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The institutional accreditation began in 2003, as a result of a pilot project carried out by the Comisión Nacional de Acreditación de Pregrado (CNAP) as an answer to the request presented at the end of 2002 by the Chilean Ministry of Education, about beginning the development of experimental processes of accreditation in higher education institutions. This pilot project was part of the development of a bill called “National System of Quality Assurance in Higher Education”, known at present as Law of Quality Assurance in Higher Education Nº 20.129.
The goal of the institutional accreditation is to publicly guarantee the extent to which higher education institutions can count on efficient processes for assuring the achievement of their purposes and objectives, and improve the quality of the services that they offer. Also, this goal looks for the promotion of permanent devices of quality self- regulation in the different institutional functions and in the core of the processes that lead to obtaining the expected accomplishments and results.
The accreditation is a voluntary process in which all the autonomous higher education institutions can participate and it considers, as minimal areas of evaluation, Institutional Management and Undergraduate Teaching offered by the institutions. These areas were chosen because they are essential for any higher education institution and they are the most significant ones for the students and their families: How does the institution organize itself for meeting its goals and purposes and how does it manage the teaching and assure its quality? Universidad de Santiago took part in this initiative, on a voluntary basis, in the second part of the pilot project.
Universidad de Santiago obtained six years of accreditation in all compulsory and optional areas: Undergraduate Teaching, Institutional Strategic Management, Research, Graduate Teaching, and Outreach and Community Engagement. The Comisión Nacional de Acreditación (CNA) informed that the University will be accredited until 2014.
This Agency points out that there are only five universities in the country with a complete accreditation process in the areas of Undergraduate Teaching, Institutional Strategic Management, Research, Graduate Teaching, and Outreach and Community Engagement. They are: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, accredited for seven years; Universidad de Chile, for seven years; Universidad de Concepción, for six years; Universidad de Santiago, for six years; and Universidad de La Frontera, for five years.
The CNA said these institutions comply with a national or regional mission, depending on the circumstances, in a frame of excellence and with high levels of complexity in their academic work.
 The National Committee for Undergraduate Accreditation (Comisión Nacional de Acreditación de Pregrado, CNAP), was created in March, 1999 (Supreme Decree Nº 51/1999), within the framework of the activities related to the Quality Assurance component of the Program for Improving the Quality and Equity in Higher Education (Aseguramiento de la Calidad del Programa de Mejoramiento de la Calidad y la Equidad de la Educación Superior, MECESUP), managed by the Ministry of Education and with the support of the World Bank. Its functions are to lead experimental processes of accreditation for programs and institutions, and to design and propose the national system for quality assurance in higher education.
 The Law 20.129 formally constitutes a new National Committee for Accreditation (CNA- Chile) that is in charge of: institutional accreditation of universities, professional institutes and autonomous centers of technical education; authorizing accrediting agencies to evaluate undergraduate programs and careers, master’s programs and programs with specialty in the field of health; accrediting programs that do not have accrediting agencies for their area, and keeping public information systems regarding the decisions of the Committee, among other functions.