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Academic Accreditation and Audit

The HKCAAVQ offers an extensive range of academic accreditation services. The academic accreditation service covers programmes offered by post-secondary institutions at postgraduate, degree and sub-degree levels. Accreditation service is also provided for non-local programmes (NLP) that are registered or exempted from registration under the Non-local Higher and Professional Courses (Regulation) Ordinance (Cap 493) and Institutional Review (IR) exercises are conducted for institutions seeking registration under the Post Secondary Colleges Ordinance (Cap 320) for degree-awarding status.

Following the implementation of the Secretariat’s new organisation structure from July 2012, the assessment of the Continuing Education Fund (CEF) reimbursable courses and non-local courses for registration under Cap 493 has been brought together in the new Academic Accreditation and Audit functional area with an aim to capture the synergy between the academic accreditation and assessment services.

Local Programme Accreditation
In 2012/13, the demand for academic accreditation remained high. During the reporting period, the HKCAAVQ conducted two IR exercises for institutions seeking registration under Cap 320 for degree-awarding status. Apart from the IR exercises, we also conducted Programme Validation for a total of 22 programmes and Revalidation for four programmes, with the participation of 10 operators. Requests from eight operators were processed for substantial changes to 25 programmes.



While the traditional programmes like Business Administration, Languages, Tourism, Hospitality, Health Care and Engineering remained popular, we also conducted accreditations for emerging programme areas such as Landscape Architecture and Chinese Catering at Qualifications Framework (QF) Level 5.



NLP Accreditation
The HKCAAVQ provides accreditation service for NLPs registered or exempted under Cap 493 leading to non-local awards offered in Hong Kong. An NLP accredited by the HKCAAVQ enjoys similar status to locally-accredited programmes, and its qualification can be recognised under the QF and placed on the Qualifications Register (QR).

Over the past year, the HKCAAVQ accredited 27 NLPs in diverse disciplines such as Business, Tourism, Hospitality, Accountancy and Finance, Visual Communication and Fine Arts, involving the participation of nine local operators and 11 overseas partners from Australia and the United Kingdom.

To evaluate the effectiveness and identify aspects for improvement in our NLP accreditation model, the HKCAAVQ engaged an overseas specialist to conduct a comprehensive review of NLP accreditation. Two focus group meetings were organised in December 2012 to share with operators the issues identified in the review and the proposed actions. Following the feedback received in the focus group meetings, the NLP guidelines were revised and associated tools were developed to streamline the NLP accreditation process.


Breakdown of Academic Programmes Validated or Revalidated (1 April 2012 - 31 March 2013)



Refinement of Accreditation Service
Apart from the NLP accreditation review, the HKCAAVQ also embarked on a number of initiatives in the year under review with an aim to enhance its accreditation service.

For the purpose of increased transparency in the quality assurance process, the HKCAAVQ has decided to publish accreditation reports by phases. In the first year, the HKCAAVQ will publish on its website the summary reports, which are direct extracts from the full accreditation reports. Consultation sessions were organised to explain to operators the related arrangements and gather valuable input from them.

Following requests from operators for greater clarity, the HKCAAVQ conducted a review of both local and international practices on what constitutes a substantial change to accreditation status. The review was conducted through telephone interviews and a focus group meeting held in March 2013, in which operators shared their internal policies and practices in handling changes to accreditation status. Operators were informed about proposed revisions to the guidelines and the associated tools for the purpose of better defining the scope of substantial change and enhancing the efficiency of assessing substantial changes.

Last year, we participated in two briefing sessions on the Award Titles Scheme (ATS) and Use of Credit under QF introduced by the Education Bureau to help operators better understand the implementation timetable of the two new initiatives and arrangements during the transitional period. We also spoke at two associated training workshops to introduce the key concepts and processes for assessing QF credits at institutional and programme levels.



Assessment of Non-local Courses
The HKCAAVQ is appointed by the Registrar of Non-local Higher and Professional Education Courses to provide professional advice as to whether a particular course delivered in Hong Kong leading to a non-local higher and professional qualification meets the registration criteria stipulated in the Non-local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Ordinance (Cap 493). The HKCAAVQ also advises the Registrar whether a registered non-local course continues to meet the registration criteria through annual reassessments.

In the reporting year, the HKCAAVQ streamlined the non-local course assessment process. Through close collaboration with the Non-local Courses Registry, the application form and the associated guidance notes were revised. As a result, the processing time needed for the assessment was shortened. Positive comments were also received from operators about the streamlining.

The demand for assessment of non-local courses remained high in the reporting period. This year, 715 non-local courses assessment cases (86 new applications, 442 annual returns and 187 changes of applications) were processed, representing a 25% increase compared to the last reporting period. In particular, the number of change applications increased by 33%, whereas the numbers of new applications and annual returns increased by 23% and 22% respectively.

Breakdown of new applications for non-local course assessment (1 April 2012 - 31 March 2013)






Assessment of CEF Courses
The HKCAAVQ is commissioned by the Labour and Welfare Bureau (LWB) to assess the Continuing Education Fund (CEF) reimbursable courses to ensure that these courses meet the CEF’s requirements in areas such as course contents, learning activities and teaching premises. The HKCAAVQ also conducts surprise audit visits to ascertain whether the CEF courses are operated in compliance with the approved conditions determined by the LWB.

This year, the HKCAAVQ refined the assessment procedures. The HKCAAVQ worked closely with the LWB and the Office of the Continuing Education Fund to streamline the assessment process and developed a simplified application form, thereby minimising the amount of information required to be submitted by the CEF course providers while maintaining the quality of the service. The CEF course providers expressed positive feedback on our efforts in streamlining the assessment process.

In the reporting period, the HKCAAVQ conducted 80 surprise audit visits and assessed 1,846 applications, of which 469 were new applications and 1,377 were applications for amendments to registered CEF reimbursable courses. The numbers of new applications and amendments increased by 30% and 23% respectively.

Breakdown of the new applications for assessment of CEF reimbursable courses
(1 April 2012 - 31 March 2013)


Staff Capacity Building Initiatives
The HKCAAVQ strives to enhance the professional knowledge of staff to cope with the rapid changes in the education sector. In the reporting year, overseas specialists were invited to deliver talks on the developments in quality assurance in different parts of the world so as to keep our staff informed about international good practices. Thematic sharing sessions were also conducted to enable our staff to share their knowledge and experience in a particular field. For the purpose of preparing for taking up the task of quality audit in the future, the similarities and differences between accreditation and audit were also covered in a series of staff capacity building initiatives. These activities not only helped to enhance the professional knowledge of our staff but also enabled us to reflect on our existing services for continuous improvement.



Looking Forward
Given the incorporation of academic accreditation and assessment of non-local courses and CEF courses in the same functional area, it is anticipated that the synergy created will further refine our work, in particular due to the close correlation between the NLP accreditation and assessment of non-local courses. To cope with the rising demands for academic accreditation and assessment services, the HKCAAVQ will keep on exploring different ways to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of our work.


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