If a college or university is not accredited, does this mean that it is a Diploma Mill?
No, not necessarily. A diploma mill is special designation given to a company that awards unaccredited degrees and provides either an inferior education or no education at all.
Admittedly, 300 unaccredited colleges and universities in the world were found to be Diploma Mills, therefore red flags must go up when an institution is unaccredited. Yet, it is possible for a legitimate institution to be unaccredited, and yet not be a Diploma Mill.
Here are seven (7) reasons why a legitimate tertiary or post-secondary institution might not be accredited.
1) Voluntary - Whereas registration is a legal requirement with financial implications for defaulting, accreditation is voluntary with no penalty for defaulting in some countries. Admittedly, in the US unaccredited institutions are not eligible for federal or state financial assistance.
2) Value System - An organization might not feel that it is in the best interest of its stated goals and objectives to be regulated and controlled by an outside agency which does not share the same values. Some religious institutions fall into this category.
3) Cost - Accreditation incurs additional costs-the cost of preparing for the accreditation and the cost of conducting the accreditation. An organization in an attempt to offer affordable education to its students might deem the additional costs unnecessary.
4) Stage of Accreditation - Accreditation takes usually about two years from start to completion; an organization might be new or in the initial stages of the accreditation process and therefore might not have earned the status of an accredited institution.
5) Poor Advertising - It is possible that little or no effort was made to convince the management of the organization of the benefits of accreditation to the institution, the students and the public.
6) Record of Excellence - The organization might be in operation for several decades with a well-established and recognized record of excellence, and therefore feels no pressure to be accredited.
7) Authoritative Body - Permission to operate might have been given by an authoritative body like an act of Parliament or Presidential decree and so accreditation is not part of the culture of the organization or country.
So the next time you observe that an institution is not accredited, do not write it off as a Diploma Mill or conclude that it does not offer quality education. Make the necessary checks