Executive Director of the Grenada National Accreditation Board (GNAB), Pauleen Finlay, said inconsistencies in the Accreditation Act #15 of 2011, led to GNAB’s hosting of a 2-day consultation, from 17-18 October 2018, at the Grenada National Stadium, to obtain the stakeholder feedback needed to review and revise the act.
Technical Support for the consultation was provided by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), under the project, “Strengthening and Sustaining Structures and Processes for Administration Quality Assurance in Post-Secondary Institutions in Grenada.”
The 4 components of this project are:
- Revision of Legislation /Review of Legal Framework
- Creation of an Operating Manual
- Creation of electronic accreditation toolkits and packages
- Capacity building: second phase for training for accreditation site evaluators; site evaluators training for professionals/programmes; self-study preparation
Review and revision of the legal framework is only one component of the project, which is expected to end in March 2019.
Finlay said, “As we start to implement the activities, identified or stated in the act, responsibilities and roles of GNAB, we realise that there are some inconsistencies and some things that challenge the implementation of the accreditation process, as it’s written in the act. In addition, accreditation has gone through a lot of recent changes, some of which should be reflected in the act, if GNAB is to be recognised, as an accreditation agency that abides by the UNESCO and CHEA framework.”
CHEA, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation in the United States, is a non-profit association that focuses exclusively on higher education accreditation. CHEA accredits the accreditors.
During the consultation, Finlay noted topics raised for discussion, which included the extent of the power given to the Minister for Education by the act; the composition of the GNAB, to include the qualification and skill set required of its members, to debate issues and make accreditation-related decisions, and the absence of regulations needed to govern the Accreditation Act.
The consultation also focused on ensuring that clauses within the act are current, pertinent and in the best interest of GNAB’s development. Legal Drafter from the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Jennine Bernard, who will be working on the revision of the Act, assisted with its review.
The external facilitator, Michael Bradshaw, presented an overview of quality assurance in higher education, focusing specifically on implications for the legal review. The consultant commended the work GNAB has done thus far, among other things.
“Accreditation is a partnership – a partnership between the institutions and the regulatory body, in that to ensure that the policies and regulations put in place is fair to all and, most important, fit to the interest of the students,” he said.
With regard to the ease with which educational institutions would be expected fall into compliance and begin remitting fees, as mandated by the Accreditation Act, Bradshaw noted that, throughout the Caribbean, countries were usually given a moratorium, or period of time, within which time they prepared to meet the requirements of the act.
“In Trinidad it was like about 3 years before the institutions, before it is impacted upon them – sufficient time. There was training given to the institutions; to the external evaluators, so both the regulator and the institutions would have been on the same page and that is actually a very fair process, so I am sure that the GNAB would give the institutions sufficient time,” he said.
Bradshaw is confident that the GNAB consultation will serve its intended purpose.
He said, “Hearing the conversations and the discussions going on, I am sure that they will have enough information to make recommendations to the board and to the Ministry of Education.”
Finlay noted why it is important that tertiary institutions are in line with the regulations of the Accreditation Act and international requirements.
She said, “Very soon the students graduating from their institutions must hold a certificate from an internationally recognised accreditation body and not just somebody who is self-accredited.”
Both Finlay and Bradshaw urged students who sign up for courses or degree programmes offered by various entities, to ensure that the educational institution is accredited. GNAB is the agency in Grenada that can provide this verification service. Interested persons can contact GNAB at 473-232-1970, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. GNAB can also be found on Facebook at ‘Grenada National Accreditation Board’ and via their website at www.accreditation.gd.
Finlay provided a small update on the progress of the accreditation process for one tertiary institution in Grenada. She said, “We’re hoping that by next year – the earlier part of next year – we should complete St George’s University.”
Finlay expressed GNAB’s appreciation for the support COL is providing to Small Island States of the Commonwealth, in the area of higher education, and is optimistic about GNAB’s continued progress, in the field of accreditation.
Ministry of Education