I first believed that Namibia shouldn’t have any accreditation paradoxes, but regrettably, we do. A paradox is defined as “a situation or statement that looks impossible or difficult to grasp because it involves two contradictory facts or features” by the Cambridge dictionary.
In this opinion, I’ll discuss at least two diametrically opposed, contending difficulties with the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA)’s accreditation procedure.
Unam was accurate, but it is incorrect
Recent media reports about the University of Namibia (Unam) suspending “unaccredited courses” surprised many stakeholders, including prospective students, specialists, and the general public. Many issues were raised, including why they would market unaccredited courses. What happens to the students who have applied for the courses? What will graduates of such programmes do with an unaccredited diploma?
And there are many more questions.
First, consider the contradiction. The Namibia Qualifications Authority was formed by Parliamentary Act No.29 of 1996. Along with the Act, there is the Standard of Accreditation, which is a set of accreditation requirements. According to the regulations, NQA can only accredit courses that are currently in operation. This implies that for an institution to be accredited for a course, it must have been operational for at least a year. Why? You might enquire. It is because, during the accreditation audit visit, the NQA wants to audit how you are teaching the course, how the lecturers are doing and if they are qualified, as well as how you conduct student-lecturer evaluations.
They also want to meet with students to collect information. They want to talk to SRC, professors and they want to see lesson plans for at least six months. Student attendance registers and a variety of other activities.
The irony is that if an institution does not have students enrolled in a new ‘unaccredited’ course, it will not be accredited. At the same time, NQA is required to warn and discourage institutions from recruiting students for unaccredited courses; how will the courses be accredited?
Many institutions, although not all, advertise for students to enrol in unaccredited courses since NQA will require students to complete the accreditation procedure and avoid misleading potential students.
Then there’s the major question: since the NQA Act requires institutions to have students in order to be accredited, what happens to those students if accreditation fails?
Accreditation, by the way, fails not only because of institutional shortcomings, but also because NQA does not have the capacity to accredit certain institutions for a variety of reasons, such as a lack of subject matter experts in certain areas, a lack of resources such as finance to carry out the process, and many others.
Only NQA has the ability to deliver an answer. Unam was not wrong when it solicited recruits.