Had we known the volume of work required to achieve accreditation for the ACC, we would’ve definitely thought twice about it… and still gone ahead with a less naïve attitude!
Gaining accreditation demands a lion’s share of our resources (and your ongoing contributions); but represents the most important standard of higher education.
For that, we welcome the challenge.
Today we’re sharing a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes – and why the ACC is set to become the most accredited chiropractic program in Australia.
What is Accreditation?
The process of accreditation is the way in which a program is assessed for things like academic quality, student welfare, financial sustainability, and governance. It’s a complex, time consuming, and costly process, with the lion’s share of ACC’s resources funnelled into achieving it.
It is also a very necessary process if an institution wants to ensure it is meeting the basic standards higher education. Because of this, the ACC welcomes the challenge accreditation provides.
Australian Accreditation Requirements
In Australia, there are two levels of accreditation: professional and government accreditation.
The professional accreditation body of Australia is the Chiropractic Board of Australia (CBA). (If you think you’ve heard that name before, you’d be right. All Australian chiropractors must register with this body.) It’s also the body who issue complaint notifications, write practice guidelines, and administer the Act to chiropractors.
The CBA has a legislative requirement to advocate for, and protect, the public. It’s for this reason that the CBA has the final say in the approval (from a professional standpoint) of any chiropractic course.
However, because of the huge scale of the accreditation process, the CBA have delegated this process to the Council of Chiropractic Education Australasia (CCEA).
The Implications of CCEA Accreditation and Cycles
CCEA accredits all programs in the Australasian region, and, while in a strict sense the ACC could use another accrediting agency (not that there is one!), it would be silly to ignore the skills, quality of personnel, and processes that CCEA provide.
CCEA have accredited all the Australian chiropractic programs, as well as NZCC and programs in Asia. Accreditation with CCEA comes with a list of areas for the program to improve as well as a time frame in which to make the improvements and when the program’s next accreditation cycle is due.
You can take this loosely to mean that a program on a yearly cycle has much to improve, and CCEA feels that it requires close monitoring.
On the other hand, a program on a five-year cycle is considered a very high quality program.
The highest accredited program in our region is NZCC which was awarded a five-year cycle in 2016 – the greatest possible cycle. Thus CCEA has a high degree of confidence that the program will maintain this standard for the duration.
It’s worth mentioning that NZCC has gifted its course in entirety to the ACC. This means that the ACC will build on a foundation that already has the highest level of professional accreditation in the region.
However, accreditation does not come complimentary with the program.
ACC still needs to achieve professional accreditation through CCEA in its own right – a process we’re undergoing as you read this.
How the Staged Accreditation will Play Out
The process of ACC to become accredited with CCEA/CBA is staged. This means that as the ACC teaches its first group of students, CCEA will monitor and assess its progress giving accreditation year by year until the first cohort graduates. It is at this point that ACC can become fully accredited.
As important as professional accreditation is, there’s a more important body to satisfy first – the Tertiary Education Standards and Quality Agency, TEQSA.
(I say it’s more important than professional accreditation because without approval from TEQSA, ACC cannot teach. In reality, both CCEA and TEQSA are vital, however, to achieve CCEA approval without TEQSA approval would not allow the ACC to take on students – the fundamental ingredient of a functioning college!)
One way to think about the structure of accreditation for the ACC is to think of process of registration to practice chiropractic in Australia. It is CBA who regulates chiropractors specifically, but it is AHPRA who registers all health professionals. In this example, AHPRA is TEQSA.
And then there was TEQSA
All higher education providers in Australia must be registered and accredited with TEQSA, including all Australian Universities.
To my knowledge, no Australian chiropractic program has ever been assessed and accredited by TEQSA on its own.
The four universities currently delivering chiropractic courses have ‘self accrediting’ status, granted when TEQSA was established in 2011. This renders them exempt from needing to have each of their courses accredited by TEQSA.
The ACC does not have this luxury. ACC will need to be accredited on two levels with TEQSA.
Once to be registered as a Higher Education Provider, and once to have its chiropractic course accredited.
Once achieved, ACC will be the most accredited chiropractic program in Australia, having both TEQSA and CCEA/CBA approval.
The Bigger Picture
This is an exciting time for chiropractic in Australia.
As ACC moves closer to establishment, I’ve noticed a gelling of the profession around the values and principles that ACC stands for. I am looking forward to bringing more news to you about the accreditation process and how ACC is progressing.
Yours in Chiropractic
Dr Patrick Sim, Chiropractor
Australian Chiropractic College