Analytic Quality Glossary

 

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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004–14, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International, http://www.qualityresearchinternational.com/glossary/

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 9 March, 2014 , © Lee Harvey 2004–14.

 

 
   

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Professional body


core definition

A professional body is a group of people in a learned occupation who are entrusted with maintaining control or oversight of the legitimate practice of the occupation.


explanatory context

Professional bodies have, in some countries, a significant role in the oversight of education linked to the professions.

 

Professional bodies are similar to but distinct from regulatory bodies.


analytical review

The Australian Council of Professions defines ‘a professional body’ as follows:

A professional body represents a profession when it is a body formally constituted for this purpose, and comprises substantial numbers of practitioners in a defined field.

 

The UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) (2011) states:

Professional body: An organisation that oversees the activities of a particular profession and represents the interests of its members (for example, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors).

QAA (2011), confusingly, has a separate definition for professional, statutory and regulatory bodies, which it defines as:

Organisations that set the benchmark standards for, and regulate the standards of entry into, particular profession(s) and are authorised to accredit, approve or recognise specific programmes leading to the relevant professional qualification(s) - for which they may have a statutory or regulatory responsibility.
Further information can be found on the website of the Higher Education Better Regulation Group.

 

The Wikipedia (2004) definition of professional body was:

A professional body or professional organization is an organisation, usually non-profit, that exists to further a particular profession, to protect both the public interest and the interests of professionals. The balance between these two may be a matter of opinion. One the one hand, professional bodies act to protect the public by maintaining and enforcing standards of training and ethics in their profession. On the other hand, they may also act like a cartel or a labor union (trade union) for the members of the profession, though this description is commonly rejected by the body concerned. Membership of a professional body does not necessarily mean that a person possesses qualifications in the subject area, nor that they are legally able to practice their profession — although in some countries and professions, membership of a professional body is required for somebody to legally practice.

More recently Wikipedia (2012) states:

A professional association (also called a professional body, professional organization, or professional society) is usually a nonprofit organization seeking to further a particular profession, the interests of individuals engaged in that profession, and the public interest.
The roles of these professional associations have been variously defined: "A group of people in a learned occupation who are entrusted with maintaining control or oversight of the legitimate practice of the occupation;"... also a body acting "to safeguard the public interest;"... organizations which "represent the interest of the professional practitioners," and so "act to maintain their own privileged and powerful position as a controlling body."... This, in turn, places the burden of enforcing a Profession ban upon these associations as well.
Such bodies generally strive to achieve a balance between these two often conflicting mandates. Though professional bodies often act to protect the public by maintaining and enforcing standards of training and ethics in their profession, they often also act like a cartel or a labor union (trade union) for the members of the profession, though this description is commonly rejected by the body concerned.


associated issues

Role of professional and regulatory bodies (PRBs)

Professional and regulatory bodies play three roles (Harvey and Mason, with Ward, 1995).

First, they are set up to safeguard the public interest. This is what gives them their legitimacy.

Second, professional bodies [but not regulatory bodies] also represent the interest of the professional practitioners and here they act as a professional association or trade union (including legitimating restrictive practices), or as a learned society contributing to continuous professional development.

Third, the professional or regulatory body represents its own self-interest: the organisations act to maintain their own privileged and powerful position as a controlling body. This is where control, legitimated by public interest becomes confounded by control based on self-interest.


related areas

See also

profession

regulatory body

programme accreditation


Sources

Australian Council of Professions, 2004, Membership Information: Criteria available at http://www.professions.com.au/ criteria.html, not available 26 August 2012.

Harvey, L. and Mason, S. with Ward, R., 1995, The Role of Professional Bodies in Higher Education Quality Monitoring. Birmingham: Quality in Higher Education Project.

Higher Education Better Regulation Group (HEBRG), 2011, Professional, statutory and regulatory bodies: an exploration of their engagement with higher education, available at http://www.hebetterregulation.ac.uk/OurWork/Documents/HEBRG_PSRB%20report_FINAL.pdf, accessed 22 September 2012.

Wikipedia, 2004, professional body, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional_body, updated, 11 November 2004, definition changed see Wikipedia 2012.

Wikipedia, 2012, professional association, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional_body, updated, 30 December 2011, accessed 23 January 2012.


copyright Lee Harvey 2004–12



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