at evidence that the programme does achieve the stated outcomes.
- Institutional Integrity, that is, determination that the programme is in fact what it says it is and does what it says it does.
In fulfilling its purposes, accreditation provides services to several constituencies: institutions, students, and the general public.
To the Institutions
- The process allows institutions to perform self-evaluation and self-direction towards institutional and programme improvement. It enhances an institution's capacity for change and facilitates a structured mechanism for research, self- analysis and self-improvement.
- Accreditation provides public certification of acceptable institutional quality thus enhancing the reputation of an institution and its programmes and inspiring confidence in the educational community and the public it serves.
- Accreditation provides opportunity for consultation and advice from persons of other institutions and professional bodies (local and international).
To the Student
- Accreditation provides students with an assurance that the educational programme(s) of an institution have been found to be satisfactory and should therefore meet the needs of the student.
- An award from an institution with an accredited programme provides (a) students with a prerequisite for entering a profession; (b) a basis for admission into further studies by both local and foreign educational institutions; (c) assistance in the transfer of credits between institutions through the general acceptance of credits among accredited institutions and where the credits to be transfered are appropriate to the receiving institution.
To the Public
- Accreditation provides an assurance of external evaluation of the programme and a determination that there is conformity to general expectations.
- It provides an identification of institutions and programmes, which have voluntarily undertaken and successfully completed explicit activities towards improving the quality of their offerings.
- It provides an avenue for improvement in educational services available to the public through mechanisms for continuous programme evaluation leading to modifications reflecting changes in knowledge and practice generally accepted in the particular field.
The accrediting process is intended to strengthen and sustain the quality of education, making it worthy of public confidence.
To achieve the accreditation objectives, a number of features must be considered, but in order to encourage diversity, the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) is particularly careful not to be prescriptive. Furthermore many elements are not quantifiable and value judgements are necessary.
Among the elements considered in the process are:
- The quality of the students
- The quality of the staff
- The quality of the programme (Aims and philosophy, Structure/content, Practical work)
- Assessment Methods
- Student Support Services
The Quality of the Students
- Entry standards should be published and students should be admitted according to these published standards.
- Criteria should be developed for selecting students with alternative qualifications.
- Selection procedures should be clear and a commitment to these should be demonstrated.
- Students should: (a) display a high level of motivation and enthusiasm for the programme; (b) display competence in oral and written communication skills; (c) demonstrate the ability to undertake independent study.
- Careers and employment patterns of graduates should be documented.
The Quality of
- display a high level of academic rigour.
- be appropriately qualified in the discipline.
- be actively engaged in research activities and be able to show how these activities influence the programme.
- have professional affiliations;
- have a record of publications.
- have contact with business/professions/industry through activities such as recent industrial/business/professional consultancies and secondments to industry/ business.
- display motivation, enthusiasm and commitment to the programme.
Other areas to be considered in the assessment of the quality of the faculty include:
- The staff work load.
- The extent to which staff shape the course and their commitment to the course philosophy.
- Staff/student relations.
- Staff development policy and activities.
- Inculcate a professional ethos.
- Show clarity and coherence.
- Achieve the declared aims and objectives.
- Possess facilities underpinning the particular philosophy of special subjects.
- Concentrate on the career patterns envisaged.
- Show industrial/business/academic liaison in its development.
- Encourage adaptability and flexibility for the graduate output.
The structure of the programme should reflect the following:
- The nature of the programme: design orientation, breadth/depth.
- The curriculum: balance, coverage, and intellectual level.
- The syllabuses: currency, coherence, and adequacy of mechanism for change.
- The rate of change such as ability to keep up-to-date with modern technologies.
- Inclusion of professional studies and general education course for broadening purposes.
- Exposure to current industrial/business/professional practices.
The structure of the programme should reflect the following: Practical work should incorporate the following:
- Varied laboratory work: structured, open-ended, mini projects, computer applications.
- Project work: method of topic selection, individual or group activity, oral/ written presentation, and opportunity for industrial/ business/ professional involvement.
- Level and style of examinations
- Examining strategy and philosophy.
- The role of projects, their assessment and weighting.
- Laboratory and course work assessment and their contribution to the degree programme.
- Progress of students: failure rate, repeats, resits patterns.
- Communication skills, written and oral.
Emphasis should be placed on the following:
- Library: availability of books from recommended booklists, accessibility, range of modern text books and current journals, internet facilities.
- Computing facilities
- Laboratories, range, quality, quantity and modernity
- Support Staff
- Adequate resources for projects
- Adequate financial resources
Provision for student support services should include:
- Counselling services
- Work/study arrangements
- Recreational facilities
- Loan facilities, scholarships, grants, etc.
- Cafeteria Facilities
Institutions are required to obtain approval for any substantive change in the accredited programme(s) prior to the commencement of the change. Where an institution is unsure if the change that is to occur is substantial, it should contact the UCJ for clarification.
A substantive change is defined as a change that significantly modifies the accredited programme in any form or fashion. Institutions are required to notify the Council of any proposed change in an institution’s mission, objective, scope, programmes, location, financial stability, name, ownership or control, and any other factors that could substantially affect the policies, staff, curricula, reputation, legal or financial status.
Substantive changes within the accredited programme must be approved by the Council for continuation of accredited status. A substantive change may require a visit by the Council. When such a visit is required, the team will evaluate the institution for compliance with any of the policies, criteria and procedures of the University Council of Jamaica.
Institutions are to note that failure to seek approval from the Council of a substantive change may result in loss of accredited status.
Institutions are also required to inform the UCJ of any change which would affect communication between the Council and the institution. Such changes shall include but are not limited to:
- Change in mailing address
- Change of Director/Principal
- Change of telephone number
- Change in e-mail address