Institutional staff perceptions on the impact of accreditation: A study in two Vietnamese vocational training colleges
Governments in many countries worldwide have increasingly focused on accreditation as an important strategy to improve the quality of vocational education and training (VET). In Vietnam, accreditation in vocational training is still in its initial stage of development. The first cycle of accreditation at institutional level was conducted in 2008, and accreditation at programme level was piloted for the first time in 2012. The purpose of this mixed method study was to investigate the actual effects of institutional and programme accreditation from the perspectives of staff members in two Vietnamese vocational training colleges. Sixty staff members in these two institutions participated in the study. A questionnaire combining closed-ended and open-ended questions was administered to all participants. To obtain more in-depth responses about the impact of accreditation, individual interviews were conducted with eight participants. The findings suggest that the staff members overall had a positive perception towards the impact of accreditation regardless of the type of accreditation. The three main perceived benefits of accreditation included the increased awareness amongst staff of QA, its role as a catalyst for institutions’ change and enhancement, and the improvements in managerial practices. However, the study found support for the view that accreditation seemed to have been geared towards accountability rather than improvement. Many staff members observed that accreditation did not lead to a significant increase in teaching and learning quality or the institutions’ reputation. The effects of accreditation were also seen to be temporary rather than long-lasting. In conclusion, the study argues that though accreditation in vocational training in Vietnam has gained some preliminary success, there is still a mismatch between policy and reality. A number of important implications at both national and institutional levels for more effective accreditation are identified.