Australian Dental Council
Quality Framework for the Accreditation Function: Domain 3: Operational Management Quality Framework for the Accreditation Function: Domain 4: Accreditation Standards
Quality Framework for the Accreditation Function Domain 5: Processes for accreditation of programs of study and education providers
Quality Framework for the Accreditation Function Domain 8: Stakeholder collaboration
Traditional accreditation processes place a strong emphasis on the periodic accreditation visit (accompanied by the submission of significant quantities of documentation from the program provider) which results in a range of outcomes – from accreditation of a program, with or without conditions, to the withdrawal of that accreditation. Regardless of the quality of that program (however ‘quality’ may be defined) or its regulatory history the accreditation process has traditionally operated on a ‘one size fits all’ model which does not allow for different approaches to be taken in reviewing ‘strong’ or ‘weak’ programs.
This has meant that programs with a history of complying with the relevant accreditation standards are treated no differently in terms of administrative burden than programs with a history of problems when it comes to that compliance.
Practice introduced or changed
In 2014 the ADC agreed on a gradual shift to more risk-based accreditation processes. In this case, risk was defined as the risk of a program failing to meet one or more of the ADC Accreditation Standards. The desired end goal of such a shift is that programs deemed to be at low risk of not meeting the Accreditation Standards can be subject to a more focussed and ‘right touch’ accreditation process, while those deemed to be at higher risk of not meeting the accreditation standards can be subject to a more rigorous accreditation process. As a first step on this journey the ADC revised its annual reporting process to focus on the collection of ‘risk data’ for each accredited program.
As part of its role in monitoring accredited programs the ADC requires the provider of an accredited program to submit an ‘annual report’ on an ADC provided template. Historically, the annual report has collected qualitative information which provided limited insight into whether a program was at risk of not meeting the accreditation standards. Such an approach also gave the program provider a lot of discretion for how much information it wished to share with the ADC. This also meant that it was very difficult to benchmark providers against each other or determine what ‘normal’ looked like.
In revising its annual report format the ADC undertook a review of the data and information that could provide an early indication that a program may be at risk of not meeting one or more of the accreditation standards. This was discussed and trialled with a number of program providers to test hypotheses and determine the practicality of collecting particular information. A revised annual report template that focusses largely on collecting quantitative information that will provide an early indication of the risk of a program not meeting the Accreditation Standards was launched in 2015.
The 2015 annual reporting process has provided ADC with a baseline of information which will be built on in subsequent years. This will not only allow for the ADC to monitor trends in how programs are tracking against the risk indicators, but will also provide it with a much clearer like for like comparison of programs and information on what ‘normal’ looks like across the dental education sector.
It is anticipated that the collection of several years of data will allow the ADC to shift towards a more proportionate accreditation process where greater resource is directed to high risk programs with a lighter touch being applied to low risk programs.
Where to go for more information
Please contact the ADC adc.org.au