Back to C12061
Version 1.1 Produced 2011-12-15
Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs) and professional accreditation of undergraduate programmes
This is a statement from HEBRG (Higher Education Better Regulation Group).
- The decision that the KIS should include information about accreditation by professional, statutory and regulatory bodies reflects the interests of students, as identified in the original research published by HEFCE, in having information about the professional bodies that recognise the course and hence about how the course might improve their employment prospects. However it is recognised that PSRB is an umbrella term for a very diverse group of organisations, including professional bodies, regulators and those with statutory authority over a profession or group of professionals. One of the roles of a PSRB may be to accredit programmes of higher education, either directly or through institutional accreditation.
- 'Accreditation' is used in this context as a mark of assurance that the programme (or in some cases the institution as a whole) meets the standards set by the accrediting body. The outcome of a successful programme accreditation by a PSRB may include one or more of the following:
- graduates are able to practise as a professional in a specific field, and in some cases receive a license to practise that is required by law;
- graduates are granted chartered status;
- graduates are granted exemption from all or part of professional exams;
- graduates are eligible for entry to membership of a professional association or learned society;
- the programme is confirmed as meeting externally designated standards and quality.
- There are many types of accreditation and processes vary widely, but they normally involve:
- external peer review;
- a definitive yes/no decision at the end of the accreditation process;
- a time delimited period of accreditation, with further review by the end of the accreditation period;
- regular monitoring of student performance.
- Accreditation of programmes may be essential and required by law if the graduate is to be permitted to practice in their chosen profession, or it may more generally be considered a worthwhile exercise by the higher education provider in ensuring that the course meets professional needs and will improve the employment prospects of students. Whatever the aim of the accreditation, the PSRB should be committed to ensuring that its processes are not unduly burdensome and that they align with other sector-specific regulatory processes where they exist. Bodies are expected to adhere to the Principles of Better Regulation for Higher Education developed by the Higher Education Better Regulation Group (HEBRG).
- Organisations that undertake accreditation of HE programmes and are identified through a KIS will be asked to provide relevant information on their own websites explaining in general terms the purposes of accreditation of higher educational programmes and the potential benefits to students.
- The PSRBs currently recognised as eligible for inclusion in the KIS are listed in the List of accrediting bodies
- There may also be other organisations, for example employers' representatives, not normally referred to as PSRBs and not involved in professional education; nevertheless they may undertake scrutiny of programmes with reference to industrial content or higher skills development that institutions would find valuable in informing prospective students and therefore wish to record in the KIS.
- Such an organisation may be considered for acceptance onto the list of bodies eligible for inclusion in the KIS if it undertakes accreditation of higher education programmes that:
- results in all or most of the outcomes listed in paragraph 2;
- involves at least some of the processes listed in paragraph 3.
- Where institutions believe other bodies should be added to the list of PSRBs they should contact email@example.com in the first instance.
Procedure for updating the field list of accrediting bodies
HEPISG, the Higher Education Public Information Steering Group, has ultimate responsibility for information contained within and developed for KIS. While certain functions associated with professional accreditation are devolved to HEFCE, HESA, QAA and HEBRG (the Panel, see below), HEPISG's decisions are final over inclusion to the list of accrediting bodies.
The list of accrediting bodies is continually evolving and changing in response to new knowledge, regulation or regulatory changes, and the needs of students, employers and wider society: this procedure is designed to deal with that. The list should be seen as a living document.
There are two broad categories of changes to the list of accrediting bodies:
1. Relatively straightforward cases
An example here would be an existing body that wishes to transfer its accreditation function to another body. The strength and rigour of its accreditation process is unchanged; this could also reflect a change in name or merger between accrediting bodies.
A change should be notified by an institution to firstname.lastname@example.org who would confirm the change and its timing with the organisation and make arrangements for the change to be implemented.
2. Additions to the list
An institution should inform email@example.com if it has an accreditation arrangement with an organisation which is not included on the list included in the KIS documentation. HESA will then contact the organisation to initiate the process of adding them to the list.
There is no further opportunity to update the list for 2012.
Process (from C13061)
Organisations needing to be considered for addition to the list will be required to set out, against each of the criteria outlined in paragraph eight above (in a report of less than 2000 words) how they meet the criteria. The deadline for consideration for inclusion in the KIS published in September of any year will be 1 December of the previous year.
Representatives from HEFCE, QAA, HEBRG and HESA (the Panel) will meet in January each year to consider additions to the list and HESA will communicate decisions by the end of January.
Where organisations are not accepted for inclusion in the list they will have a right to appeal. Reasons for appealing should be put in writing, within one month of their initial panel decision in less than 1000 words. The case will then be considered by HEPISG, which will decide whether there are any grounds for accepting the appeal, and advise on next steps. Final decisions will be made before the end of March each year.
If HEPISG rejects the bid then applicants will not be able to submit a further case for inclusion until there has been a substantial or material change to the organisation's process. This is designed to ensure there are not multiple and repeated attempts to gain inclusion on the list, where the case made is poor, because continually entertaining these requests may mean that other organisations, with valid claims, may be disadvantaged.
HESA will manage this process and convene meetings of the panel. HEFCE will be responsible for liaison/communication with HEPISG.
This process will be evaluated in 2015 when HEPISG will consider its fitness for purpose and if improvements could be made, such as updating HEBRG's investigation into professional, statutory and regulatory bodies (PSRBs); burden and alignment with wider QA infrastructure; future development and integration with wider academic infrastructure; and wider public information developments.
Ad hoc enhancements to the process will be made as need arises.
Contact Institutional Liaison: firstname.lastname@example.org
, tel 01242 211144