Accreditation: WIT Experience
Accreditation: WIT Experience
Dr. NORA P. LEGASPI
Center for Academic Accreditation
What is Accreditation?
Academic Excellence is a level of performance by a school or program, as evaluated based on its Vision-Mission, Goals and Objectives. If evaluation is conducted by the elements of a school, students, academic and non-academic personnel, it is called internal evaluation. If the school voluntarily submits to an external agency, it is termed Accreditation. The invited accrediting body reviews and affirms the school’s claim for excellence.
Using a standardized tool for evaluation, the school is surveyed on ten areas: Philosophy and Objectives, Faculty, Instruction, Library, Research, Laboratories, Student Services, Social Orientation and Community Involvement, Physical Plant, and Organization & Administration. A self-survey by the school is first conducted, and an accreditation visit is held to validate the school’s ratings of itself.
Why go for accreditation?
Accreditation is one of the legal mandates of the Commission on Higher Education as required by the Constitution to provide quality education. Today, accreditation is no longer a matter of choice; it is a necessity.
Some of the advantages of accreditation are the following:
- Status of Excellence. A school may claim “excellence”, however, it is without bearing unless an outsider affirms
- Competitive advantage and institutional marketing. No school can nowadays claim “exclusive advantage”. Education has become too competitive, and the number of enrollees defines the school’s sustainability.
- Institutional linkages. To be accredited means becoming a member school of the accrediting agency. As such, the school shares with the best practices of other member schools. It establishes linkage with them for continuing development.
- Placement of Graduates. The industry determines the quality of the applicant by the level of accreditation of the school where the applicant is a product. Employment after graduation is highly competitive, and only the best qualified survives.
- Government grants and privileges. A level of accreditation qualifies the institution to avail of privileges that only an accredited school enjoys. Examples are administrative autonomy, personnel scholarship grants and subsidies for development.
Cognizant of the importance of accreditation, Western Institute of Technology submitted herself to an external agency, the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities-Commission on Accreditation, in 2012. A team of accreditors came for a consultancy visit to assess the readiness of the school for accreditation. Consequently, a list of recommendations was given to the school to comply with, before the school can apply for a Candidate status. These recommendations included the following:
- Widening and refurbishing of the library
- Increase of library collection to at least 5,000 titles, copyrighted for the last 10 years
- Repair of comfort rooms
- Repainting of buildings
- Refurbishing of the classrooms
- Provision of fire exits
Within two years, these recommendations were accomplished to the satisfaction of PACUCOA. WIT was granted the request for a preliminary visit for the six programs which qualified: AB English, BSHRM, abd BSCompE for the first batch, and BS Biology, BSBA and BSME for the second batch. In 2014 and 2015 respectively, these programs were approved of their Candidacy Status.
After accomplishing the Team Recommendations, the Formal Visit was done in November 2017 for the first three programs. The Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines (FAAP) approved the recommendation of PACUCOA and granted the Level 1 status to AB English, BSHRM and BSCompE programs effective December 2017. In July 2018, the second batch of programs shall have the Formal Visit and hopefully, these three programs shall also earn a Level I accreditation status.
Strengths and stumbling blocks
Seemingly, it was easy for Western Institute of Technology to earn a Level I status in just five years. It was not however the way it was as it appeared. Those directly involved in the tasks committed their intelligence, time and effort, without counting the costs, may it be psychologically, physically and financially.
Psychologically, it was not easy to motivate the concerned elements of the school system to embark on the gargantuan tasks of accreditation. This is not however, surprising. Other schools started with the same psychological state. The demanding tasks of gathering data to support assessment, preparing reports of accomplishment and exhibiting them during the accreditation visits, to meet deadlines, were new to the school system. There were negative attitudes, including resistance to support, which were observed. Initially, they could not see the impact of accreditation to their status as employee and as students. It took some effort to conduct school – wide orientations with the students, faculty and even non-academic personnel to make them see the values of accreditation.
Physically, the work of accreditation is very stressful. Those directly involved had to work overtime to meet the deadlines. Such could have been avoided by an efficient use and management of time. Indeed this is an aspect of the school culture that needs to be modified. The failure of the school to meet deadlines, prompted the Center for Academic Accreditation to avail of the grace period of one year. Since PACUCOA is an agency which is very developmental, Western Institute of Technology has always been extended the understanding and support. PACUCOA sees that the determination and commitment of the school Administration led by its President, Engr. Richard S. Salas, cannot be underestimated.
Financially, the school spent a great amount of money in the pursuit of accreditation. The school desires quality education, and the students and their parents are just too willing to shoulder the costs. Quality education can only be provided by the school as much as it can afford. WIT is one of the few low cost schools, in terms of tuition. Its mission to provide quality education to the marginal sector of the society, most of them coming from the rural areas, can be traced back to its founders.
Lessons from accreditation
Accreditation is here to stay. Western Institute of Technology may have just started the effort, but it is never too late and it is not too difficult to maintain the momentum. The school had for a long time maintained prestige as one of the best schools in Engineering programs. But the industry has become too competitive. Accreditation has opened doors for the school to innovate, to reshape, to re-evaluate, and to be more progressive. More than anybody else, it is the school: its leaders, workers and students, who know what the school aims at, and how the school will achieve them.