British Accreditation Council
The British Accreditation Council for Independent Further and Higher Education was established in 1984 to provide quality assurance for independent further and higher education in the UK. BAC accreditation is recognised as the clearest mark of educational quality in the private sector. Alongside the British Council, whose Accreditation UK scheme serves as the definitive guide to the country’s English language centres, BAC has overseen the inspection of private post-16 education for over 30 years.
BAC encourages high standards of education offered by independent colleges and providing prospective students with a guide to quality.
Its central office staff, a network of expert inspectors, and consultants help independent education and training providers raise their standards.
BAC accreditation is recognised by the UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI), part of the Home Office, as a qualifying requirement for institutions wishing to enrol students on Short-Term Study Visas: students from outside the EEA will only secure a UK Short-Term Study Visa if they have an offer from an accredited institution.
The British Accreditation Council has been a member of Enqua since 2015, became a member of INQAAHE in 2006 and has a memorandum of agreement with the Quality Assurance Agency. The Chief Executive of the BAC is a member of the British Council’s Accreditation Scheme Advisory Committee. The British Accreditation Council is a stakeholder of the Federation of Awarding Bodies. It also a onto the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) since 2015 [clarification needed].
The charitable objectives of the organisation are:
- To improve and enhance the standards of independent further and higher educational institutions by the establishment of a system of accreditation of such institutions and bodies administering schemes for such institutions and by the provision of an advisory and consultancy service in the field of independent further and higher education;
- To define the eligibility of institutions and bodies to apply for such accreditation and to establish the criteria and standards to be observed by institutions and bodies applying for such accreditation;
- To arrange for inspection of institutions and bodies applying for such accreditation and to prescribe fees payable therefore;
- To act as the national accrediting authority for independent further and higher education.
Research and development activities
As well as assisting law enforcement in cases of potential fraud, the British Accreditation Council has provided evidence on the private sector to the UK parliament. In 2008, the charity undertook a research project on private further and higher education in Kosovo, as requested by the British Council and the Kosovo Government. The findings of that project were published in a report in July 2008, which was fully endorsed by the Kosovo Government.
In 2012 the organisation was commissioned along with CFE by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to provide a comprehensive picture of provision by privately funded institutions operating in the UK higher education (HE) sector.
Inspection and accreditation
The British Accreditation Council inspects and accredits around 250 organisations within the UK and overseas. An inspection of a private college assesses four main areas:
- Management, Staffing and Administration
- Teaching, Learning and Assessment
- Student Welfare
- Premises and Facilities.
As well as private colleges such as Hult International Business School, the charity inspects training providers such as Crown Agents. In October 2012, it announced that it would also inspect and accredit online colleges.
Non-UK colleges accredited by the organisation include, City College (international faculty of the University of Sheffield), AKMI Athens Metropolitan College, AKTO (Art & Design), American University of Culture & Education (AUCE), BCA (Business College Athens), HTMi, Hotel & Tourism Management Institute, IMI University Centre, Independent Science & Technology (IST) Studies, International University College, Sofia, Mediterranean College - Athens, Mediterranean College - Thessaloniki, New York College, Athens-SBS, New York College, Thessaloniki, Rushmore Business School, University of New York in Prague and VUZF University. Until October 2012, colleges outside the UK were only eligible for BAC accreditation if they offered higher education courses and had a formal validation agreement or other link with a UK higher education institution, awarding body or BAC-accredited college. In October 2012, a new accreditation scheme was launched for certain overseas institutions that did not meet these criteria.
Inspection reports are considered by the Accreditation Committee, which includes representatives from the British Council and the Council of Validating Universities.
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