Accreditation vs Affiliation Everything to Know About

Accreditation vs Affiliation: Everything to Know About

To many of us, the terms accreditation and affiliation seem quite similar. We often these as synonyms. However, in reality, accreditation is completely different from the other (affiliation meaning).

Both these terms are related to the functioning and relationships between organizations. However, there are still many differences and dimensions that many of us are unaware of. We are making an attempt to simplify all this information. Do read this entire article Accreditation vs Affiliation to know the exact differences and similarities between affiliation and accreditation.  

The Origin of Accreditation

As per a report published by the UNESCO Digital Library, accreditation agencies were initially established in the U.S.A. in the beginning of the 20th century. In the beginning, the role of these agencies was limited to admitting students and transferring between institutions. Later, with the increasing role of the Federal government, their role changed drastically.  

The greatest challenge with agencies (like Cognia and Northwest Accreditation Commission etc.) was to align the defined processes as per the paradigm of online schools and universities.

Affiliation Meaning and Origin 

The dictionary meaning of the word affiliation is the state of being closely associated with a group, person, company, etc. This term was initially used in the year 1791. In India, our government explains this term in the context of academic institutions in its document called Annexure 2 (under the UGC Act 1956 -header Concepts and Definitions). The 2nd point in this document states that ‘Affiliated’ institutions are the ones that run a degree program. However, they are not empowered to issue a degree completely on their own. In such cases, these institutions can attach themselves to another university/university-level institution to award degrees. 

What is Accreditation?

We know that the accreditation process was initiated in the U.S.S. According to the Ministry of Education, U.S.A. accreditation is a voluntary process. Through this process, an institute is reviewed thoroughly by a valid accrediting agency. And once an institution is accredited it is believed to have the required minimum standards of quality and operational efficiency. All in all, the goal of this process is to oversee whether an institution meets the desired quality standards or not. In the U.S. education system, this process is not carried out directly by the government. In fact, there is a procedure that an agency undergoes in order to be a valid ‘accrediting agency’ (state approval agency) to perform this process.

The list of valid accrediting agencies (Nationally recognized) is available on this page.  

What are the Types of Accreditation?

In general, there are two different categories/types defined by the U.S. Ministry of Education.

  1. Institutional–  This means that an entire institution is accredited by a valid agency. Hence, all the courses and programs offered by such an institution are valid.
  2. Specialized (Programmatic)– Under this type only specific programs/departments/schools/parts of an institution are accredited.

Today, this concept of quality assurance is also popular in India. The recent National Education Policy in India (NPE 2020) has acknowledged and reiterated the importance of the accreditation process.

Let’s move on to our next section now.

What is Affiliation?

In the initial section, we discussed the meaning of affiliation. Let’s delve into it further. When an institution affiliates itself with the other, it is not a permanent status. Apparently in India, we can understand this term better as collaboration with another institution for a specific purpose. This collaboration can be to provide a diploma/degree. And it can also be to enhance the level of education imparted by a particular institution.

The institution that affiliates itself with others also has some say in terms of policies, offerings, features, or anything related to the course/program. Similar to the Northwest Accreditation Commission or Cognia the affiliating institution/body also has a process that the institution must undergo in order to affiliate itself successfully. These processes/documentation etc. are subject to the policies and vary from one institution to the other.

Types of Affiliation

Broadly, our Indian government defines the categories as ‘Affiliated’, and Stand-alone (require recognition from other statuary bodies).

As of 2021, India had the following number of higher educational institutions.

UniversitiesStand-alone institutionsColleges

In general, an affiliated college does not enjoy 100% autonomy.  

Indian higher educational institutions | Accreditation vs Affiliation

Accreditation vs Affiliation: Difference and Similarities Between

Differences* To make use of collaboration for purposes like awarding degrees

* The institution does not have 100% autonomy

* Not a very close bond/relationship between two institutions/educational bodies

* To seek the support of an accrediting agency for quality purposes

* The institution has more autonomy 

* Close relationship between the agency and the institution to deliver the best results
Similarities* Both aim to improve the teaching and learning processes

* The institution becomes more reputable through both

* The status is shared by institutions with the public (mostly on websites)

How to check Affiliation and Accreditation?

The status of accreditation is often a part of the main content highlighted on any institution’s official website. Check the name of the accrediting agency and validate if it is one of the valid accrediting agencies recognized by the policymakers. For the institutions that are recognized by agencies like Cognia or are NAAC accredited. You can refer to the U.S. Ministry’s official website (Federal Register).

In Indian schools (online schools or traditional) the status of CBSE affiliation is the most common. You can check this through an affiliation number allocated to the school/institution (mentioned on their respective websites). In addition, you can also check the status through this website.

If you wish to check the affiliation for ‘The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations’ you can use this link. Similarly, all national and international boards have their respective portals with the directory containing the names of their affiliated institutions.

Final Thoughts

Both accreditation and affiliation improve the educational experiences and delivery methods. Presently the paradigm of online schools has introduced the advantage of international accrediting agencies like the ‘Northwest Accreditation Commission. Hope this article Accreditation vs Affiliation helps you know the differences and functions of these two well now.

Thanks for Reading!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Explain the meaning of being NAAC accredited?
    The full form of NAAC is ‘National Assessment and Accreditation Council’. It was established under the University Grants Commission in the year 1956 (section 12). This autonomous institution evaluates the performance of an institution as per the criterion defined.
  • How long does a NAAC-accredited institution stay accredited?
    The accreditation granted by NAAC is for 5 years.
  • Do we have a Cognia-accredited and recognized school in India?
    K8 School is Cognia accredited and recognized in India. Visit this page for more Cognia Accredited

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