Institution Status, Recognition and Programs of Study
The existence of an academic institution must be verified by checking independent sources. This means that the institution must
be listed in an authoritative source, such as the web site of the ministry of education of the country in question, a contemporary
edition of the International Handbook of Universities or
the Commonwealth Universities Yearbook.
There are many other authoritative publications, and any legitimate institution will be listed in one or more of them.
Non-university institutions are not usually included in the major reference publications and one has to dig a bit
deeper and check information published by the educational authorities of the country in question or in other publications
published by third parties.
Important Rule: A catalog or brochure published by an institution itself can be a useful source for additional information, but
should never be relied upon as the sole source of information about the existence or status of a particular institution.
Status of an Institution
Every country has laws and regulations that govern the establishment, recognition and status of academic institutions
within its jurisdiction. It is essential that credential institutions are generally recognized. The status and recognition
of private institutions can vary depending on the country:
- Private schools can operate but not call themselves "university" (e.g. India).
- Private universities may be allowed to operate but without the authority to award recognized degrees (e.g. France).
- Institutions and programs are not recognized in the country where they are physically located but they are accredited in a third country (e.g. American University of Paris).
- Specific programs and degrees are recognized but the institutions themselves are not recognized (e.g. Mexico).
- Newly recognized institutions may have issued credentials before they were recognized (former communist countries in Eastern & Central Europe).
The number of online and distance university programs has increased in the past decade and thousands of students worldwide are
enrolled in such programs. Because the Internet is unregulated, anyone can set up and market courses, programs and even entire
online institutions. It is absolutely critical to track down and establish the status of online or distance education providers
in their country of origin.
Programs of Study
It is important to establish whether a given course of study is offered at a particular institution. Programs of study can
also change as institutions update old programs or add new ones. Programs can be checked in the major publications, such as
the International Handbook of Universities or the Commonwealth Universities Yearbook. Many institutions maintain comprehensive
web sites that list and describe the programs they offer.
The facts on document policies
Document authenticity and verification
Countries that issue university documents in English
Detecting fraudulent documents and degree/diploma mills