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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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 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).
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.
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 (www.hkqr.gov.hk) 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
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.
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 are programmes designed in accordance
with the SCS.
It is one of the principles of accreditation. It refers to the minimum
quality requirements stipulated by the HKCAAVQ.
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
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.