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Shopping for Program Accreditation: Deciding on which accreditation agency to pursue. by Fernando F. Padró , Ph.D. Associate Professor, Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership Cambridge College Australian Higher Education Evaluation Forum (AHEEF) 2008 Conference October 3, 2008.
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Fernando F. Padró, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership
Australian Higher Education Evaluation Forum (AHEEF) 2008 Conference
October 3, 2008
“[T]he longer term development is nearly inevitably going to be in the direction of institutional accreditation, complemented by programme accreditation in certain areas …or in certain cases (e.g. institutions not able to be accredited in all areas, but doing well in a few, or those seeking to mark their excellence in a particular subject/discipline).” (Haug, 2003, p. 236)
Accreditation has become or is quickly becoming the “next step” performed after internal quality assurance has been performed (Augusti, 2005).
The emerging ground rules [for higher education] are creating new distinctions among institutions and reducing a number of factors that once highlighted important differences. Beyond the familiar differences based on institutional control, types of degrees offered, or missions, institutions are being more sharply defined by economic and prestige indicators—such as wealth, diversification of revenue, reputation, and market share.
(Eckel, Couturier, & Luu, 2005, p. 10)
“[i]nternal quality assurance processes can delay the approval of new programs and professional accreditation requirements may impose rigidities or introduce delays.” (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, 2008, p. 23)
“[t]here is also a growing influence from international professional bodies on the accreditation of programs and the structure of qualifications. Students are attracted to programs which carry international accreditation and thereby give graduates the opportunity for their qualifications to be recognised in multiple countries.” (DEEWR, 2008, p. 53)
“Professional accreditation of higher education courses (whether delivered by a self-accrediting or a non-self-accrediting institution) occurs in a range of professional areas (e.g. medicine, nursing, law, accountancy) as a prerequisite for professional registration on a legislative or voluntary basis.” (DEEWR, 2008, p. 71)
Why would academic units or specific programs want to pursue program-level accreditation?
Program-level accreditation provides the opportunity for these programs to document and demonstrate  how they meet challenges that mirror the demands faced by professionals in the field and  demonstrate the benefit of the program to the institution, the unit itself, faculty and staff, students, and the community (AACSB, 2008; ACSBP, 2008).
There are instances when one professional area or discipline have two or more accrediting bodies. For example, in the USA:
When there is a choice, institutions make decisions from a cost benefit analysis.
External climate issues impacting decision:
Perceived Benefits (Cecil et al. (1987); House as presented in Bahen & Miller, 1998)
Perceived liabilities (Bahen & Miller, 1998; Smaby and D’Andrea, 1995)
The more non-traditional the university, the greater the need to establish legitimacy, engendering a more conservative approach toward external review/approval processes (Padró & Hurley, 2008; Augusti, 2005).
For those with questions or further discussion, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Bahen, S.C., & Miller, K.E. (1998). CACREP accreditation: A case study. Journal of Humanistic
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Cecil, J.H., Havens, R. Moracco, J.C., Scott, N.A., Spooner, S.E., & Vaugh, C.M. (1987).
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Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2008). Review of Australian Higher Education: Discussion Paper, June 2008. Canberra, AUS: Author. Retrieved 07-28-2008 from author website: http://www.dest.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/06C65431-8791-4816-ACB9- 6F1FF9CA3042/22465/08_222_Review_AusHEd_Internals_100pp_FINAL_WEB.pdf.
Eckel, P.D., Couturier, L., & Luu, D.T. (2005). Peering around the bend: The leadership challenges of privatization, accountability, and market-based state policy. Washington, DC: American Council on Education.
Haug, G. (2003). Quality assurance/accreditation in the emerging European higher education
area: a possible scenario for the future. European Journal of Education, 38(3), 229-240.
Smaby, M.H., & D’Andrea, L.M. (1995). 1994 CACREP Standards: Will we make the grade?
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Stufflebeam, D.L. (2001). Evaluation models: New Directions for Evaluation, no. 89. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass.
The Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). (2008). Value of accreditation webpage. From Association website: http://www.acbsp.org/index.php?mo=cms&op=ld&fid=75.
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB). (2008). Eligibility procedures and accreditation standards for business accreditation. Tampa, FL: Author. Retrieved 07-23-2008 from http://www.aacsb.edu/accreditation/process/documents/AACSB_STANDARDS_RevisedJan08.pdf.