Accreditation is a formal decision to recognise a programme that according to an independent organisation or agency meets the predefined quality standards.
Accreditation is the only one part of the quality assurance system of higher education in Flanders, Belgium. This quality assurance system consists of three parts: an internal part, an external part and the part where the formal decision is taken.
The self-evaluation of the programme is organised by the higher education institution itself and results in the self-evaluation report.
The self-evaluation report is the starting point of the external quality assessment. The result of the external quality assessment is the assessment report.
The external quality assessment is organised by the VLIR and VLHORA. They organise these assessments by setting up an independent assessment panel of experts responsible for assessing all the programmes in a certain field of study. The assessment panel consists of experts in the field of study, experts in quality assurance, educational/pedagogical experts and experts in the international development of the field of study. Students are always involved and represented in the assessment panel.
The Netherlands and Flanders have set up an independent accreditation organisation by international treaty, the NVAO.
Higher education programmes that have successfully gone through the external quality assessment sent their assessment report to the NVAO. The NVAO then evaluates the thoroughness of the external assessment and accepts or rejects its findings.
A positive accreditation decision by the NVAO results in the recognition of the programme and is kept or listed in the Higher Education Register for 8 years.
If the programme is not accredited it will be deleted from the Higher Education Register and the higher education institution cannot grant a recognised degree.
Accreditation is a prerequisite for awarding bachelor's or master's degrees education funding and study financing for students.
More information about accreditation can be found on: http://www.nvao.net.