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Unistats record 2017/18 - Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs) and professional accreditation of undergraduate programmes

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Unistats record 2017/18 - Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs) and professional accreditation of undergraduate programmes

Version 1.0 Produced 2017-04-06

Accreditation in Unistats

The definition of accreditation used in Unistats is a broad one, encompassing accreditation, recognition and endorsement. The common factor is that all courses which are described as accredited on Unistats should confer some additional benefit to the student. Example of this are chartered status, exemption from exams or completion of a course which is recognised as preparing them for employment in a particular sector. See the criteria that an accreditation must meet to be included on Unistats.

Accreditations which can be selected for use on Unistats are held within the accreditation information table. This includes a list of accrediting bodies and their accreditations. Some bodies have multiple accreditations available and each has a unique code which is used in the Unistats data return.

The statement describing the accreditation which appears in the accreditation table is displayed on the course record on Unistats. This explains the benefit of the accreditation to prospective students and also includes a link to further information on the accrediting body's website. It is a requirement that bodies included in the accreditation table provide this additional student-facing information explaining their accreditation in more detail.

Assurance of accreditation information

Higher education providers submitting Unistats data are responsible for assuring its accuracy and accreditation information is an area which is scrutinised by OfS as part of its data audit activity.

Providers should seek advice from the relevant accrediting body if they are unsure which accreditation applies to their course.

We expect accrediting bodies included on Unistats to carry out periodic checks that their accreditations are being used accurately. They can do this by downloading the Unistats dataset and checking the courses listed against their body in the Accreditation by HEP file. If they identify any issues, they should liaise directly with the relevant providers.

Application process

Applications for the addition of a new accrediting body, or a new accreditation for a body already on the list, are considered on a rolling basis. These are assessed by Office for Students and Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education staff against the criteria for inclusion on the list. The application process is administered by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). We aim to provide an outcome within two months of receipt of an application.

Applications should be initiated by a higher education provider which intends to use the accreditation in their Unistats return. This helps to ensure that only bodies who are recognised by higher education providers and for which accreditations will be used are added to the list of accrediting bodies.

The provider should then liaise with the accrediting body to ensure that they complete the relevant section of the form and submit this to HESA.

Forms to request an addition to the Accreditation Information table should be requested from, and returned to [email protected].


If an accrediting body is not accepted for inclusion in the list, it will have a right to appeal. Reasons for appealing should be put in writing, within one month of being notified of the initial panel decision. Appeals will be limited to 1,000 words. The case will then be considered by a sub-group of the Higher Education Public Information Steering Group (HEPISG), which will decide whether there are grounds for accepting the appeal. HESA will advise the accrediting body of the outcomes of the appeal within one month of its receipt. If HEPISG rejects the appeal, an applicant will not be able to submit a further case for inclusion until there has been a material change to the organisation's accreditation process.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed against the following:

  1. Benefit to the student: The accreditation should represent a potential benefit to the student, of which it is valuable for them to be aware when choosing their undergraduate course. The body should therefore be able to demonstrate that its accreditation meets at least one of the following criteria:
    • Graduates are able to practise as a professional in a specific field (for example, they receive a license to practise that is required by law), or completion of the accredited programme allows them to apply to practise.
    • Graduates are granted chartered status or the completion of the accredited course forms part of a recognised pathway to professional recognition.
    • Graduates are granted exemption from all or some professional exams.
    • Graduates are eligible for entry to membership of a professional association or learned society.
    • The programme has been assessed as meeting externally designated standards and quality thresholds that are recognised by the sector's industry and employers.
  2. Accreditation process: In addition to explaining the benefit of the accreditation to the student, the body will need to demonstrate that its accreditation process is robust and involves the following.
    • A time-limited period of accreditation, with further review by the end of the accreditation period; or, where an accreditation is open-ended, a process of regular monitoring with the possibility of revocation if the programme fails to meet the standard of accreditation.
    • External peer review.1
    • A formal decision-making process where the body agrees to grant accreditation or not based on the outcome of the review of the programme.
    • Regular monitoring of academic standards.
  3. Availability of information about accreditation: The accrediting body should include a clear description of its accreditation process and the value of the accreditation on its website, along with a list of accredited courses. This should include an explanation of the implications for students currently pursuing an accredited programme of study if the accreditation is not renewed. It should provide a link to this information.
1. [Peer review is generally a process of review conducted by experts in the field. It may include academics and professionals, but review of programmes may also involve relevant stakeholders such as students and service users.] Back to footnote 1

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