Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-21, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 18 June, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


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core definition

Self-accreditation is a process or status that implies a degree of autonomy, on the part of an institution or individual, to make decisions about academic offerings or learning.

explanatory context

Self-accreditation is indicative of autonomy. It applies to institutions that have been awarded a status such that they are able to make awards in their own name without reference to an external party.

For example, the United Kingdom universities that have a Royal Charter may offer their own degrees and are as such self-accrediting, although they do not tend to use the term. The term has, though, been applied recently to further education colleges that have been granted the right by The Privy Council to award its own foundation degrees. The first two institutions to have this status are New College Durham and Newcastle College (QAA, 2012). This only applies to foundation degrees, although some further education colleges are seeking wider self-accreditation powers. Further education colleges deliver about 8 per cent of the UK’s higher education, mainly through two-year foundation degrees introduced 11 years ago. Currently, any higher education qualification undertaken (in part or whole) at a further education college bears the name of the university that validated the programme and that is ultimately responsible for it. The two colleges awarded self-accreditation status had to have delivered higher education for four consecutive years, and convince the Quality Assurance Agency that they constituted a self-critical, cohesive academic community with a proven commitment to quality assurance and enhancement, which required fulfilling seven criteria related to governance, academic standards, scholarship, teaching and a supportive educational environment.

In Hong Kong there is a binary divide 'in the higher education sector dividing institutions into "Self-accrediting” and “non-self-accrediting” types. For the non-self accrediting institutions, a process of accreditation is adopted, whereas the self-accrediting institutions are subjected to periodic audits or reviews.' Wong (2009, p. 2).

Wong further elaborates on the approach in Hong Kong as follows:

Hong Kong has an interesting external quality assurance system which features a combination of both accreditation and audit. The division between these two types of approach is based on the concept of “self-accreditation” which has its origin in the British system dating back to the days of the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA). The more mature institutions, which are judged to be developed in their internal quality assurance, are no longer required to undergo external accreditation, and currently these are the eight institutions being funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC). Following the U.K. model, a system of audit has been put in place for these institutions. At the degree level, audit was carried out by the University Grants Committee (UGC), through the Teaching and Learning Quality Process Review (TLQPR). Starting 2008, quality audit has been conducted by the Quality Assurance Council under the UGC. The objective of Quality Audit is “an audit of an institution’s Fitness for Purpose in teaching and learning. The audit examines “whether an institution has procedures in place appropriate for its stated purpose”, whether it pursues activities and applies resources to achieve those purposes. The audit is conducted by a peer review panel, through site visits to the institution. The panel examines 11 focus areas relating to institutional issues, but selective programmes are also examined to provide evidence of institutional processes in quality assurance…. There is no approval or non-approval decision, as the purpose of the reviews is to encourage and facilitate improvement. The objectives of such reviews are also grounded in the concept of self-accreditation, which recognizes the academic autonomy of the institution and its ability to award qualifications and maintain standards without external approval. (Wong, 2009, pp. 4–5)

In Australia, universities are established by or under relevant state, territory and commonwealth legislation and have authority to accredit and issue their own qualifications. Again these are not usually referred to as self-accrediting universities and the terms ‘self-accrediting’ is applied to the four non-university institutions in Australia that are called ‘Self-accrediting Higher Education institutions’ and that have authority to accredit and issue their own qualifications under state, territory or commonwealth. The four institutions (as of July 2012) are Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Melbourne College of Divinity, Australian College of Theology, Australian Film Television and Radio School. The Australian Maritime College previously had that status but since January 2008 has been an Institute of the University of Tasmania. Self-accrediting Higher Education Institutions are not able to use the title 'University'. Other institutions in Australia are ‘non self-accrediting higher education institutions’ and are registered by the various commonwealth, state and territory government higher education accrediting authorities as a higher education institution and each qualification they offer must be accredited by the authority. An institution may not operate without both registration and qualification accreditation. (Australian Qualifications Framework, undated.)

In Malaysia, as of 2010, eight institutions had self-accrediting status, which means that institutions can accredit their own programmes without going through the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. However, self-accreditation status does not include professional programmes, which still need accreditation and recognition from the relevant professional bodies. The eight self-accrediting Malaysian institutions are the four research universities (Universiti Malaya, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Sains Malaysia); and four foreign branch campuses in Malaysia (University Sunway Campus, the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus and Curtin University of Technology Sarawak Campus) (University World News, 2010). The Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Curtin University of Technology Sarawak Campus, Professor Ian Kerr, said: “Self-accreditation is really the accreditation of an institution’s internal quality mechanisms, with all the processes and procedures for quality assurance.” (Curtin University, 2010).

Self-accreditation also applies to continuing professional development as required by some professional bodies, such as the health and medical professions in the United Kingdom, Canada and elsewhere.

analytical review

The Universities Australia (2011) statement on the draft TEQSA legislation states:

Self-accreditation refers to academic autonomy in relation to courses and degree content. Self-accreditation is a central characteristic of true universities around the world in their role as long-standing independent centres of knowledge and learning.

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (2010), referring to continuing professional development, states:

Self-accreditation is a process through which physician leaders in hospitals and other medical institutions ensure their rounds and journal clubs meet the Royal College's established standards, thus allowing these activities to be included under Section 1 of the Framework of Educational (CPD) Options. Self- accreditation allows providers to design and implement continuing professional development activities that are responsive to the learners' needs, are interactive and evaluate the impact of these activities on practice. As with accreditation, self-accreditation places the responsibility of adhering to the Royal College standards with the provider developing and delivering the activity. Formal accreditation from the Royal College is not required. Activities are automatically included within the MainCert program so long as the requirements established by the Royal College for self-accreditation are met..

associated issues

related areas

See also



Australian Qualifications Framework, undated, Self-accrediting Higher Education Institutions available at, accessed 17 July 2012, page not available 10 January 2017.

Curtin University, 2010, Press release, 15 June 2010, available at, accessed 17 July 2012, page not available 10 January 2017.

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, 2012, List of subscribing institutions, available at, accessed 17 July 2012, page not available 10 January 2017.

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, 2010, Self-Accreditation Tool Kit For Rounds, Journal Clubs Or Other Hospital-Based Educational Events, available at, accessed 17 July 2012.

Universities Australia, 2011, Press Release: Universities Australia releases its statement regarding the draft TEQSA legislation, 24 February, 2011, available at, accessed 17 July 2012, page not available 10 January 2017.

University World News, 2010, ‘Malaysia: Eight institutions get self-accreditation status’, 23 May 2010, Issue no:125, available at, accessed 17 July 2012, still available 10 January 2017.

Wong, WS., 2009, Different approaches to QA in Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan : background, impact, and reactions from the sector, paper presented at INQAAHE conference, 2009, ‘New Approaches To Quality Assurance In The Changing World Of Higher Education’, available at, accessed 17 July 2012, page not available 10 January 2017.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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