Program accreditation = the dreaded visit whereby strangers visit your workplace, look at and ask for random information, and then decide the fate of your workplace/program’s reputation.
Although accreditation happens on a regular basis, and the criteria is known in advance, universities still struggle to meet its demands. Look at McGill University – in Feb. 2015, their prestigious medical school was assessed and found to have not met several of the criteria set out by the accrediting body, and was subsequently put on probation. It was noted that some of the issues were administrative, and also that some of the problems were due to the fact that they were in the middle of changing to a new curriculum. Regardless, McGill’s dean of medicine, David Eidelman admits, “There’s no excuse for being on probation, so any explanation is not an excuse […]”.
It’s interesting, when I read through the actual report, so many of the issues were simply a result of poor communication between the department (policies, instructional inconsistencies, administrative factors) and the students. For example, the report indicates that “the majority of students interviewed were not aware of the overall education program objectives”. How does this happen!? Policies, objectives, course requirements, etc. are all important elements in a program guide. Not only does this information need to be given to the students, it needs to be reviewed with them. And the instructor should ensure that the students understand the information (maybe a little formative evaluation would help?). I’m sure that students in the medicine program are just bombarded with information, especially when they are just beginning the program. And I’m sure the expectation is that they read through the documents independently. These are adults, after all – and future doctors, at that! But it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t working. There are certain things that need to be specifically reviewed with the students…I’d suggest that if McGill wants to maintain it’s accreditation, they not forget about these “little things” – because that could cost them their program.