Posted July 29, 2015
The AVMA Council on Education, which accredits veterinary schools and colleges, received some much-anticipated news in July that affects financial aid for U.S. veterinary students studying at foreign institutions. The accrediting body also got word on its status with a nonprofit that recognizes accreditors.
First, the Department of Education notified the COE in a June 30 letter that it is an acceptable agency to accredit foreign veterinary colleges. This is a new recognition originating from a change to the Higher Education Act. Prior to this change, the USDE evaluated individual foreign veterinary colleges for the purposes of awarding Title IV federal financial aid to U.S. citizens who choose to attend. Title IV federal financial aid programs encompass Federal Direct Loans, Perkins Loans, and Federal Family Education Loans.
Effective July 1, the USDE established a new program to evaluate the standards and processes of agencies that accredit foreign veterinary schools. The determination that the COE has an acceptable quality assurance system in place to evaluate the quality of education at the foreign veterinary schools is now necessary to maintaining financial aid support to these U.S. citizens. The COE accredits five veterinary colleges in Canada and 14 in other countries. About 619 U.S. citizens were expected to graduate this past academic year from international member institutions of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, according to the association. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and Australasian Veterinary Boards Council were both also determined to be acceptable to the USDE.
To determine whether an accreditor of foreign veterinary schools is acceptable, the USDE developed a set of guidelines to which the COE and any other interested agency must adhere. Accreditors were asked to give information on and provide evidence of compliance with the following elements:
Structure of the system that the agency uses to authorize the establishment of veterinary schools and subsequent oversight of the quality of the veterinary education program.
Standards and requirements the agency uses to evaluate the quality of veterinary education.
Evaluation process and application of the agency’s quality standards, including the qualifications of evaluators, quality controls against conflict of interest, monitoring, and verification of compliance.
The new approval program is separate from the USDE recognition process for domestic accrediting agencies. The AVMA council continues to work to comply with the requirements set out by the USDE this past year to maintain its recognition by the government.
Second, the council heard from the Council on Higher Education Accreditation that the COE’s interim report to CHEA was recently received with no change in the recognition status. CHEA is an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that grants formal recognition to accreditation bodies for higher education that meet rigorous standards. In 2012, the CHEA Committee on Recognition found the council in full compliance with all criteria and recommended that it be recognized for up to 10 more years—the maximum length of recognition. The next interim report is due in two years.
The Council on Education submits voluntarily to CHEA review as part of its program of continuous improvement. Recognition by CHEA “affirms that standards and processes of accrediting organizations are consistent with quality, improvement, and accountability expectations that CHEA has established.”
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