Sitting in the US or the UK, it is relatively simple to work out which local courses are accepted and which fell off the back of a lorry but across borders and in other countries it can be tough. Accreditation costs (lots of) money so most institutions must pick and choose what they want and balance that expenditure against the cost of real content-input to students. How to sort the sheep from the goats?
- The UNESCO list of nationally recognised universities is a start. It is not necessarily up to date, may have omissions and is not in itself a guarantee of quality – but it is useful.
- National lists such as this UK one or this US one are really helpful since – at the very least – the list members must have legal and tax status.
- Search web forums. Any university worth its name will have a happy group of alumni that have been around for years. Check the age/length of the chats and don’t just look for where the alumni are now working but check that out as well.
- Look for well-known professional accreditations. On the business side, AACSB/EQUIS/AMBA is useful but by no means essential. For ICT courses, Microsoft/Cisco/Avaya/etc is a good indicator of professional skills but is not necessarily an indicator of a high-level academic course (although all those compies are also associated with highly academic programmes).
- Beware of little-known professional accreditations. Yes, they may be good but if your grandfather has never heard of them, think twice. Are there also other more established accreditations? Or, do you have evidence that the institution is doing a serious turnaround?
- Look at the list of visiting and associate professors and check them out. Could they, in your opinion, really give time to all the places they claim? Can you find evidence of their work in other places?
- Look at the scholarships and funding lists. If the lists exist, they should reflect a wide range of interests and a wide range of donors. Check them.
That’s a start and anyone who wishes to add is most welcome.