Accreditation of Occupational Therapy Education Programs
The Occupational Therapy Council of Australia Ltd (OTC) assesses and accredits occupational therapy education programs provided by Australian education providers as part of the accreditation functions under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 (National Law).
Programs of study leading to a qualification in occupational therapy must be accredited by the OTC prior to approval of the qualification by the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia (OTBA) for students and graduate of the program to be qualified for registration with the OTBA.
The OTC undertakes an initial accreditation assessment of new programs prior to the first intake of students. If the OTC is reasonably satisfied the program meets the accreditation standard or will meet the accreditation standard within a reasonable time with the imposition of conditions, the program will be accredited by the OTC. The OTC then monitors the program and the education provider to ensure the occupational therapy program and the education provider continue to meet the accreditation standard.
The sequence for accreditation of occupational therapy programs
In seeking accredited status, education providers planning to provide entry-level education programs in occupational therapy must apply for an accreditation assessment and subsequently demonstrate the extent to which their program meets the Occupational Therapy Accreditation Standards. A team of trained assessors determines the extent to which each program meets the criteria outlined in the accreditation standard.
Education providers are encouraged to make early contact with the OTC to receive guidance in the accreditation process.
Programs are accredited every five years. Following an accreditation assessment, a program is required to provide progress reports as outlined in the accreditation report, submit annual reports and report any major changes that occur subsequent to an accreditation assessment.
Assessment process for new programs
Stage 1 Assessment
An education provider proposing to establish a new program in occupational therapy should notify the OTC of its intention to seek accreditation, indicating how the program will be developed. This will ensure it has all details of the accreditation process, and determine whether the planned program is likely to comply with the OTC accreditation standard.
Stage 2 Assessment
Accreditation applications for initial assessment of new occupational therapy programs should be received by the OTC nine to 12 months prior to the planned commencement date. Full details of the program must be provided, with special attention given to the resources available and resources proposed to deliver the program (especially staff and physical resources within the education provider, and commitment from agencies which will provide practice education/fieldwork opportunities). New programs are assessed against the same standard as established programs. At this stage of assessment, accreditation is granted with conditions if the planned program is on track to meet the accreditation standard.
Stage 3 Assessment
A further full accreditation review of the program will occur prior to the graduation of the first cohort of students (usually in the first semester of the program’s final year, or after an extended practice education/fieldwork placement in the final year).
The following accreditation decisions are available to the OTC:
|Accreditation||This accreditation status indicates the program of study, and the education provider that provides the program of study, meet the approved accreditation standard for the profession. Recommendations relating to quality improvement of the program are generally included in the accreditation report. The program will be monitored to ensure it continues to meet the accreditation standard.
|Accreditation with Conditions||This accreditation status indicates the program of study, and the education provider that provides the program of study substantially meet the approved accreditation standard for the profession and the imposition of conditions on the accreditation will ensure the program meets the standard within a reasonable time.
New programs will be awarded “accreditation with conditions”. The conditions usually relate to the progressive implementation of the new program.
The education provider will be required to provide reports on its progress in meeting the conditions. Evidence the conditions have been met will be verified by the OTC.
|Accreditation Revoked||The program of study, and the education provider that provides the program of study, no longer meet an approved accreditation standard for the profession and it is no longer accredited.
Accreditation may be revoked where the deficiencies in a program are so serious they cannot be addressed in a reasonable period by the imposition of conditions, or where the education provider has not satisfied the OTC that the whole program can be implemented and delivered at a level consistent with the accreditation standards.