What are the implications of Euroacademy’s negative institutional accreditation decision for students and potential students?

What is institutional accreditation?

The aim of institutional accreditation is to evaluate the functioning and management of a higher education institution as a whole, the effectiveness and management of provision of studies as well as research and development activities and the institution’s service to society. A positive accreditation outcome should give assurance that a higher education institution is reliable and the provision of studies and research activities are of high quality as well as sustainable.

In Estonia, a higher education institution has to undergo institutional accreditation at least once in seven years. Due to problems revealed during previous institutional accreditation, Euroacademy was in 2015 accredited for three years (full accreditation result is seven years). Majority of the problems identified three years ago have not been resolved to date.

What will happen after a negative accreditation decision is adopted?

Decision on the next steps will be taken by the Minister of Education and Research. Pursuant to the Private Schools Act, the Minister has two alternatives:

  1. to give to the higher education institution a term of up to two years to eliminate the deficiencies detected in the institutional accreditation and undergo a new institutional accreditation, or
  2. to make a proposal to the Government of the Republic to revoke the right granted to the higher education institution to provide instruction in study programme groups and issue the respective academic degrees and diplomas.

What are the potential implications of these two alternatives on students already enrolled or enrolling at Euroacademy?

  1. If Euroacademy is given a deadline for remedying the shortcomings, then until the deadline set by the Minister (max two years), Euroacademy will have the right to conduct studies in all study programme groups  where this right has been granted (Business and Administration at professional higher education level; Arts at professional higher education level; Languages and Cultures at professional higher education level, Life Sciences at professional higher education level and Master’s studies). All students graduating within this deadline will receive a state recognized diploma. Likewise, Euroacademy is free to admit new students, who should, however, be informed of the fact that Euroacademy will have to undergo institutional accreditation within two years of the Minister’s decision. This institutional accreditation, in worst case scenario, can result in Euroacademy ceasing its operations. Already enrolled students who will not be able to graduate within the deadline, face the same risk. According to Estonian legislation, Euroacademy would then in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Research have to propose corresponding study programmes at other higher education institutions where students could continue their studies. However, the institutions would have a choice whether or not to admit the students (there is no compulsory mechanism) and whether to recognize their prior learning. Language of tuition is another aspect that may be of concern as not all study programmes offered by Euroacademy are taught in English or Russian at other Estonian higher education institutions.
  2. In case the Minister of Education and Research deems it unnecessary to set a deadline for remedial actions, he or she will launch the government procedure of revoking the right to conduct studies in all authorized study programme groups at Euroacademy. Provided that the Government will support the Minister, in practice this would mean that Euroacademy will cease to function as a higher education institution. Of course, the obligation to propose study programmes at other higher education institutions in cooperation with the Ministry would still apply along with the same conditionalities mentioned above.