August 15, 2016


 Committee recommends COE remain a college accreditor

Posted July 27, 2016

A​n AVMA body that accredits veterinary colleges should retain federal recognition at least through December 2017, according to a federal advisory committee.

The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, which advises the Department of Education, published in June a report concluding that the AVMA Council on Education has addressed concerns sufficiently to retain recognition as the nation’s accreditor of veterinary colleges. The USDE renews accreditor recognition in five-year increments.

At the start of the 2012 renewal process, department staff identified issues that needed to be addressed. The council retained its recognition as an accreditor while addressing those issues, which included concerns about alleged conflicts of interest, education standards, communication, and acceptance of the council among educators and veterinarians.

The USDE will decide whether to accept the recommendation within 90 days of the committee’s June 22-24 meeting, according to an AVMA announcement.

The advisory committee’s report indicates COE members demonstrated that they had performed outreach to educators and veterinary practitioners and collected feedback showing wide acceptance of the COE’s standards, policies, procedures, and decisions. The COE members also provided evidence they are trained on avoiding conflicts of interest, as well as information on the removal of two members—one of whom has been reinstated. And they changed policies and procedures in part to define criteria for removals, the report states.

The COE members also clarified what criteria they use for evaluating student performance.

The report also describes 200-plus public comments sent to the USDE during the renewal process.

Most were form letters expressing opposition to continued recognition of the COE as an accreditor. Many comments expressed beliefs that the quality of veterinary medical education was declining, the COE had inconsistent accreditation standards and had accredited schools that did not meet standards, AVMA leaders had undue influence on accreditation decisions, and the COE should be independent.

The responses from the COE members, included in the advisory committee’s report, state that they have seen no evidence that education quality is declining or that any accredited schools are producing unqualified graduates, and they think a vocal minority within the veterinary profession opposes COE decisions.

They also argue that the COE acts as an independent body with autonomous authority to evaluate and accredit schools and sets its own policies and procedures. And they note that AVMA Board of Directors members are no longer allowed to observe site visits or maintain a liaison position on the COE.

The COE members allege in the report that economic and workforce concerns may be contributing to concerns about COE activities.  

Related JAVMA content:

Learning to listen (March 15, 2015)
What's at stake? (Feb. 15, 2013)