Course Accreditation

AOPA introduced the regulatory process of Course Accreditation in July 2016 after a significant period of consultation with practitioners, educational institutions, members of the community and international stakeholders.

Course Accreditation allows AOPA to evaluate and assess the processes and outcomes of an Australian education program against the AOPA Course Accreditation Standards. AOPA encourages all Australian tertiary institutions that provide orthotic/prosthetic education programs to apply for Course Accreditation, however this is not mandatory.

The purpose of AOPA Course Accreditation is to ensure that competent orthotist/prosthetists graduate in Australia. This provides ongoing benefits to the public, students, the education provider and the orthotic/prosthetic profession, both in Australia and internationally.

WHAT ARE THE Standards?

The AOPA Course Accreditation Standards specify the minimum criteria against which an education program is assessed for accreditation. The standards do not prescribe the curriculum for orthotic/prosthetic programs. Instead, they define what is expected of a course to ensure it prepares graduates who have the required knowledge, competencies and professional attributes to practice as orthotist/prosthetists in Australia. These standards allow each program the flexibility to be innovative and to develop their own curriculum within the quality assurance mechanisms of the particular education provider.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

The decision for an education program to undergo Course Accreditation is voluntary. However, there are significant benefits to graduates who successfully complete an AOPA Accredited program.

In order to gain full membership to AOPA, orthotic/prosthetic practitioners must demonstrate that they meet the AOPA Competency Standards. The Competency Standards define the minimum skills and attributes that an entry-level practitioner must meet in order to practice in Australia. The Course Accreditation Standards include criteria to ensure that students are taught and assessed against each of the Competency Standards. Therefore, graduates of an AOPA Accredited education program are considered to have satisfied this membership requirement and are automatically eligible to join AOPA.

In contrast, graduates of a non-accredited education program must complete an individual competency assessment (refer to guidelines for non-accredited applicants) in order to demonstrate that they fulfil the requirements of the AOPA Competency Standards.

HOW DOES ACCREDITATION WORK?

Course Accreditation is relevant for currently established and new education programs, however different types of accreditation apply.

1. FULL ACCREDITATION

Education programs that are already established can apply to AOPA for full accreditation. This can only occur when a course already has students who are completing their final year of study, meaning that outcomes can be assessed and analysed. Please refer to the Full Accreditation Application Guide for course eligibility criteria.

If the accreditation process is successful, the program can be awarded 'Full Accreditation' status for a period of 6 to 10 years, subject to satisfactory ongoing monitoring.

2. INTERIM ACCREDITATION

New education programs must apply to AOPA for interim accreditation after the course structure and planning is complete, but before the first intake of students.This accreditation category is required as some of the standards cannot be comprehensively assessed until students are in their final year of study, specifically, those standards pertaining to clinical placement. For example, standard 4.5.1 states "Clinical placements are integrated into the curriculum to allow the achievement of competencies across a wide range of practice areas". The course must provide evidence to satisfy this standard, such as student and clinical placement supervisor feedback, which is not possible to collect until after the clinical placements have been conducted.

A new program may apply for interim accreditation anywhere up to 24 months before the first intake of students up until those initial students complete their first year of study. Please refer to the Interim Accreditation Application Guide for planning and eligibility criteria. If the education provider does not apply for interim accreditation, the course will be not be accredited until the first cohort of students are in their final year. At this point, the education provider may instead apply for full accreditation.

If the accreditation process is successful, the program can be awarded 'Interim Accreditation' which is valid until assessment for full accreditation occurs. Interim accredited programs must apply for full accreditation prior to the first cohort of students graduating.

APPLYING FOR COURSE ACCREDITATION

The following guidelines provide a comprehensive overview for education providers who are considering applying to AOPA for Course Accreditation. Please ensure you read the appropriate guidelines thoroughly before completing the Application Template.

Fees for Course Accreditation

The following document outlines the current fee structure for undertaking AOPA Course Accreditation.

Please don't hesitate to contact the AOPA National Office for further information or to discuss the Course Accreditation process.