The Cambodian government in 2003 established a legal mechanism called the Accreditation Committee of Cambodia (ACC) under Royal Decree NS/RKT/0303/129 on the “Accreditation of Higher Education”.
The ACC is a professional organisation that provides accreditation to higher education institutions in Cambodia and is recognised internationally.
This article will present an overview of the ACC and outline its achievements to provide insight into the important role this essential agency plays in strengthening the quality of higher education in the Kingdom.
It will also outline the “ACC Roadmap and Strategic Plan 2020-2030”, which guides the overall activities to be implemented and provides directions and clear strategies to strengthen the quality assurance system of higher education in Cambodia.
The ACC is responsible for assessing quality and providing accreditation to higher education institutions (HEIs) in Cambodia. The committee was established with the aim of improving the quality of higher education based on national, regional and international standards.
In accordance with Royal Decree NS/RKT/0303/129 dated March 31, 2003 on the “Accreditation on Higher Education”, the ACC has a number of important roles and duties including:
• Developing policies and regulations on accreditation to assure the quality of education for all higher educational institutions (HEIs) in Cambodia.
• Determining the level of accreditation for HEIs;
• Endorsing the foundation year (Year 1) programme of HEIs;
• Recording all the assessment documents, academic programmes and quality assurance activities of each HEI;
• Conducting site visits and assessing HEIs based on the “Cambodian National Standards for Accreditation” and other relevant documents;
• Communicating with national and international organisations relevant to quality assurance and accreditation;
• Ensuring stakeholder involvement in the implementation of quality assurance;
• Publicly disseminating the results of HEI accreditation.
In order to assure and advance the academic quality of all HEIs in Cambodia, the ACC has established the “Minimum Standards for Accreditation of Higher Educational Institutions”, which is a legal instrument for assessment.
The Minimum Standards have been designed for the following purposes:
• Certifying that the education quality of a HEI is suitable at all levels, and providing helpful information to students, parents and donors for making decisions on the selection of an institution for studies and support;
• Providing information to employers for decisions on the recruitment of employees to work at their company or organisation;
• Making recommendations to HEIs for making improvements in quality, and to the relevant ministries/agencies and government for preparing policies and reforms to the higher education system to improve quality.
In 2013, the ACC was integrated into the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, and the Minimum Standards and Indicators were reviewed and revised, with the new standards called “the National Standards for Institutional Accreditation”, which consist of:
• Vision, mission and goals;
• Governance and management;
• Academic staff;
• Academic programmes;
• Student services;
• Learning resources;
• Physical resources;
• Financial resources;
• Internal quality assurance.
The processes and procedures of accreditation consist of the following phases:
• Phase 1: Reviewing self-assessment reports based on the rubrics for evaluating self-assessment reports;
• Phase 2: Conducting pre-assessment of HEIs with a view to assessing the level of their readiness in terms of the quality assurance of the educational provisions;
• Phase 3: Conducting a site visit to the HEI. During the site visit, the team of assessors will collect data and verify evidence through interviews, observations and surveys of the HEIs’ stakeholders. At the end of the site visit, a wrap-up meeting is organised to present the preliminary findings of the assessment to the management team of the assessed HEI in order for them to confirm or ask for clarification of the results;
• Phase 4: The assessment report is sent to the assessed HEIs in order for them to verify the results of the assessment report;
• Phase 5: The assessment reports are submitted to the chairman of the ACC for making a final decision on the provision of the accreditation to HEIs complying with the National Standards.
The ACC has from 2013 accomplished numerous achievements, which include conducting the pilot assessments of 54 HEIs towards piloting the “National Standards for Accreditation of Higher Education Institutions in 2015-2017”.
The committee achieved two major achievements in 2020, in particular, with the “ACC Roadmap and Strategic Plan 2020-2030” and the “Guidelines for Assessors on Institutional Accreditation” being adopted.
The ACC Roadmap and Strategic Plan 2020-2030 adds greater value to the Higher Education Vision 2030 as it requires the ACC to develop a strategic plan to improve the professional skills of ACC staff members and assessors to ensure that the quality assurance processes applied to HEIs are consistent with regional and international standards.
The ACC Roadmap and Strategic Plan 2020-2030 has set clear directions for the ACC to implement and demonstrated significant progress in the quality assurance and accreditation of higher education in Cambodia through an outcome-based assessment to be implemented by 2030.
In order to achieve the vision, mission and goals, five strategies were set out in the ACC Roadmap and Strategic Plan 2020-2030:
• Capacity development;
• Research studies;
• Collaborations for development and innovation.
The ACC is an essential agency that plays an important role in strengthening the quality of higher education in Cambodia. Striving to advance the development of higher education, the committee was established with the aim of improving quality based on national, regional and international standards.