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EEAA Accreditation

A theological school can choose to be a member of the EEAA, thus participating in the EEAA network but it may also decide to go a step further and have its programmes accredited by the EEAA. The historic mission of the EEAA has been the accreditation of theological education. Accreditation is a process which requires prolonged time for self and external evaluation, during which the total institution’s setting, programme, structures and life are carefully reviewed, an unquestionably worthwhile effort. Having an accredited programme means that the school’s degrees will be recognized by peer institutions worldwide and that the school itself has succeeded in reaching significant quality standards in theological higher education.

EEAA accreditation and higher education in Europe

The EEAA operates in the field of accreditation within the overall context of European higher learning where the progressive enlargement of the European Union has generated a process of profound change and the realization of a common European Higher Education Area (the EHEA). In this process, a major role is being played by the “Bologna Process” which currently unites over 47 European Ministers of Education and numerous educational and governmental agencies around the project of creating a common framework of reference for European tertiary education.

The EEAA Council in recognising the value of the Bologna educational framework and desiring to better contextualise to the European situation, has integrated several of the Bologna tools into its own standards and procedures. At the same time, given that the EEAA is a trans-national, peer-accrediting organization for theological formation that cannot be considered on the par of national ministries of education or of national accrediting agencies, it must be clearly stated that the EEAA does not have the legal authority to accredit academic degrees within the single states of the EU. EEAA nomenclature necessarily transcends national degree and nomenclature structures providing only comparability criteria. It should also be clear that, in view of the fact that degree awarding is the prerogative of each school within the legal framework of their own country, the EEAA does not award degrees but only certifies levels.

EEAA Accreditation of Evangelical Theological Education

While being sensitive to the European Higher Education Area framework and national policies, the EEAA provides specific accreditation services within the framework and values of evangelical theology, emphasising a distinctive set of quality standards not present in the accreditation of secular tertiary education. The EEAA’s accreditation is therefore more than just academic standards, for fitness for purpose in theological education also involves transformation in the areas of spiritual formation and Christian ministry and service. Since quality assurance in theological education must go beyond knowledge acquisition to ensure competency in all of these areas, the standards that need to be met for EEAA accreditation endorse typical values of evangelical leadership training, such as sound doctrine and practice, discipleship, spiritual mentoring, personal growth and practical ministry effectiveness.

Benefits of EEAA Accreditation

Here are some benefits for a theological school undergoing the accrediting process.

  • Accreditation helps to clearly formulate objectives and to evaluate educational programmes within the framework of these objectives to guarantee and improve fitness for purpose.
  • Evangelical accreditation helps to develop quality objectives and criteria for evaluating both academic and spiritual fitness.
  • EEAA’s accreditation process does not contradict, but rather contributes to schools wishing to obtain governmental or ecclesiastical recognition which graduates need for their ministry at home or abroad.
  • Evangelical accreditation sends a positive message to churches concerning the evangelical ethos of a school. It is also an instrument that helps a school preserve its evangelical identity and stability over time, despite leadership turnover.
  • Accreditation helps to establish reliable points of comparison to enhance communication between theological educational institutions.
  • Accreditation helps to foster communication with partner churches, missions and Christian organisations, as well as with churches and organisations abroad. The quality assurance standards and their evaluation form a common vocabulary and frame of reference for mutual understanding and collaboration.
  • Accreditation helps to facilitate the ongoing education of graduates, permitting the church to have a wider span of trained leadership for its various ministries
  • The inclusion of elements of the Bologna Higher Education framework helps schools be prepared for future government review and accreditation opportunities.
  • In a changing European scenario of accreditation, EEAA accreditation can provide stability in times transition.  Schools may consider double accreditation schemes as a guarantee of continuity.

Theological schools that do not pursue accreditation may sacrifice quality and hinder hard-working students from attaining recognised degrees desired by the faith communities they serve.

Complete information on EEAA Accreditation can be found in the EEAA Manual (see Downloads).

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