- What's New
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Decisions of Comparability
- Review Procedures
- Helpful Hints for Countries Applying for Comparability
The purpose of the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA) is to review the standards used by foreign countries to accredit medical schools and determine whether those standards are comparable to standards used to accredit medical schools in the United States. The committee’s function is specified in section 102(a)(2)(B) of the Higher Education Act, as amended.
The NCFMEA does not review or accredit individual foreign medical schools. If you have questions about individual foreign medical schools, please contact the Office of Federal Student Aid’s Foreign Schools Team at email@example.com or (202) 377-3168. The request by a foreign country for review by the NCFMEA is voluntary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is this type of comparability determination important?
It's important to American students who want to attend a foreign medical school and wish to receive federal student loans to help them with educational expenses. If the NCFMEA determines that a foreign country's accreditation standards for medical schools are comparable, then any accredited medical school in that country is eligible to apply to the U.S. Department of Education to participate in the federal student loan program.
Does the NCFMEA accredit foreign medical schools?
No, the NCFMEA does not review or accredit individual foreign medical schools. The NCFMEA only reviews the standards that a foreign country uses to accredit its medical schools.
Does the U.S. Department of Education accredit foreign medical schools?
No, the U.S. Department of Education does not accredit foreign medical schools. Any accredited medical school in a country that has comparable accreditation standards as determined by the NCFMEA may apply to the Department to participate in the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program (Direct Loans). As part of the application, the school must provide documentation that it has been accredited by the entity in the foreign country that has responsibility for such accreditation. Evidence of accreditation is just one of the eligibility criteria that the foreign medical school must meet in order to participate in the Direct Loan Program.
How do I obtain a list of foreign medical schools that are eligible to participate in Direct Loans?
For information on which foreign medical schools are eligible to participate in the Direct Loans, contact the Foreign Schools Team at the U.S. Department of Education. The Team's phone number is (202) 377-3168 and fax number is (202) 275-3486.
Have the regulations concerning foreign medical schools been developed to implement the recommendations made in the NCFMEA’s 2009 Report to Congress and the Secretary of Education?
The final regulations for foreign schools, including foreign medical schools, became effective on July 1, 2011.
Decisions of Comparability
The countries listed below have been reviewed by the NCFMEA and found to use standards to accredit their medical schools that are comparable to the standards used to accredit medical schools in the United States. The date(s) in parentheses is (are) the date(s) of the Committee's decision(s) of comparability.
Antigua – Barbuda (10/13) - Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions
Australia (2/95, 3/01, 9/07, and 9/09) - Australian Medical Council
(Note: The Australian Medical Council also accredits medical schools in New Zealand under the terms of an agreement with that country.)
Canada (2/95, 3/01, and 3/09) - Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools
Cayman Islands (9/02, 9/03, 9/04, and 3/09) - Accreditation Commission on Colleges of Medicine
Czech Republic (3/98, 9/04, and 10/11) - Czech Republic Accreditation Commission
Dominica (10/97, 3/01, and 3/07) - Ministry of Health & Social Security and the Dominica Medical Board
Dominican Republic (10/97, 3/04 and 4/13) - National Council of Higher Education, Science and Technology
Grenada (9/96, 3/03 and 3/07) - Grenada Ministry of Health, Social Security, The Environment, and Ecclesiastical Relations in conjunction with the New York State Department of Education's Office of the Professions
Hungary (3/97, 3/03, and 10/11) - Hungarian Accreditation Committee
Ireland (3/97, 9/03, and 9/09) - Irish Medical Council
Israel (9/99 and 9/08) - Council for Higher Education
Mexico (10/97, 3/04 and 4/14) - Mexican Board for the Accreditation of Medical Education
Netherlands (3/98, 9/07 and 4/14) - Netherlands Flemish Accreditation OrganizationNevis (4/12) - Accreditation Commission on Colleges of Medicine
Pakistan (3/97, 3/03, and 3/09) - Pakistan Medical and Dental Council
Philippines (3/99, 3/04, and 10/11) - Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities
Poland (10/97, 9/03, and 10/11) - Ministry of Health/Accreditation Committee of Polish Universities of Medical Sciences
Saba (3/03 and 9/09) - Accreditation Commission on Colleges of Medicine
St. Maarten (3/98, 3/04, and 10/11) - Accreditation Commission on Colleges of Medicine
Slovak Republic (9/07) Accreditation Commission of the Government of the Slovak Republic
Taiwan (3/02, and 3/09) - Taiwan Medical Accreditation Council
United Kingdom (9/96, 9/01, and 3/09) - General Medical Council
Attached is the latest revision of the NCFMEA Guidelines that the committee approved at its October 2013 meeting.
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.
Helpful Hints for Countries Applying for Comparability
The following tips are based on the most frequently cited issues by Department staff when conducting comparability determination reviews in preparing their submissions for the NCFMEA. They relate to both the policy and procedures contained within the NCFMEA’s Guidelines for Requesting a Comparability Determination and to the review process itself.
Be proactive in communicating with Department staff. Provide them with the requested information in a timely manner. Without it, the review may be postponed until the following meeting or it may otherwise affect the NCFMEA’s decision. Remember that countries are responsible for ensuring that all portions of their submissions are in English. Countries should plan on sufficient time to translate their narrative and any documentation associated with their response from their native language into English.
To better demonstrate how your standards are applied effectively, summarize your evaluation procedures, describe your standards, and provide the reports that your site evaluators create to convey the findings of school evaluations. (NCFMEA Guidelines, Part 2, Section 4. Educational Programs, Subsection 4.7 Design, Implementation and Evaluation)
As early as possible in the comparability determination process, clarify the authorized governmental entity to approve medical school operations and designated accrediting body. Promptly communicate any changes in their contact information to the Department staff. (NCFMEA Guidelines, Part I, Entity Responsible for the Accreditation/Approval of Medical Schools)
Document the visitation of all clinical sites, both in the host country and abroad. Ensure there are sufficient resources available for residents at the clinical sites. (NCFMEA Guidelines, Part 2, Section 3. Administration, Subsection 3.4 Remote Sites)
Final staff reports are available to the public at: http://opeweb.ed.gov/aslweb/ Click on the “Public Documents” button. The reports are filed by committee and meeting date.
Fall 2014 Meeting - September 4, 2014
Spring 2014 Meeting - April 15, 2014
Fall 2013 Meeting - October 30, 2013
Teleconference Meeting - May 8, 2013
Spring 2013 Meeting - April 15-16, 2013
- Federal Register Notice
- Final Staff Report for agencies are available to the public at: http://opeweb.ed.gov/aslweb/
- Final Agenda MS Word (62K) | PDF (197K)
Fall 2012 Meeting - October 30, 2012
- The October 30, 2012 NCFMEA MEETING was cancelled due to the forecast of severe and disruptive weather (Hurricane Sandy). The meeting was rescheduled in Spring 2013.
- Federal Register Notice
Spring 2012 Meeting - April 10, 2012
Fall 2011 Meeting - October 20, 2011
Attached is the report required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act to Congress and the Secretary of Education that contains recommendations concerning institutional eligibility criteria that would permit additional foreign medical schools to participate in the Federal student loan program. The Department relied on the committee’s report during the foreign school negotiated rulemaking sessions that concluded in February 2010. On November 1, 2010, the Department published the final regulations for foreign schools participating in the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program and they may be accessed at http://www2.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/finrule/2010-4/110110a.html.
- Report to the U.S. Congress by the National Committee On Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation Recommending Institutional Eligibility Criteria for Participation by Certain Foreign Medical Schools in the Federal Family Education Loan Program - 2009 MS Word (447K) | PDF (1022K)
The members of the newly re-established NCFMEA include:
- Martin Crane, M.D., Chair
- Radheshyam M. Agrawal, M.D.
- Alice A. Tolbert Coombs, M.D.
- N. Lynn Eckhert, M.D.
- Deborah Powell, M.D.
- Andrea Reid, M.D., M.P.H.
Links to Useful Web Sites
U.S. Department of Education
Additional Web Sites [ Disclaimer]
For More Information
For information on the NCFMEA, please contact:
Carol Griffiths, NCFMEA Executive Director
U.S. Department of Education
1990 K Street, N.W., Room 8073
Washington, DC 20006
Voice: (202) 219-7035
Fax: (202) 502-7874