Registration signifies that providers of post-secondary and tertiary education have the capacity to offer quality education at consistently high-levels. It is a mandatory process for institutions. It involves an external evaluation which seeks to ensure that institutions establish and maintain a documented Quality Management System.
All institutions offering education and training for which the successful completion of secondary schooling or its equivalent is a pre-requisite, and which leads to the award of associate, bachelor's and post graduate degrees, must register. Institutions offering education and training programmes which are not at tertiary level but lead to certificates and diplomas which are offered to secondary school leavers to meet their vocational or continuing education needs must also register. This mandatory registration requirement not only applies to local institutions and providers but also to all foreign or transnational institutions seeking to establish operations in Dominica.
Mandatory registration provides a legal framework for protecting the interest of students, parents and other stakeholders in the tertiary education sector. Institutions that fail to register with NAB are guilty of an offence. In accordance with Act No.13 of 2006 those institutions will be liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) or imprisonment for up to five (5) years or both. Institutions that fail to register will not be able to operate legally.
The Criteria for registration focuses on the evaluation of the institution in seven key areas:
- Legal, policy and regulatory requirements
- Governance and Administration
- Quality Management System
- Resource Management
- Teaching-Learning Process
- Continuous Improvement
A gap analysis of the completed Application for Registration and the evidence submitted is conducted to determine whether the minimum requirements for registration have been met. If the institution has met these minimum requirements, a site evaluation is conducted by an evaluation team comprising trained professionals appointed by NAB to assess the institution's physical operations. The evaluation team prepares a report and recommendation upon which the Board adjudicates. If the board makes a decision to register the institution, NAB issues a certificate of registration to the institution. If requirements have not been met, the institution may be awarded an extension of its candidacy for registration and obtain additional support from NAB Quality Enhancement Officer before re-submitting its application.
Candidacy for registration is the status awarded to an institution that has applied for registration and on the basis of a preliminary paper-based review, has complied with all the requirements for submission.
Provisional registration can be awarded when an institution has met the basic requirements for establishing its operations. It allows the institution a period of one year to undertake improvements while being monitored by NAB When all criteria are met, full registration can be granted. Provisional registration can be extended for a further period of one year by NAB.
An institution can be registered for a period up to three (3) years depending in the strength of its quality management system. Registered institutions must apply to the NAB for re-registration prior to the expiration of their registered status. Institutions that allow their registered status to expire will be in breach of Act No. 16 of 2006 and subject to punishment by the law.
Registered institutions must submit an annual report to the NAB outlining their level of compliance with the criteria for registration. These institutions must comply with all guidelines set out in the conditions of registration and the integrity of their quality management system must be maintained. Additionally, all stakeholders have the right to report to the NAB any issue, which can adversely impact on the quality of the institution's higher education provisions.
The NAB adopts a progressive approach to bringing delinquent registered institutions in compliance with all requirements of registration. A caution letter is the first step in this process. This letter is issued to advise the Institution that is should take steps to correct these deficiencies within a specified time period. The caution letter does not affect the institutions registration status. When a registered institution failed to respond to a concern communicated by the NAB, the institutions registration may be placed on probation until it corrects identified deficiencies. The final step is to revoke the registered status. When the NAB finds that an institution has not taken satisfactory steps to address identified concerns, the institution is mandated to show cause why its registration should not be terminated. When a shoe cause order is used, the burden of proof rest with the institution to provide evidence demonstrating why its registration should be continued. If the institution fails to provide sufficient evidence to justify continues registration the status will be revoked.