Planning & Quality Office



Accreditation

The primary purpose of accreditation at USP is to ensure that graduates from specific programmes are professionally qualified and competent. The University also recognises that external accreditation of its programmes by professional bodies is an important component of its quality assurance framework. It also increases employability of graduates and diplomates. During the process of accreditation a programme is assessed against predetermined criteria within certain specified categories (for example, objectives, curriculum content, resourcing, staff profile) with the aim of reaching a conclusion about whether the programme meets minimum standards set by the relevant accrediting body

Definitions

Programme Accreditation

Programme accreditation is a process of officially recognising a programme of study or school in a university dedicated to a particular branch of knowledge, by an accrediting body. Programme accreditation indicates that a programme or school has met specific standards which are governed by quality assurance and quality enhancement

Professional Recognition

Professional recognition is the formal acknowledgement of an individual's professional status and right to practice the profession in accordance with professional standards and subject to professional or regulatory controls. Qualifications and courses offered by Universities can lead to professional recognition by various bodies.

Affiliation

Affiliation is a process where a school or individual joins or becomes a member of an organization (association) by paying a fee for membership benefits

Registration

The recording of professional qualification information relevant to government licensing regulations

Regulated and Non-regulated

Regulated and Non-regulated

Accreditation can either be regulated or non-regulated. Regulation is enforced by government on behalf of the public in occupations where public safety needs to be ensured. Professions such as architecture, nursing, medicine, and psychology are regulated whereas engineering, accountancy and journalism are unregulated. In regulated professions, accreditation authorities are established by state but responsibility for operational procedures is delegated in large part to members of the profession. In unregulated professions, national professional associations themselves may establish an accreditation function as part of their wider professional services and operations. In a profession such as engineering, accreditation involves an evaluation of programmes offered by universities. Such accreditation, unlike accreditation in regulated professions, is at the request of the individual university and is not obligatory. However, graduates of an unregulated profession such as engineering are unlikely to find good professional employment and will after graduation be obliged to undertake further professional studies.

Accreditation and Registration

Accreditation and Registration

Accreditation and Registration are two separate and different processes. Accreditation has two fundamental purposes: to assure the quality of the school or programme and to assist in the improvement of the school or programmes. Registration, however, indicate the institution/individual has met specific standards to operate or work. Registration provides a legislated 'floor'. Accreditation builds on that floor to look for factors that determine quality.

Registration

Accreditation

Mandatory

Voluntary

First form of recognition

Provides international recognition

Indicates that institution/individual has met specific standards to operate/work

Indicates that school/programme has met specific standards which are governed by quality assurance and quality enhancement

Involves a general overview of the institution as a whole

Involves thorough investigation of the school and programmes of study

Provides local recognition of the institution/individual

Provides local and international recognition of the institution/programme of study, and may facilitate transferability of credits

Certificate of Registration issued

Certificate of Accreditation and Quality Mark Certificate issued

Benefits of Accreditation

Accreditation provides programmes conducted by USP with the following benefits:

  • recognition by employers of graduates
  • adherence to a code of ethics
  • independent quality assurance
  • currency of curriculum content and standards
  • a standard for national and international comparison
  • employment mobility for graduates

Managing Accreditation

Managing Accreditation

The accreditation of programmes offered by the USP is conducted by a variety of accrediting bodies such as Charted Accountants Australia, ANZ ICT Accreditation Board (ANZAB) and International Centre for Excellence in Hospitality and Tourism Management (THE-ICE). The University has established certain procedural practices to ensure that all instances of accreditation are recorded, that a schedule of impending accreditations is maintained and that issues identified through accreditation are formally addressed by the University. The University also recognises that reports by accrediting bodies are a valuable source of information about the quality of programmes offered by the University. This information is of interest to external organisations such as Fiji Higher Education Commission (FHEC), Academic Quality Agency for New Zealand Universities (AQANZU). Issues identified during an accreditation are relevant to programme reviews and annual monitoring. For these reasons copies of all reports provided by accreditation bodies and any associated documentation are to be held centrally within the University.

In order to facilitate this process, USP has adopted the following principles:

Principles

USP:

  • Will seek interactive accreditation/recognition of all academic programmes where feasible and possible.
  • Supports the seeking of accreditation of a programme where and whenever such accreditation improves the quality of a programme and/or enhances the employment opportunities of graduates.
  • Requires that all issues identified through accreditation are reported to the appropriate University committee(s).
  • Will maintain a schedule of all impending accreditations.
  • Will maintain a record of all previous accreditations for a period of seven years.
  • Requires that information obtained from accreditations is available for quality assurance purposes in programme reviews and national, regional and international audits.
  • Requires that issues identified through accreditation processes are addressed promptly and systematically.

Accreditation Procedures

The accreditation procedures used by the various professional bodies vary significantly. Some are very formal, involve lengthy site visits and require significant input by several staff members whereas others are less formal and involve limited staff input. Although the University has no control over the actual accreditation process of an individual professional body, the University requires that the following procedures are observed for all programmes being accredited:

  1. The Dean of Faculty will confirm with the PVC (P&Q) during the second semester of all accreditations that will occur during the following academic year.
  2. A schedule of accreditation over the next three years is to be maintained online by the Planning and Quality Office.
  3. Details of all accreditations conducted during the previous seven years will also be maintained by the Planning and Quality Office.

Documentation

Documentation required by accrediting bodies will need to be prepared within the relevant school and the final draft approved by the Dean of Faculty and forwarded through the PVC (P&Q) under the Vice-Chancellor's signature to the accrediting body. This will ensure that senior management is fully aware of all accreditations.

Site Visits

Individual schools will coordinate site visits and meetings with school staff in accordance with the requirements of the accrediting body and in liaison with the Planning and Quality Office. Upon completion of the visit, the members of the accrediting body will meet with the Dean of Faculty and Vice-Chancellor to discuss major issues identified during the visit.

Responses

Upon completion of the accreditation process the accrediting body considers the information that it has collected and produces a report that identifies any issues that need attention by the University in order to satisfy the requirements for accreditation.

The relevant Dean of Faculty is to ensure that a response addressing these issues is forwarded to the accrediting body within 60 days or earlier if specified in the report. The Dean of Faculty is also to ensure that an implementation plan to resolve these is also developed and put into effect by the end of the following semester.

Copies of the report, the faculty's response and the implementation plan are to be forwarded by the Dean of Faculty to the PVC (P&Q), who will refer the documents to Academic Standards and Quality Committee, in order that they are made aware of any University-wide issues identified through the accreditation process. The PVC (P&Q) will also ensure that all documentation relating to any accreditation undertaking is made available for the purpose of quality improvement.

Responsibilities

Responsibilities

In order to facilitate the accreditation process the University has identified the following responsibilities:

Responsibility of Planning and Quality Office

Through the PVC (P&Q), the Planning and Quality Office will contact each Dean of Faculty annually in the second semester in order to obtain details of all accreditations occurring during the following year.

Responsibility of the Dean of Faculty

The Dean of Faculty will oversee the accreditation process, which includes preparation of the accreditation submission, coordination of site visits and the lodging of copies of all correspondence, reports, implementation plans and accreditation certificates with the RMO. Furthermore, the Dean of Faculty will ensure that all submissions for accreditation are signed by the Vice-Chancellor and that a debriefing occurs with the accrediting body and the Vice-Chancellor following a site visit.

Additional documentation such as the response to the report will be signed by the Dean. In order to ensure that USP is fully informed of all accreditations and associated issues the Dean of Faculty will present through the PVC (P&Q) copies of the accreditation report, the response and the implementation plan to Academic and Standards Quality Committee (ASQC).

Budgetary Implications

Accreditation process involves costs such as accreditation body fees and internal costs associated with implementing improvement initiatives to ensure compliance to accreditation body requirements.

The accreditation body fees can include:

  • an upfront fee for processing the submission;
  • site visit;
  • accreditation fees which may vary for different accreditation bodies;
  • annual fees may also be applicable for some accreditation bodies for maintaining accreditation.

It is the responsibility of faculties and schools to liaise with the accreditation bodies regarding the initial and annual fees for maintaining accreditation. Approvals should be undertaken in accordance with the normal University organisation structure and routine management approval practices must apply to any accreditation undertaken.

 



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Page updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Planning & Quality Office
The University of the South Pacific
Laucala Campus, Suva, Fiji
Tel: +679 323 2885
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