COE accreditation policies and procedures
Last update to this section: June 2022
3. Accreditation classifications and reporting requirements
3.1 Procedures and requirements
3.1.1 General procedures and reporting requirements
The AVMA COE will evaluate and assign a classification of accreditation to any college of veterinary medicine at the request of the dean of the college and the chief executive officer of the parent institution. The final evaluation of each college by the Council is determined by review of its total educational program, considering each college's stated objectives, the "Standards of an Accredited College of Veterinary Medicine", and the Council's procedures. The accreditation classifications are as follows:
Letter of Reasonable Assurance – This is a status awarded to developing colleges in the US and Canada. This recognition allows the College to pursue its plan for the veterinary program, and to admit students. Reasonable Assurance is not a pre-accreditation action, by the Council, and does not confer accreditation of any kind on a developing college.
Provisional Accreditation – This is a status awarded a developing college in the US and Canada that has been granted Reasonable Assurance after the College has admitted in its first class.
Accredited – This is an accreditation status that is granted to a college that has no deficiencies in any of the Standards. This is awarded for a maximum of 7 years, with interim reporting required.
Accredited with Minor Deficiency(ies) – This is an accredited status for a College that has one or more minor deficiencies in one or more of the Standards of Accreditation, and/or that has not materially complied with the Council procedures and/or directives. Minor deficiencies have minimal or no effect on student learning and safety and are readily corrected in one year. The deficiency or deficiencies must be resolved within one year to avoid a change in accreditation status.
Probationary Accreditation - This is an accredited status for a College that has one or more major deficiencies in one or more Standards, and/or that has not materially complied with the Council procedures and/or directives. Major deficiencies have more than minimal impact on student learning and safety. The deficiency or deficiencies must be resolved within two years.
Terminal Accreditation - This is an accredited status for a College that has not resolved deficiencies within the time allotted, and/or that has not materially complied with the Council procedures and/or directives. Terminal accreditation also can be assigned if the COE feels it is warranted based on information received.
The accreditation procedure consists of the following:
- Receipt of written request for accreditation.
- COE review of request and agreement to further consider the college for accreditation.
- Receipt and review of appropriate reports submitted by the college.
- A consultative site visit to determine readiness for full consideration.
- A report to the college identifying any deficiencies in meeting the Standards of Accreditation.
- Correction of identified deficiencies and request for full consideration.
- A comprehensive site visit to the college.
- Preparation of a report of evaluation by the site visit team.
- Review of the evaluation report by the full Council on Education.
- Assignment by the full Council of a classification of accreditation.
- Interim reports including any changes to the application of Standards – annually for accredited schools, and every six months for those provisionally accredited, granted Reasonable Assurance, on probationary accreditation, or accredited with minor deficiencies.
- Reevaluation (self-study and comprehensive site visit) at intervals of no more than seven years or after any major change. Interim or focused site visits may be required at Council discretion.
- Upon written notification, a college may postpone or cancel a scheduled accreditation site visit or may withdraw from the accreditation process at any time.
The Council will publish a list of all accredited colleges after every Council meeting, including the classification of each and the date of last evaluation. A college may withdraw its request for initial accreditation at any time prior to the final action by the Council.
Procedures for reaffirming, changing, revoking, or reinstating accreditation status are similar to steps 'b' through 'i' above. The COE will determine whether a consultative visit is required. Accreditation will be withheld only for cause, after review, or when a college does not permit reevaluation after notice.
Decisions on granting Reasonable Assurance, Provisional Accreditation, or Accredited status for site visits that occurred less than 90 days prior to the next scheduled COE meeting will usually be deferred to the following meeting.
3.2 US and Canadian colleges
3.2.1 Requesting a Letter of Reasonable Assurance
Upon request, the Council will consider evaluation of an existing, proposed, or newly established college. The Council and/or staff offers reasonable consultation to any college concerning accreditation. A proposed US or Canadian veterinary college seeking a Letter of Reasonable Assurance must request consultation and advice on planning, including a request for a consultative site visit. A formal letter of application from the dean and/or chief administrative institutional officer must be submitted to the AVMA Council on Education to begin the process of obtaining a Letter of Reasonable Assurance. A veterinary college is considered eligible to apply for a Letter of Reasonable Assurance if the parent institution:
- Is accredited by a regional or national institutional accrediting body recognized by the USDE (in Canada the institution must be recognized by the appropriate federal or provincial body),
- Is legally recognized by the government (national, state, province or other government as appropriate for the location), and is authorized by that government to develop a program that will confer a professional degree, and
- Employs a veterinarian as dean or chief executive officer of the college of veterinary medicine on a full-time basis.
If the initial eligibility criteria are met, the college will be asked to submit a self-study document as outlined in the Accreditation Policies and Procedures of the AVMA Council on Education manual (most recent edition) that addresses each Standard. Through its self-study, the college must describe business and educational plans for complying with the Standards. Programs must address each Standard by carefully describing how compliance with that standard will be ensured. The self-study describing the college's plans to comply with the Standards must be submitted no less than 8 weeks prior to the consultative site visit. The self-study document and information gained on site during the subsequent consultative visit are the basis for identifying any deficiencies in the college's plan that might preclude meeting the Standards for Accreditation. If the initial eligibility requirements are not met, as determined by the COE, the college will be denied further consideration. Denial of an application based on failure to meet AVMA-COE initial eligibility criteria is not appealable.
A fee will be charged for a consultative site visit. The consultative site team is composed of COE site visitors and staff who provide an unofficial appraisal of the program as related to planned compliance with the Standards. The Council reviews the report and makes no accreditation action. All expenses for the consultative site visit are paid by the proposed college.
The college can submit a request for a comprehensive visit with evidence that deficiencies identified in the consultative visit report have been addressed. A fee will be assessed for the comprehensive site visit. Once the request has been approved by the COE, a comprehensive visit will be conducted essentially the same as evaluations for established accredited programs. The self-study report, the site visit, and the report of evaluation provide evidence as to the likelihood that the College can comply with the Standards based on plans and existing resources such as budget, facilities, faculty, and administration. A Reasonable Assurance evaluation is based on planned action and preliminary arrangements so long as the Council deems the implementation of such planned actions to be reasonable, pragmatic, and feasible within an appropriate time frame. The COE will consider the report and vote to grant or deny Reasonable Assurance. The college must not recruit or advertise for students, solicit or collect application fees, collect applicant information, or otherwise initiate the admissions process until after Reasonable Assurance is granted.
Once a college is granted Reasonable Assurance, a liaison committee will be appointed by the COE chair. The committee will be composed of up to four COE members. This committee is charged with creating and maintaining a direct line of communication between the COE and the College. The liaison committee will present biannual reports at COE meetings. Members of the liaison committee will not make motions or vote in accreditation actions regarding the college.
A college that fails to be granted Reasonable Assurance following an evaluation by the COE may not apply for reconsideration for 12 months after the date of the Council's final decision.
A college granted Reasonable Assurance must offer admission to and matriculate its first class of students within three years. Reasonable Assurance does not confer accreditation of any kind on a developing college. Reasonable Assurance may be continued by the Council for a maximum of three years based on progress documented in writing twice a year (see Section 4.3.1 Appendix J - Biannual Report Guidelines). In particular, changes in business or educational plans must be addressed in detail in these biannual reports.
A college that delays offering admission to and matriculating its first class beyond three years must submit a new formal letter of application to the AVMA COE. The COE will determine whether a consultative visit is required.
Modifications from the original plan submitted, including, but not limited to, increasing enrollment, cannot be made without COE approval, or until the college has achieved accredited status and outcomes from the first graduating class one year after graduation have been analyzed and reported to the COE. If a developing institution granted Reasonable Assurance fails to continue to demonstrate that its plan to develop its program will comply with the Standards, or if the program significantly changes its plan including, but not limited to, substantive changes as outline in Section 3.3, the Council may take action, including, but not limited to, withdrawing the classification of Reasonable Assurance. An interim or focused site visit can be conducted at any point at the Council's discretion.
3.2.2 Provisional accreditation – Progress report requirements
Provisional Accreditation will be granted to a college on the date the initial class matriculates. Following the granting of Provisional Accreditation status and during the first semester of the second year of the initial class matriculation, a comprehensive site visit will be conducted to determine whether the program is making progress in complying with the Standards. The Report of Evaluation from that site visit will describe and identify compliance and/or non-compliance with each Standard at the time of the site visit. If the Council determines that deficiencies are severe and compliance with the Standards is unlikely, the college may be placed on Terminal Accreditation. If the Council determines that the program is making reasonable progress in complying with the Standards, Provisional Accreditation may be continued.
An interim or focused site visit may be conducted at any time during the developmental period (i.e., period of granting Reasonable Assurance to granting Accredited status) at the Council's discretion. A comprehensive site visit is conducted during the second half of the final year of the first matriculated class. If the Council determines that the college is in compliance with each Standard, Accredited status will be granted. To achieve initial Accredited status, the school must have no minor or major deficiencies. A provisionally accredited college must achieve accredited status within five years. If the Council determines the college does not comply with the Standards, and the College has been provisionally accredited for less than 5 years, provisional accreditation status may be continued. If the Council determines the college does not comply with the Standards, the college may be placed on Terminal Accreditation if it has been provisionally accredited for five years. Colleges placed on Terminal Accreditation are required to follow the COE procedures for Terminal Accreditation status, thereby protecting the interests of enrolled students.
Provisionally accredited college must submit reports to the Council in writing twice a year (see Section 4.3.1 Appendix J - Biannual Report Guidelines).
Reasonable Assurance or Provisional Accreditation status may be withdrawn at any time during the developmental period if the Council determines the college is unlikely to comply with a Standard(s). In the latter case (withdrawal of Provisional Accreditation status), the college may be placed on Terminal Accreditation.
If the Council notes deficiencies that may result in an adverse accreditation action, the Council will defer the accreditation action and will provide the college an opportunity to respond in writing to the deficiency or deficiencies. If the Council takes an adverse accreditation action after the college has had the opportunity to respond, then the college will be reminded of the appeal process as outlined in Section 2.5.4 Appeal Procedures for Adverse Outcomes.
3.2.3. Accreditation – Annual Interim Report and Progress Report requirements (Section 4.3.2 Appendix K - Annual Interim Report Guidelines)
The Council requires an annual interim report from each college with Accredited status except when a site visit has been conducted less than six months previously, or when a site visit is planned to occur in the first six months of the following year. Colleges that are Accredited with Minor Deficiencies, Probationary Accreditation, or Terminal Accreditation status are required to submit Progress Reports every six months. The report should describe any recent or anticipated changes and the progress made in responding to identified deficiencies and previous Council recommendations. When an accredited college plans fundamental changes in administration, organization, association with the parent institution, curriculum, faculty, increased enrollment, instructional program, or stated objectives, the Council must be given an opportunity to review the proposed change prior to adoption (see Section 3.4 Substantive Change Reporting Requirements). Student suggestions, comments, and complaints received by the college regarding the college's compliance with the Standards of Accreditation must accompany the annual interim report or progress report.
Individual members of the Council are assigned a specific report(s) for an in-depth review and are required to prepare a draft written summary of the findings. The assigned individual leads Council discussion of the report and his/her summary (included in the COE meeting agenda), and makes a recommendation on the accreditation status of the college. When all issues arising from the annual interim report or progress report have been discussed, the Council votes (a majority is required) on extending the current accreditation status, changing the accreditation status because previously identified deficiencies have been resolved, or assigning Accredited with Minor Deficiencies or Probationary Accreditation. If the Council votes to change the accreditation status, with or without comment, staff will notify the college in writing within 30 days. Comments, however, are included in the transmission letter when appropriate. If the Council notes deficiencies that may result in an adverse accreditation action, the Council will defer the accreditation action and will provide the college with an opportunity to respond in writing pursuant to policies in this manual (Section 2.5.1). If the Council changes the accreditation status after the college has had the opportunity to respond, then the college will be reminded of the appeal process.
The COE understands that some data are not collected annually. Data should be reported when they become available. Data requested in the annual interim reports should be collected no less than two to three times during the seven-year accreditation cycle.
3.2.4. Re-accreditation procedures
To maintain accreditation, veterinary colleges must provide an extensive self-evaluation and arrange for a site visit at intervals of not more than seven years. More frequent site visits are scheduled for colleges with Probationary and Provisional Accreditation. The Council reserves the right to schedule site visits on a more frequent basis if information of concern is provided in an interim report, or in response to complaints received by the COE regarding the college. See Section 2 for a description of requirements for the self-study and site visit.
3.2.5 Accredited - with minor deficiencies
A college that has one or more minor deficiencies in one or more of the Standards of Accreditation will be assigned the status of Accredited with Minor Deficiencies. Minor deficiencies have minimal or no effect on student learning or safety; nevertheless, warrant being corrected for the program to be in full compliance with the Standards. Accreditation with Minor Deficiency(ies) is not considered an adverse outcome by the COE, and is therefore not appealable. Minor deficiencies must be corrected in one year to avoid a change in accreditation status. The college is required to submit a plan to the COE within 30 days of the status notification (30-Day Plan). The plan must outline steps to correct the deficiencies and provide a timetable for completion. Progress reports are required prior to every biannual meeting by the deadline stipulated by the COE, one being the annual interim report. If, at the end of one year, the college provides evidence that the deficiencies have been corrected, the college may be granted Accredited status for the remainder of the accreditation cycle. If minor deficiencies are not corrected within one year, the college will be placed on Probationary Accreditation for one additional year.
3.2.6 Probationary accreditation
A college that has one or more major deficiencies in one or more Standards will be placed on Probationary Accreditation. Major deficiencies have more than minimal impact on student learning or safety. These deficiencies must be corrected in two years from the date of the letter notifying the college of Probationary Accreditation. Probationary Accreditation is not considered an adverse decision by the COE, so is not appealable. The college is required to submit a plan to the COE within 30 days of the status notification. The plan outlines steps to correct deficiencies and provides a timetable for completion. Progress reports to the COE are required prior to every biannual meeting by the deadline stipulated, one being the annual interim report.
If deficiencies have been corrected within the two-year period, and there is evidence to support full compliance, the college may be granted Accredited status for the remainder of the accreditation cycle. A college that fails to correct minor deficiencies during one additional year while on Probationary status, or fails to correct major deficiencies within two years, will be placed on Terminal Accreditation unless an Extension for Good Cause for up to one year is granted, or pending an appeal.
During the period of Probationary Accreditation, the Council may appoint a team to visit the college to report on the progress toward accredited status. When time is necessary to correct deficiencies (e.g., construction or major renovation of physical facilities), and if the college has presented evidence that it is making acceptable progress toward accredited status at the end of two years, Probationary Accreditation may be extended for good cause for up to one year.
A good cause extension may be granted if the college has implemented a remediation plan and can demonstrate that enough progress has been made to complete the plan within one year. The college also must provide evidence that factors negatively impacting student safety or learning have been mitigated during remediation. Examples of justifications for good cause extension are ongoing construction projects that can be completed within one year, or curricular changes based on outcome assessment analysis that are in progress but will be completed within one year.
A Letter of Intent to Place on Terminal Accreditation is an official letter from the COE warning the college that the accreditation status may move to Terminal Accreditation if the correction of deficiencies is not completed in the time specified. The letter is sent to the college in the 18th month of Probationary Accreditation. This is not an accreditation status.
At the end of the 2-year assigned period of Probationary Accreditation, or earlier at the request of the college, the Council will conduct an evaluation to determine the compliance of the college with the Standard in question. This evaluation may include a site visit, at the Council's discretion. On the basis of this evaluation the Council must make one of the following determinations:
- Award Accredited status for the remainder of the accreditation period
- Continue Probationary Accreditation for good cause, or
- Assign Terminal Accreditation following written due process, or
- Withdraw accreditation (in the case of accredited colleges outside the US and Canada)
3.2.7 Terminal accreditation
A college in the US or Canada that is unable to correct deficiencies within the specified time period will be placed on Terminal Accreditation status. The Council also may withdraw accreditation from a college when evidence indicates that the number or severity of deficiencies in the program cannot be corrected before the admission of the next first-year class. Terminal accreditation is an adverse accreditation decision. Due process will be initiated prior to a final decision.
Colleges that close voluntarily also will be placed on Terminal accreditation. The college must notify the Council and follow the procedures for colleges with the classification of Terminal Accreditation.
The following procedures for colleges with the classification of Terminal Accreditation must be followed to protect the interests of enrolled students. These procedures are intended to protect enrolled students from the disadvantage of graduating from a non-accredited college and may continue no longer than necessary to protect the educational interests of such students. The dean of the college and the president of the university are notified immediately in writing of the classification status and the rationale for the decision. Not later than 30 days after the date of receipt of the final report, the college may respond in writing to the specific deficiencies. If the Council confirms its decision of Terminal Accreditation after reviewing the college's response, the decision is finalized. The college will be informed in writing within 5 business days of the decision being made. The college may initiate appeal proceedings as described in Section 2.5.4. During the first six months after the assignment of terminal accreditation, the college will submit a detailed plan describing how it will ensure that the educational interests of currently enrolled students will be met. In January of each year that the college holds terminal accreditation status, the college will provide a detailed report to the Council on Education describing how the plan is being followed and how it has been altered with respect to students who entered when the program held accredited, accredited with minor deficiencies, or probationary accreditation status.
To maintain terminal accreditation status, the college must: immediately cease enrollment of additional students; commit adequate resources to complete the education of currently enrolled students; and ensure that deficiencies cited do not worsen. During a period of terminal accreditation, representatives from the COE will visit the college annually and report on whether the college is meeting the conditions for terminal accreditation as stated above. The COE visit report and information furnished in writing by the college will be considered by the Council to determine if terminal accreditation should continue. Following a period of terminal accreditation, the classification of Accreditation Withheld will be assigned.
The Council is receptive to a request by any accredited college to be evaluated for reaccreditation at less than the maximum established interval for any reason, such as the coordination of self-evaluation reports and site visits required by other agencies. Such requests are honored at the Council's discretion, taking into account other factors including the Council's prior commitments to other colleges.
A college with an accredited status other than Terminal Accreditation may request a reevaluation at any time for reasons of reclassification. The procedures described for reevaluation in section 2.5.3 must be followed.
A college with Terminal Accreditation status may request reevaluation. The request will be considered by the COE if the college can provide evidence that the deficiency(ies) resulting in the Terminal Accreditation status has(have) been resolved. The COE will determine what additional reports will be required and whether a site visit is necessary as part of the reevaluation. The request and process for reevaluation will not alter the original terms of terminal accreditation.
3.3 Colleges outside the US and Canada
3.3.1 Procedures for existing colleges
The expressed desire of veterinary colleges outside the US and Canada for input and evaluation of their programs by the AVMA COE is in recognition of the high standards of veterinary medical education embodied in the Standards for Accreditation. It is further recognition that the AVMA COE plays a significant role in setting the standards for international veterinary education. Should a college outside of the US decide to challenge in a court of law an adverse accreditation decision made by the COE, the filing must be done in a US court of competent jurisdiction seated in Illinois.
The COE believes that accrediting veterinary colleges outside of the US and Canada supports and encourages the achievement of high standards of veterinary medical education worldwide, thus improving animal and human health. It is the objective of the AVMA COE that each graduate of an accredited college of veterinary medicine is firmly based in the fundamental principles, scientific knowledge, and physical and mental skills of veterinary medicine.
To initiate the process for a college outside the US and Canada to be accredited, a written request must be received by the AVMA COE from the dean of the college and the president/provost of the university. The Council and staff respond to all inquiries regarding accreditation, and provide the Accreditation Policies and Procedures of the AVMA Council on Education to colleges requesting such information.
Accreditation is voluntary; the AVMA COE does not solicit applications. AVMA COE accredited and provisionally accredited US and Canadian colleges, and AVMA COE accredited colleges outside the US and Canada will be given site visit scheduling priority over nonaccredited institutions outside the US and Canada seeking accreditation. Guidelines for site visits to colleges outside the US and Canada are contained in the COE Policies and Procedures manual, which is revised annually. The COE consults with existing accreditation and licensing agencies in countries holding/seeking international accreditation.
The Council reserves the right to deny a request for a site visit to a college in a country where conditions exist that might place the safety of site team members at risk. The judgment of the Council will prevail in such decisions.
The cumulative number of all site visits (US, Canadian, and outside the US and Canada) in a 12-month period shall not exceed 12, so all requests may not be met in a given year. If a college outside the US and Canada is denied initial accreditation, the institution will not be re-evaluated for a period of at least two years. Assurance with documentation must be provided to the Council that deficiencies have been corrected before re-evaluation will be considered.
Although cultural diversity is recognized, the Standards of Accreditation are applied in the same manner for all institutions in the accreditation process.
Language is not considered a barrier to accreditation; however, all matters and information related to the accreditation process must be in English. Accredited colleges that do not conduct all instruction in English are considered to produce graduates whose English language skills are unknown to the COE. State boards of veterinary medicine in the US and Canada (provinces) will be notified of this fact as appropriate.
Initial or continued accreditation of a veterinary school/college outside the US and Canada will be contingent upon that school/college's demonstrating it has made its best efforts to encourage the licensing authority of that country to:
- recognize graduates of U.S. and Canadian AVMA COE-accredited veterinary colleges as having met equivalent educational standards as graduates of the AVMA COE-accredited veterinary college in the country of that licensing body, and;
- to confer licenses to graduates of AVMA COE-accredited U.S. and Canadian veterinary colleges that are identical to those given to graduates of that country's AVMA COE-accredited veterinary college by a licensing process no more rigorous than that required of graduates of that AVMA COE-accredited veterinary college in that country.
There are a number of methods through which the AVMA COE can assist in the improvement of education and/or accreditation of veterinary colleges outside the US and Canada including:
- The provision of copies of the Standards used for accrediting US and Canadian programs.
- A consultative site visit to evaluate a college's preparedness for accreditation. If a college seeks AVMA COE accreditation, a consultative site visit and appraisal of the program must be conducted. The site visit is conducted at a time to avoid conflict with previously scheduled site visits.
- A comprehensive site visit for accreditation and recognition of the program. The site visit and evaluation are conducted using the same processes as employed for US and Canadian colleges. The evaluation is conducted only at the convenience of the Council and site visitors.
- COE accreditation of a veterinary college outside the US and Canada confirms that the program complies with the AVMA COE Standards of Accreditation. Accreditation is not an endorsement that replaces or overrides international rules and regulations or state, provincial, and national licensing and practice act guidelines.
Veterinary colleges outside the US and Canada may seek accreditation status from the AVMA COE through the procedures established by the COE. Accreditation may be of value to colleges for purposes of recognition of program quality and/or as a means to assist graduates who choose to practice veterinary medicine in the US. Throughout the process of seeking AVMA COE accreditation status, the Accreditation Policies and Procedures of the AVMA Council on Education manual will serve as the basis for all procedures and decisions. Standard requirements described in the manual will be applied to all programs seeking accreditation. The Council will acknowledge social, cultural, and educational diversity in a fair and equitable manner; but veterinary medical education program quality as measured by the Standards is non-negotiable.
Site visits are initiated by the college seeking or renewing accreditation. In cases where conditions at an accredited college have changed dramatically, jeopardizing the institution's ability to meet the Standards as noted in an annual report, or when third party comments or other applicable information (as determined by the Council) are received from faculty, students, staff, or the public, the Council may conduct a focused or comprehensive site visit to determine whether the conditions or reports have validity that might negatively impact the accreditation status of the college. The AVMA COE has no process to assist developing colleges outside the US and Canada. Accreditation may be sought only by established colleges outside the US and Canada. An established college is defined as a program that has 5 years of outcome data on its graduates.
Three types of site visits may be conducted by the COE: Consultative, Comprehensive, and Focused.
Consultative – If an established veterinary medical college outside the US and Canada desires consultation and advice on its readiness for attaining accreditation status, the college must request a consultative site visit. The consultative site visit team is composed of COE site team visitors and staff who provide an unofficial appraisal of the program as related to compliance with the standards. A college outside the US and Canada seeking accreditation status must provide the COE with five copies of a video (digital format) detailing the physical facilities and educational programs of the college. The video is limited to 30 minutes duration and shall be provided to the COE at the time the self-study is submitted. The college must submit a detailed self-study report 12 weeks in advance of the site visit (if the self-study does not arrive at least 12 weeks prior to the first day of the scheduled site visit, the site visit may be cancelled or rescheduled to a later date). After the visit, the COE will provide an unofficial written report of evaluation noting the readiness for a comprehensive site visit.
As a college is seeking initial accreditation and a consultative site visit has been scheduled, two COE reviewers will be assigned to conduct a pre-review of the self-study. The COE reviewers, consultative site team, and chair of the COE Evaluation Committee, in consultation with COE staff, will review the self-study and determine if the college appears to meet all or most of the Standards. In the event it is believed that the college falls short of meeting one or more Standards, a consultative site visit may not be conducted, and the college will be notified of the perceived deficiencies.
A site team composed of three experienced COE site visitors appointed by the Chair of the Evaluation Committee (Canadian COE site visitors may be considered when selecting a site visit team) and one staff member will conduct the consultative site visit. In addition, the team will be accompanied by one or two current COE member(s) (non-voting observers). The consultation generally takes three to four days.
Appropriate college personnel and the site team chair will prepare an agenda that includes evaluation of all areas of the program.
The report from the consultative site visit is the responsibility of the team chair and consists of the following sections:
- Section I – an introductory paragraph providing the name and location of the college, the identity of the chief academic officer of the college and of the parent institution, and a brief history of the college.
- Section II – the eleven Standards of Accreditation and a short description of perceived deficiencies.
- Section III – program strengths in numerical order, without priority.
- Section IV – an appraisal of the preparedness of the college for a comprehensive site visit.
- Section V – other comments that may assist the college in improving its self-study, designing the agenda for the site visit, or other matters.
The report is based upon the evaluations of the site team and is not approved by the COE. Questions from the COE related to the report should be directed to the COE reviewers assigned to conduct a pre-review of the self-study and the post-site visit report, who will report the findings from the consultative site visit team, as information only, to the Council during the next regularly scheduled meeting. The report will be sent to the college within 30 days of the meeting when the COE acknowledged receipt of the report.
No further action is taken by the COE following a consultative site visit. If the identified deficiencies are corrected the college can submit a formal request for a comprehensive visit. If the COE determines that the college has provided evidence that deficiencies identified in the consultative site visit report have been corrected, a comprehensive site visit will be conducted. The procedure followed is identical to that for evaluation of US and Canadian colleges. COE site visitors may not serve on both the consultative and comprehensive site visit teams for veterinary colleges outside the US and Canada.
Consultation with an Accredited College – An accredited college outside the US and Canada may request consultation from the COE by inviting a consultative site team to visit the college. A request should focus on a specific item(s) wherein the college wishes consultation. The consultative team's response is not an official recommendation from the COE.
Comprehensive – After receipt of the COE's consultative report and the submission of a detailed response to all points raised by the consultative site team, an established veterinary medical college outside the US and Canada seeking accreditation may request a comprehensive site visit. The process for the comprehensive visit is the same as for a US or Canadian college (see Section 2.3). The application for a comprehensive site visit by the COE must occur within three years of the consultative site visit. If the COE does not receive such application within the three-year period, the college must wait an additional two years (five years since the consultative visit) before reapplying. To achieve initial Accredited status, the school must have no minor or major deficiencies.
Focused – A focused site visit can be requested by an AVMA COE accredited veterinary college outside the US and Canada, or be initiated by the COE based upon the contents of the college annual interim report or third party (faculty, student, or public) comment. The focused site visit is usually conducted by one or two COE site visitors, one of whom served on the original comprehensive site visit team. The college is requested to provide information regarding the concerns prompting the site visit; the COE will assign an accreditation status based upon evaluation of compliance with the Standards.
Visits to veterinary colleges outside the US and Canada may require slight alterations in several areas of standard operating procedure, but not in interpreting or judging compliance with the Standards.
Each AVMA COE accredited veterinary college outside the US and Canada is required to provide an annual interim report to the AVMA COE. This report is used to assess its progress and to identify major changes in the college or its support units regarding the Standards.
All correspondence and conversation with the AVMA, including the self-study document, must be in English. If any portion of the veterinary educational program is conducted in a language other than English, the AVMA COE may employ a translator of its choosing. The cost of the translation will be charged to the college.
In summary, all matters pertaining to accreditation of veterinary colleges outside the US and Canada are presented in the Accreditation Policies and Procedures of the AVMA Council on Education manual. This document is adhered to as the COE assesses the progress of the college in meeting the standards.
All costs for site visitors are paid by the college seeking accreditation or continuation of such status. Additional fees are charged for consultative site visits and the initial comprehensive site visit. The cost associated with the time commitment of site team members is not assessed.
An annual administrative fee is charged to recover direct and indirect costs associated with the accreditation of all veterinary schools including charges for personnel, office space, communication, materials and supplies, and legal and business office support. Sixty days before arrangements are made for any visit or consideration of the annual report to evaluate the accreditation status of the college, the annual fee must be current, and the college requesting the visit must confirm in writing its commitment to pay all associated costs for the site visit team. No Honoria site team members are reimbursed for their expenses, but no honorariums are paid.
Failure to pay any fee indicates a desire to discontinue the accreditation process. If payment is not received within 60 days of the time indicated, the process will be discontinued, and accreditation status withdrawn.
The administrative fees are reviewed annually and subject to change based upon the rate of US inflation and/or other factors.
The Council is receptive to a request by any accredited college to be evaluated for reaccreditation at less than the maximum established interval for any reason, such as the coordination of self-evaluation reports and site visits required by other agencies. Such requests are honored at the Council's discretion, taking into account other factors including the Council's prior commitments to other colleges.
3.3.2 Procedures for developing colleges outside the US and Canada
The Council has no mechanism for providing assistance to developing colleges outside the US or Canada. The Reasonable Assurance process and Provisional Accreditation status are limited to US and Canadian veterinary colleges.
3.4 Substantive change reporting requirements
3.4.1 Reporting substantive change
The COE must be notified, and the COE must grant approval, prior to implementation of any substantive changes in the program at an accredited college. Approval of substantive changes is at the discretion of the COE based upon the information received and continued compliance with the Standards. A site visit may be required to verify that the reported substantive changes do not negatively impact the college's compliance with any or all of the Standards of Accreditation.
Examples of substantive changes that must be reported to and approved by the COE prior to implementation include, but are not limited to:
- Any change in the established mission or objective of the college.
- Any change in the organizational structure, legal status, form of control, or ownership of the college.
- The addition of courses or programs that represent a significant departure, in either content or method of delivery, from those that were offered when the COE last evaluated the institution.
- A change in the clock hours (student contact hours) to credit hours ratio.
- A substantial change in the number of clock hours (student contact hours) or credit hours awarded for successful completion of the program.
- The establishment of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution offers at least 25 percent of the entire professional program.
- The establishment of an additional location(s) geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution will offer required pre-clinical or clinical educational experiences, and it is expected that the added site will be attended by 10% or more of the students per class within any given year.
- The establishment of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution will offer an educational experience in which it is expected that 25 percent or more of any class (including students from all sources) will participate.
- The establishment of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution offers an educational experience in which 25 percent or more of any class is enrolled.
- An anticipated entering class size change of 10 percent or more students from the last approved request or the most recent accreditation site visit.
- An anticipated increase in the number of students managed within any year of the veterinary medical program, including students from other institutions, that: 1) will result in an increase of 10% or more in the number of students within any year of the program over the previous year, or 2) will result in more than a 10% increase over the previous year in the number of students within any year of the program being from other institutions.
- A cumulative increase of 15% or more over 5 years in the total number of students in the veterinary program, including students from other institutions who participate in any phase of the veterinary education program.
If a college fails to notify the COE of a substantive change and receive approval prior to implementing such change, the COE will conduct a thorough review to ensure continued compliance with the Standards. This review may include a focused site visit. If the COE determines that the college is not in compliance with one or more Standards as a result of the substantive change, the college's accreditation status may be changed.
3.5 Other reporting requirements
3.5.1 Council reports to the public
The COE provides written notice of its accrediting decisions to the USDE, appropriate state licensing or authorizing agency, appropriate accrediting agencies, and the public according to the following requirements of the USDE:
- Within 30 days:
- A decision to renew or to award initial accreditation or pre-accreditation to a veterinary college
- At the same time the school is notified, but no later than 30 days after the decision:
- A final decision to place a college on probationary accreditation
- A final decision to deny, withdraw, suspend, revoke, or terminate the accreditation or pre-accreditation of a veterinary college
The USDE and appropriate state licensing or authorizing agency will be notified by letters sent electronically or by mail. Accrediting agencies are notified by posting written notice on appropriate listserv for regional and programmatic accreditors. All public notification is provided in the public area of the AVMA website and will include the date of the COE meeting the decision was made. This is done within 24 hours of notifying the program for (B) (1) and (2).
Not later than 60 days after any final decision to deny, withdraw, suspend, revoke, or terminate the accreditation or pre-accreditation of a veterinary college, the COE will notify the USDE, state and other authorizing agencies, and public with a brief statement summarizing the reasons for the agency's decision and the official comments that the affected college may wish to make with regard to that decision, or evidence that the affected college has been offered the opportunity to provide official comment.
The COE will provide written notice to the USDE, appropriate state licensing or authorizing agency, appropriate accrediting agencies, and upon request, the public if:
- A college decides to withdraw voluntarily from accreditation or pre-accreditation, within 10 business days of receiving notification from the college that it is withdrawing voluntarily from accreditation or pre-accreditation; or
- Lets its accreditation or pre-accreditation lapse, within 10 business days of the date on which accreditation or pre-accreditation lapses.
Information related to currently accredited veterinary medical colleges, the accreditation status, and the date of the next accreditation or pre-accreditation site visit is published on the area of the AVMA website (at www.avma.org) that is accessible to the public. Any member of the public can submit input to the COE about a College's compliance with the Standards. The COE Policies and Procedures Manual also is accessible to the public on the AVMA website.
3.5.2 Reports to the public from colleges
When the accreditation decision is finalized, each college of veterinary medicine must notify the public of its performance in educating veterinarians by posting on its website 1)the accreditor (AVMA COE) accreditation status of the college, and the date of the next site visit; 2) if probationary accreditation has been assigned, the college must publish an explanation for non-compliance and an evaluation of the impact of non-compliance on the enrolled students within seven business days; 3) the NAVLE pass rate for the college compared to the pass rate required by the COE Standard for Outcomes Assessment (currently 80%); and 4) any other outcomes information that the college feels would educate the public regarding the quality of education at the specific institution. Information released to the public must be readily accessible. The information released to the public must be sent to the COE for verification in the annual interim report of each college.
3.5.3 Council response to reports from outside sources
From time to time, the Council is provided with liaison, progress, information, and other reports from colleges or other groups. Such reports may be: 1) received, 2) accepted, or 3) rejected.
Received – The Council studies the report but does not agree or disagree with the content. The Council may or may not choose to respond to the submitter of the report and may choose to forward the report to another entity.
Accepted – The Council studies the report, and accepts the report as written. The Council notifies the submitter of the report stating its action. Acceptance of a report by the Council does not mean that the report becomes the policy of the Council, unless specifically so determined and stated by the Council in its minutes.
Rejected – the Council studies the report, disagrees with the report, in part or in full, and rejects the report. The Council notifies the submitter of the report stating its findings and its action.
3.5.4 NAVLE score reporting and review
The North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) assesses entry-level competency for licensure to practice veterinary medicine. The ICVA reports the scores to the COE for all accredited institutions without identifying the institutions individually, to promote confidentiality. Each institution reports 5 years of NAVLE results for its graduates in the annual interim report and in self-studies. The COE evaluates NAVLE results annually, by noting significant changes in scores and passing rates for individual institutions over time, and significant differences in scores or passing rates among graduates from different veterinary colleges. Decreasing scores may indicate a reduction in the adequacy of the Standards of Accreditation, while significant differences among graduates from different colleges may suggest the Standards are not relevant to all programs.
During the fall meeting the Academic Affairs Committee reviews the NAVLE results. Recommendations from this committee are used to assess the potential for needed changes in or application of the Standards. Processes are initiated by the COE to make necessary changes.