Lebanese universities struggle with international recognition

BEIRUT: Although Lebanon has a large number of universities relative to its population of about 4 million, not all of these universities are accredited by the United States and European accreditation institutions.

 "Some of the older universities were accredited by the United States and European accreditation institutions prior to the civil war," said university professor Ali Makarem. "However, most lost their accreditation as the quality deteriorated during and after the civil war, and most continue to struggle to improve standards and to re-establish their former accreditation standings."

Some universities such as Haigazian University are currently seeking accreditation. According to Haigazian University's Web site, accreditation facilitates a smoother transition for Haigazian students seeking to further their education in the United States.

The term "accreditation" is often misleadingly used, with many believing that it accompanies the Education Ministry's certification of an academic institution.

In fact, when a university is referred to as "accredited," it means all the credits or courses earned at that university are pre-approved to be transferred to international universities.

Degree accreditation however, varies from one country to another.

A Webster's dictionary definition for accreditation says it is "the act of granting credit or recognition especially with respect to educational institutions that maintain suitable standards." Another word for accreditation is certification, according to the dictionary.

According to accreditation.com, there are only eight universities and colleges in Lebanon that are fully accredited by the International University Accrediting Association: the American University of Beirut, Balamand University, the Beirut Arab University, the Lebanese American University, the Lebanese University Beirut, Notre Dame University, Saint Joseph University Beirut and the University of the Holy Ghost.

A recent instance of accreditation was when the Middle States Commission on Higher Education accorded the much-sought after status to AUB on June 25, 2004 after an extensive institutional self-study.

AUB has been registered with and recognized by the Department of Education of New York State since 1863. With the granting of Middle States' accreditation, however, AUB joins the American University of Cairo, Egypt, and the American University of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, as one of only three universities in the Middle East accredited by regional accreditation bodies in the U.S.

Najwa Damaj, vice president for the administration of finance at the Hariri Canadian Academy, said that although the Hariri Canadian Academy was not yet accredited by higher educational councils in Europe or the United States, the academy was fully acknowledged by the Education and Higher Education Ministry as an equally valid and recognized academic institution.

Article Source: http://www.dailystar.com.lb

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