The information below provides a brief overview of the process used by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA) for reviewing a foreign country’s standards for accreditation of its medical schools.
Step 1: Submission of Information
When a country contacts the U.S. Department of Education (Department) and asks to have its accreditation standards reviewed, the Department works with the country to provide a user id and password for its e-Recognition system. The Department requests that the country submit answers to the questions found in the NCFMEA Guidelines regarding the country’s accreditation standards and processes and their effective application. Countries must also provide supporting documents (e.g., copies of statute and regulations, standards, examples of site visits, etc.) in English. All submissions must be in English.
Step 2: Staff Analysis
A Department staff member is assigned to review the information and documents. If the submission is insufficient, the Department requests additional information and/or documents. The staff member then prepares an analysis, based on the documentation provided by the country, of the comparability of the country’s standards to those used in the United States for accrediting medical schools. A copy of the staff analysis is sent to the country for review and comment.
Step 3: Advance Materials to NCFMEA Members
Approximately two weeks before the NCFMEA meeting, the Department transmits copies of the staff analysis, supporting documentation, and the country’s response to the staff analysis (if any) to the NCFMEA members for their review prior to their meeting.
Step 4: NCFMEA Meeting — Public Session
For each country on the meeting agenda, a Department staff member presents an overview of the analysis of the country’s accreditation standards and processes to the Committee members and answers any questions Committee members might have. After the staff presentation, any official representatives of the country are given the opportunity to present information and answer any questions posed by Committee members.
Step 5: NCFMEA Meeting — Executive Session
After the presentations by Department staff and country representatives (if any), the Committee goes into executive session, which is open to official representative(s) of the country but is closed to members of the public. During this executive session, the Committee discusses the country’s accreditation standards and procedures and then makes a determination as to whether the country’s system for accrediting medical schools is comparable to the system used in the United States.
Step 6: Secretary’s Letters regarding NCFMEA Decisions
The decisions reached by the NCFMEA at its meeting are kept confidential until the U.S. Secretary of Education reviews the decisions and issues official notification to the countries. After the Secretary letters are faxed and mailed to the countries, and the U.S. Department of State is advised of the NCFMEA decisions, those decisions are made available to the public.
Step 7: Implementation of Decisions
An accredited medical school in a country determined to have comparable standards may apply to the Department to participate in Direct Loans. The institution’s application and supporting documentation (such as proof of accreditation, financial statements, etc.) are reviewed by the Department’s Foreign Schools Team to determine whether the institution meets the regulatory requirements to participate in Direct Loans. If the institution does meet the requirements, it must sign a Program Participation Agreement with the Department. After that agreement is executed, American students who attend that medical school may apply to receive loans under the Direct Loan Program.