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New research on the impact of Accreditation is published by Advance HE

25 Nov 2020 | Advance HE Advance HE has published independent research on the impact of institutional accreditation and its contribution to the professionalisation of teaching and learning in higher education.

Advance HE has published research assessing the impact of accreditation to award fellowships in the context of the UK Professional Standards Framework for Teaching and Supporting Learning (UKPSF) at UK and international institutions. Advance HE commissioned the University of Plymouth Enterprise Ltd (UoPEL) to conduct this research between February and August 2020. Kathryn Harrison-Graves, Director for Membership and Accreditation at Advance HE, discusses the importance of this research below.

The success of Advance HE’s Fellowship scheme is evidenced by the growing numbers of Fellows globally; there are now almost 140,000 Fellows across 100 countries. Whilst there is an increasing evidence base around the value of Fellowship to the individual, there is little in the literature about the impact of Advance HE accreditation at an institutional level and the contribution that this is making to the professionalisation of teaching and learning in higher education.

As part of a full periodic review of our professional recognition services, Advance HE commissioned independent research into the impact that Advance HE accreditation and the resulting Fellowship is having within member institutions. This research carried out between February and August 2020, led by a team from the University of Plymouth, identifies many significant ways in which accreditation and Fellowship is influencing learning and teaching in institutions and the importance of fellowship as an increasingly recognised global benchmark.

Member institutions applying for accreditation report that learning and teaching is a key strategic priority, underpinned by the professional development, recognition and reward of all staff that teach and support learning. This research report identifies the positive impact of accreditation on the wider institutional culture in key areas, such as in raising the profile of learning and teaching, encouraging cross-institutional collaboration, underpinning career progression for education-focused staff, developing effective educational practices and stimulating engagement in professional development and scholarship. Data also indicates that the impact of institutional accreditation is reflected in changes to institutional strategies and policies around learning and teaching.

Insight provided by in-depth case studies involving key staff and students at 11 diverse institutions further reinforces the positive impacts identified and provides rich data to illustrate how institutions are able to utilise accreditation and Fellowship within their unique contexts and to suit their key strategic priorities.

We are of course delighted to see the impact that accreditation is having identified through independent research and we hope that our member institutions will engage in the webinars with the Research Team to hear more about their work and the findings.

As well as confirming that accreditation is having a positive impact in institutions, the report also makes several recommendations for consideration by Advance HE which will inform a stream of work over the coming year. We welcome these recommendations and the opportunity to further develop and enhance our service.

When we commissioned this research we were unaware that a global pandemic was imminent; we would like to thank the research team for completing this work during that period and to thank the many staff and students in accredited member institutions that engaged in this research and provided such valuable insight at an extremely challenging time.

Advance HE Members can access the report and literature review here.

To find out more about the impact of accreditation, the University of Plymouth research team, led by Dr Lucy Spowart, will share the findings of the project in two webinars on  8 December at 08:30 GMT  and 10 December at 13:30 GMT. Both webinars will feature the same content. 

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