Accreditation is an authoritative and impartial evaluation of the quality of learning programmes or the ability of an institution/organisation in delivering such learning programmes by the HKCAAVQ. As the HKCAAVQ is the Accreditation Authority under the QF, qualifications of the programmes accredited by the HKCAAVQ are eligible for entering into the QR.

Accreditation Authority
HKCAAVQ is specified in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications Ordinance (Cap 592) as the Accreditation Authority to develop and implement the standards and mechanism for academic and vocational qualification accreditation to underpin the QF. It is also entrusted with the responsibility of assuring the quality of appointed assessment agencies, qualifications recognised under the QF and their associated learning programmes.

Accreditation Panel
An accreditation panel consists of specialists with the expertise to conduct relevant accreditation exercises. A HKCAAVQ staff member plays the dual role of a Panel Member and Secretary to the Panel.

Accreditation Report
It is the report the HKCAAVQ issues to the agency/programme provider on completion of an accreditation exercise. It will contain the determination of that accreditation exercise; and state the validity period, QF level and conditions and restrictions (if any). It will also provide the observations and recommendations of the accreditation panel, as well as the rationale for arriving at the accreditation determination.

Applied Learning (ApL) Courses
ApL is an integral part of the senior secondary curriculum to offer diverse learning programmes for students with interests and inclinations in areas other than those provided by the academic school curriculum. ApL courses are provided by various course providers including tertiary institutions and professional bodies. The Education Bureau has introduced a three-stage quality assurance process to ensure that the learning outcomes and standards of the ApL subjects are comparable to other subjects of the existing and the new secondary school curriculum. The HKCAAVQ is responsible for examining the delivery aspects of the ApL courses – the second stage of the quality assurance process.

Appointed Assessment Agency (AAA)
An Appointed Assessment Agency can be a person, school, institution, organisation or other body appointed by the Secretary for Education under the Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications Ordinance (Cap 592) to assess the skills, knowledge or experience acquired by individuals and to grant qualifications in recognition of such assessed skills, knowledge or experience. Prior to appointment by the Secretary for Education, the agency first needs to be successfully accredited by the HKCAAVQ under the same ordinance.

Assessment is a service delivered by the HKCAAVQ. It is an impartial evaluation of programmes, schemes or individual qualifications based on a set of assessment criteria developed for a particular purpose. The assessment result forms an independent opinion on the standard of the programme, scheme or individual qualifications being assessed, but does not constitute any recognition of the quality of the programme, scheme or similar qualifications.

Collective Approach
It is a methodology for a streamlined accreditation service in which a number of accreditation requests from the same industry / discipline / provider will be processed concurrently by a single accreditation panel.


It is one of the principles of accreditation. It means that accreditation decisions will be made based on the evidence provided by the providers to demonstrate that they meet the accreditation standards stipulated by the HKCAAVQ.

Fitness for Purpose
It is one of the principles of accreditation. It means that programme providers or programmes are accredited based on their stated objectives.

Four-stage Quality Assurance Process
It is a mechanism developed by the HKCAAVQ to conduct accreditation according to a structured process to underpin the QF. The stages of the process include IE, PV, PAA and PR. Through them, the HKCAAVQ evaluates learning programmes and the education or training capabilities of programme providers under the QF.

Industry Training Advisory Committee (ITAC)
ITAC is an advisory body comprising representatives from employers, employees and professional bodies of an industry to develop, maintain and update the SCS, and formulate an RPL mechanism for that industry. It also helps promote the QF within the industry.

Initial Evaluation (IE)
IE is the first stage of the Four-stage Quality Assurance Process. It is an evaluation of whether a programme provider has the organisational competency to effectively manage and provide adequate resources to the development, delivery, assessment and quality assurance of its learning programmes and educational/training services.

Institutional Review (IR)
IR is an evaluation of the overall academic environment of an institution in delivering its intended learning programmes. An IR exercise examines an institution's governance, institutional structure, academic plans, staffing, quality assurance and resources. If the IR is conducted for registration under the Post Secondary Colleges Ordinance (Cap 320), it will also ascertain whether the institution meets the academic requirements of the ordinance.

Learning Outcome
Learning outcome refers to a student's attained knowledge, skills and application as a result of completing a learning programme.

Non-local Course/Learning Programme
Non-local course/learning programme refers to courses registered (or exempted from registration) under the Non-local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Ordinance (Cap 493).

Refers to an approach which focuses on the empirical measurement of learners’ performance (outcomes), rather than emphasising the resources available to the learners (inputs).

Peer Review
It is one of the principles of accreditation. It means that academic and professional experts with relevant expertise and experience are involved as panel members in the accreditation process.

Periodic Review (PR)
PR is the fourth stage of the Four-stage Quality Assurance Process. Programme providers granted a PAA status have to undertake PR in order to maintain their PAA status. PR is repeated at regular intervals according to the validity period of the PAA status. PR is used to ascertain whether the internal quality assurance processes of the provider continue to be effective and sound.


Programme Area Accreditation (PAA)
PAA is the third stage of the Four-stage Quality Assurance Process. It is conferred on programme providers with sufficient quality assurance competency and maturity at the organisational level and a good track record in their validated programme(s). Upon gaining PAA, a provider may develop and operate learning programmes within an approved scope of programme area(s) at specified QF Level(s) for an approved period of time (validity period), and have the qualifications of its learning programmes entered into the QR for QF recognition without going through programme validation or revalidation by the HKCAAVQ.

Programme Validation (PV) and Revalidation
PV is the second stage of the Four-stage Quality Assurance Process. It is an overall evaluation of the learning programme to determine whether its planning and management, syllabuses, delivery arrangements and assessment methods, are able to achieve its claimed objectives and deliver its intended learning outcomes. Programme revalidation is the re-accreditation of programmes before the expiry date of their programme validation period.

Qualifications Framework (QF)
The QF in Hong Kong is a seven-level cross-sectoral hierarchy to clearly define the standards of qualifications in the academic, vocational and continuing education sectors. It was set up by the Government on 5 May 2008 to promote lifelong learning and to enhance the capabilities and competitiveness of the Hong Kong workforce to meet the needs of a knowledge-based economy.


QF Level
Refers to the seven levels of the QF. Learning programmes undergoing accreditation will be pitched at one of the seven levels.

Qualifications Register (QR)
QR is an online register ( containing qualifications recognised under the QF. It was set up by the Government under the QF on 5 May 2008. It provides free information to the public about QF-recognised qualifications, associated programmes and programme providers.

QR Authority
The HKCAAVQ is specified in Part 2 of Schedule 1 of the Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications Ordinance (Cap 592) as the QR Authority to maintain the QR.


Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
RPL is a mechanism under the QF to give formal recognition of the knowledge, skills and experience of people from different industries. The operation of RPL will be based on the SCSs formulated by the respective industries through their ITACs.


Self-accrediting Operators/Institutions/Providers
Under Schedule 2 of the Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications Ordinance (Cap 592), self-accrediting operators in Hong Kong are The Chinese University of Hong Kong, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, The Hong Kong Institute of Education (for learning programmes in teacher education only), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Lingnan University, The Open University of Hong Kong and The University of Hong Kong.

Specification of Competency Standards (SCS)
The SCS represent the industry benchmarks for the skills, knowledge and attributes required to perform tasks in that industry at a certain QF level. SCS are developed by the ITAC of the relevant industry.

SCS-based Programmes
SCS-based programmes are programmes designed in accordance with the SCS.

Threshold Standard
It is one of the principles of accreditation. It refers to the minimum quality requirements stipulated by the HKCAAVQ.

Validity Period
It represents the period of time in which an approved accreditation status is effective as stipulated in the accreditation report. For the QR, a validity period refers to the registered period of a qualification. Within the validity period, the qualification will be recognised by the QF.



This glossary aims to provide a general elaboration of the terms used in this report or by the HKCAAVQ to readers from all walks of life. It is by no means an academic or philosophical attempt to analyse the concepts or connotations for any particular purpose, and is not exhaustive in its elaboration and in the list of terms.