Certification and accreditation are often used interchangeably. Although they belong to the same category but there is distinction between the two and they are not synonyms. There is always a confusion to define accreditation and certification.
Certification is used for verifying. It is a third party attestation related to products, processes, systems or persons. In case of personnel, it verifies that personnel have adequate credentials to practice certain discipline. In case of products, it verifies that products meet certain requirement. In a company’s context, certification is a prose through which a company gets registered or approved to standards like ISO and others. The process is carried out by a Certification Body that is eligible to provide certification to others.
Certification is a process that publicly attests that a specified criterion of quality or standard has been achieved or it has exceeded. These days everything is being certified. Certification gives an assurance to the on lookers that the product, service, personnel, process and other things have been inspected through quality standard and they have been approved for meeting the minimum standards.
There are many certification bodies working around the globe. The most renowned and primary body is ISO. ISO certification and standards are world famous and almost everyone seeks to get certified by ISO. A lot of diverse standards have been developed by ISO which covers almost every field. Certification is not just granted to institutes or bodies but to individuals as well.
Accreditation is a voluntary process that is initiated on its own by institutes, agencies, and educational programs. An accreditation body assesses the overall process and practices of the institutes to see if they meet standard and criteria set by the body. It starts with a rigorous self evaluation of the processes by the institute itself. Then there is an objective appraisal that is conducted by the certified bodies. The intention of accreditation is to emphasize on the fact that quality standards are being met and the practices are at par with global standards. It is a commitment to continuously enhance the quality of service being provided.
Due to the growing importance of accreditation, a lot accrediting bodies are working around the globe. Major accrediting bodies include names like CHEA, DETC, IAO and others. Accreditation is achieved through a sequential procedure known as accreditation process. Different bodies adopt procedures that slightly vary from one another but the basic objective remains the same.
Institutional accreditation provides manifold benefits to different stakeholders including students, faculty, management and the public on the whole. It lends enhanced credibility to the institutes and the courses being offered there. It helps to make it the preferred choice of students as they view it as credible.