Comparative Analysis: Mexico

Comparative Analysis

Acreditadora Nacional de Programas de Arquitectura y Disciplinas del Espacio Habitable

What are the mission statement, goals, and objectives of your accreditation agency? Please share a short statement of how objectivity and integrity are assured in your accreditation system.


“The fundamental objective of accreditation in Mexico is to acknowledge the quality of the program and propitiate its enhancement” . In accordance to what this official organism for higher education in Mexico states, the objectives of the accreditation of an academic programs of architectural education in Mexico are, among others, the following: 

  • Publicly acknowledge the quality of the institutions’ academic programs and encourage its enhancement.
  • Foster in these institutions, through its academic programs, a life-long culture of improvement.
  • Propitiate the academic programs performance in compliance with local and international quality criteria and parameters.
  • Propitiate the communication and interaction among the sectors of society in search of an education of the highest quality and social pertinence.
  • Promote significant changes in the institutions as well as in the architectural education system in accordance with social current and future needs.
  • Foster the compliance of institutional mission statements and objectives and their academic entities.
  • Provide society with information regarding the quality of the architectural education programs.
  • Contribute in such a way that the accredited programs have sufficient resources as well as suitable mechanisms to assure the accomplishment of their purposes.

How do you achieve effectiveness in accreditation without unduly burdening the institution under review (issues of costs, time, and complexity)?

The process of evaluation for accreditation in higher education in Mexico is a rather new official policy that begins at the end of the 20th century. The general guidelines are defined by COPAES in 12 different criteria / chapters. The specific content of each is specified by each accreditation board. The effectiveness of ANPADEH’s accreditation process is achieved by:

  1. Signature of ANPADEH’s Code of Ethics is required by all participants in each visit.
  2. Special funding as an official policy to convince all universities to participate includes different types of incentives be used by the programs to be accredited
  3. Allowing the accredited programs to publicly inform their communities and society at large of their achievements when accredited.
  4. Divulging all pertinent information regarding the accreditation process, criteria, timetables, against which they will be assessed, by way of web page, and distribution of a Guide to Performance Criteria to all programs.
  5. Promoting induction workshops held at any institution who solicits it
  6. Promoting a yearly workshop to support the self-study process held at ANPADEH’s headquarters.
  7. Maintaining one general calendar for all processes, from November thru June.
  8. Maintaining identical program and duration for each visit, Sunday thru Wednesday, for all visits, indistinct of the cycle
  9. Negotiating final Visit Agendas between the visiting team coordinator and the director of the program within the four-day limit.
  10. Celebrating a yearly Reflection and Analysis Encounter (August) for all visiting team members who participated in said year, invited by ANPADEH as a means of an exchange of experiences and training.

How do you respect diversity of culture and mission of institutions under review while maintaining minimum standards for the profession?

All architecture programs in Mexico are required to demonstrate compliance of the 12 general criteria established by COPAES; faculty, curriculum, students, methods and instruments for evaluation learning, institutional services for student learning, infrastructure, research, association, institutional regulation, academic administrative conduction, planning and evaluation process, administrative and financing management. The specific content, the criteria is developed by each board. ANPADEH’s criteria are originally based on UIA’s (International Union of Architects) Architectural Education Charter, ASINEA’s (Asociación de Instituciones de Enseñanza de la Arquitectura-Mexico, Association of institutions and Schools of Architecture) basic criteria for architectural education in Mexico and the recommendations by the Mexican Federation of Colleges of Architecture (professional). Since all architecture programs in Mexico will lead to a Professional Degree and a Cedula (License) , ANPADEH is required to ensure that all accredited programs comply with a basic “indicative curriculum”, five year full time professional education, theory and practice, sufficient to demonstrate the knowledge and abilities and capabilities to practice as architect. Up to now, programs from large and small schools, mature and new programs, public and private institutions, religious or lay oriented, all have been able to demonstrate the quality of the study program. No two study programs are alike.

How does your agency inform itself about the needs of the profession, worldwide developments in the discipline of accreditation, and developments in education?

Needs of the profession; 
In general, ANPADEH has to ensure that it stays current regarding the needs of the profession. To do so, representatives of the FCARM (Federation of Colleges of Architects of Mexico, officially organized practitioners) are active members of ANPADEH’s General Assembly and meet at least twice yearly. After seven years of operating, the president of the General Assembly called for a total evaluation of ANPADEH, calling accredited schools, professional practitioners, evaluators, members of related professions, as well as members of the public to participate in the process. 

Worldwide developments in the discipline of accreditation; 
Representatives of ANPADEH have participated in UNESCO-UIA Education Commission, in the Washington Accord Reunions, in three international Conferences organized by The Center for Quality Assurance in International Education, held in Mexico City, San José , Costa Rica, and Santiago de Chile, as well as supporting Central American architectural educators in five Forums leading to the establishment of the Central American accreditation Board for Architecture and Engineering. In Mexico, our Board organizes every February, since 2005, an “Encounter of Architectural Programs Accredited by ANPADEH”, to exchange experiences, share new education models and be updated in the discipline. 

and developments in education; 
ANPADEH is one of the 27 Accreditation Boards recognized by COPAES, and the only one dedicated to work with the professional education of architecture and similar professions. Every year it has to inform on its work and every five years has to go through a process of renewed recognition. Twice yearly, ANPADEH participates in the educators nationwide ASINEA Assembly.

In addition to the assessment of institutional resources and how they are allocated with respect to the institutional mission, how does your agency assess student performance criteria?

As part of its Requirements for Accreditation, ANPADEH has defined a list of 23 Basic Academic Quality Criteria that Students must demonstrate as a must to be met either at a level of “awareness”, “understanding” or of “ability” for all programs seeking first cycle accreditation or maintaining accreditation in further cycles. 

An important event in the preparation to the accreditation visit, is the assembly of an exposition of student work from all required courses of all semesters of the current school period. Exhibits must include examples of minimum pass, average and high achievement, be of sufficient quantity to ensure that all students are meeting the performance criteria, ANPADEH provides a “technical index card” where specific information on each work is provided, including the objective of the exercise and the opinion of the faculty, to aid the evaluators appreciation of the work exposed.

In the Visiting Team Evaluation Report the criteria is either “met” or “not met” based on the work exhibited at the time of the visit. The Basic Academic Quality Criteria reflect the needs of the profession nationally and internationally and is review yearly.

How are your governance and secretariat functions organized to assure integrity and professionalism in the conduct of their operations?

The organizations that have authority for setting standards and accrediting professional programs of education are officially recognized Boards. In Mexico, accreditation is voluntary, and in the case of architectural education, carried out by the Acreditadora Nacional de Programas de Arquitectura y Disciplinas del Espacio Habitable (ANPADEH), (Mexican Accreditation Board for the Teaching of Architecture), an autonomous non governmental organization recognized officially (October 9, 2002, November 5, 2007) by the Consejo para la Acreditación de la Educación Superior, A. C., COPAES (National Council for the Accreditation of Higher Education- governmental). The reviews must be undertaken every five years 

ANPADEH is an autonomous self supported organization that is structured in three levels; A General Assembly, composed of representatives of academia, practicing architects and open society; ASINEA (60%), FCARM (30%) and the CNIC (National Chamber of the Construction Industry, 10%); A Directive Council and; A Technical Committee. This Committee is composed of 8 academic members and the Executive Director and is in charge of the evaluation process. Each member of this committee coordinates the visiting team along with two other academics from a region different of the school, a practicing architect and one representative from society, both from the same locality. 

The budget for the ANPADEH is met by the service fee charged to the education programs to be evaluated, and reviewed yearly. It requires the approval of COPAES. No one, with the exception of office administrative personnel, receives fee or payment. All, directives and evaluators have all their travel and lodging expenses covered. All evaluators receive a “Diploma of Participation” for each process, duly recognized both by the educators and the practitioners for their personal certification evaluations. At the end of the accreditation, each program evaluates the whole process and its participants. The information is used to better the service.

What are your mechanisms to insure that expertise and experience in the applications of standards, procedures, and values are present in members of visiting teams, commissions, and staff (please supply and organization chart)?

To become one of ANPADEH’S evaluators several conditions have to be met:

  • Be proposed and recommended by an architecture education program (Dean or President)
  • Have a Master or Doctorate degree in architecture or related fields
  • Have at least 15 years experience in the academic field and at least 10 in the program that makes the proposal

To become eligible to be part of the technical committee

  • Must have participated in at least 5 evaluation visits and received excellent performance evaluations
  • Must have participated in at least 4 yearly “Encounters of Reflection and Analysis” for evaluators

The characteristics of the visiting team are established in the ANPADEH’s Accreditation Code. This latter establishes that there will be five official members appointed by the ANPADEH; three belonging to the academic field (who should be included in the ANPADEH’s Evaluators’ Register and acknowledged by the COPAES), and pertaining to a different geographical region different from that of the institution where the Academic Program is being assessed; one member of the local Architectural Professional Organization and one more member representative of the civil society (representative of the Industry or local Construction Mexican Chamber or of the past students’ Association), neither of them shall have a current link with the institution. Once the team has been appointed, its members shall be introduced to the institution that will be assessed; this latter may object the participation of one of the members due to a possible conflict of interests. 

One of the academic representatives designated by the ANPADEH, a member of the Technical Committee, will lead the team; he/she will be responsible for the complete procedure of the visit and will act as the liaison with the ANPADEH’s Technical Committee. 

To avoid conflict of interests among the members of the visiting evaluation team, the following shall be complied: 

  • None of the academic members shall belong to the geographic entity of the institution where the Academic Program is under accreditation process;
  • None of the members shall have any records that suggest prejudice in favor or against the institution,
  • None of the members shall maintain a current liaison with the institution,
  • The local members, the one belonging to the Architectural Professional Organization and the Civil Society representative, will be acknowledged in their community for their professional work, for their proceedings in benefit of the local society and for their good standing.

In order to exercise disagreement to a member of the visiting team, the institution shall show accurate proof of the possible conflict of interests. 

Upon invitation of the ANPADEH, each visiting team will be able to add a local or international observer. 

Integration of the visiting team
The ANPADEH requires that all members and observers participate in an integration and orientation session prior to the visit, at the site of the evaluation, carried out the first day of activities. In this session the team will get to know each other and will review: the Accreditation Process General Framework, the ANPADEH’s Code of Ethics, the complete file of each Academic Program and the preliminary comments made by the Technical Committee. During this first session prior to the visit, the visiting team will clearly understand its function, the work extent and the visit’s nature. 

To this effect, each member of the team will sign a confidentiality and conduct letter in accordance to the ANPADEH’s Code of Ethics before starting the visit’s work. The team chief will attach these documents to the visit’s complete file. The members of the visiting team commit themselves to participate in all the activities of the visit without having any other engagement that distract their participation. It is desirable that the whole team is settled before starting the team’s integration and orientation sessions. 

It is required that the Executive Director of the ANPADEH have experience as an educator and academic administrator, with awareness in international education systems, as well as a professional manager. Staff has appropriate work and experience for the positions they fill. Staff responsibilities are documented for each position and are reviewed annually. 

Antigua academia de San Carlos 

1 Accreditation council for Higher Education, COPAES, p.4, is Mexico’s governmental agency that oversees higher education accreditation boards, The quotation is direct from the General Framework for the accreditation processes of the higher education academic programs, Mexico, 

2 ANPADEH, General Framework For The Accreditation Process Of Architecture Programs, p. 1

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