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null Inspection Time, Learning Time: on the way towards its second institutional accreditation award


From 22 to 24 March 2022 underwent a full onsite inspection with the British Accreditation Council (BAC) as part of its second institutional accreditation process, after having successfully concluded the first one with the European Agency of Higher Education and Accreditation (EAHEA) in December 2021.

When the team first began to prepare for the inspection in early January 2022, a general feeling of apprehension took hold of many colleagues, and doubtful questions, such as “Will we be at the height of the expectations?” were openly or tacitly articulated. These questions were indicative of the seriousness with which the Academy team, supported by other team members, approached this onsite inspection. Both for the accrediting agency and for our organisation it constituted the first major in-person event in two years, and while the pandemic-induced measures had become less restrictive at the time, it was obvious that the frailty of the situation would have to be considered to protect all people involved in the process.

Moreover, the Academy team promptly realised that a particular working methodology would have to be adopted against the background of limited staff resources and in view of the magnitude of the task with the 26 quality standards (and each of them with five to nine sub-standards) the organisation would be inspected upon. Three aspects related to this realisation can be highlighted as critical: time, coordination and learning. First, the planning of the onsite inspection schedule, in collaboration with the lead inspector, constituted a major element in the process. Three full days had to be time-tabled considering an adequate balance between meetings between the inspector and members of the team, respectively stakeholder groups. We had to arrange virtual meetings with governing board members, a site visit at the Ecumenical Centre to showcase the adequacy of the premises, as well as a sufficient document study time for the inspector.

However, it was not only about rigorous time management for the inspection days. The Academy team was also conscious about time in view of thoroughly preparing the necessary documentation, which had to be partially made available electronically ahead of the inspection and also in print-copy version for scrutiny on the actual days. Time was for the Academy team thus a precious and scarce good: two core staff persons went above and beyond the regular contractual work hours, working over several weeks seven days a week and up to 20 hours per day. These colleagues’ commitment to offer this amount of overtime for the organisational benefit and success cannot be overstated and is a testament to the high level of identification with’s mission and mandate, and the staff’s integrity and work ethic.

Furthermore, the internal coordination of the preparatory work with the other departments was key in view of the logistical arrangements and the support with regard to specific documentation pertaining to the overall organisational structure and management.

Most importantly, however, the inspection offered a unique learning experience to the entire team. The most significant learning emerged from the discovery that the inspection would not be a mere compliance exercise, but an opportunity to verify and improve the praxis of the quality framework. The lead inspector recurrently emphasised that she would not so much scrutinise the existence of a document or structure as its application to the benefit of the user. The Academy team, supported by all colleagues, therefore learned to appreciate the inspection as an opportunity to grow, not the least through the many conversations with the lead inspector on best practices and alternative approaches with regard to learners’ support and record management. is expecting the final decision regarding this second accreditation process in the coming weeks. At this point, the initial apprehension has already faded and the question the Academy team asks itself is: "How can we translate the learning experience into enhanced and enriching conditions for study for our participants?" There could not be a more lasting and profound insight that motivates the team going forward – Inspection time is learning time.

Amélé Adamavi-Aho Ekué
Academic Dean