The people in professional associations who accredit university courses for practise generally do a good job, but when they are idiosyncratic, self-serving or slow it can be hell for teaching institutions. A newly released report for the Commonwealth Government’s Higher Education Standards Panel sets out how the 100 or so bodies that accredit courses are going and what they can do better.
The report, by consultants PhillipsKPA found 100 or so bodies that accredit courses for practise. Other than 14 health professions, they are generally self-regulating committees of professional associations, which can be laws unto themselves, notably those that use accreditation to regulate the workforce; “There is a perception in some professions that accreditation is about controlling numbers who enter the profession rather than societal or economic need,” the report states.
Accrediting committees can also make like hard for providers;
“the aggregate effect of coping with idiosyncratic and excessive or unreasonable demands for information and compliance from some accrediting agencies is significant, expensive and problematic. This is particularly true for smaller institutions and for non-self-accrediting providers with smaller budgets and staff profiles who have the added layer of course accreditation by TEQSA.”
There are also inherent problems with different positions on English language standards, innovation in teaching and learning and state-specific requirements.
The report includes specific reforms that all seem eminently achievable with good-will and working with what institutions can already get from government regulation of institutions; “most providers have noted with approval an increasing trend for accreditation criteria to be aligned with the regulatory requirements of the HESF, TEQSA and the AQF, with a greater focus on outcomes and less prescription of inputs,” PhillipsKPA suggest.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham says he is now waiting on advice from HESP.