U.S. Department of Education review of AVMA Council on Education underway

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The U.S. Department of Education's National Advisory Committee for Institutional Quality and Integrity has begun its periodic review of the AVMA Council on Education, the official accrediting agency for veterinary colleges.

NACIQI's main job is to vote to recommend to the education secretary whether the accrediting agencies it reviews, such as the COE, deserve the department's recognition. The Department of Education then determines whether to recognize those agencies as qualified to evaluate the education and training provided by higher education programs and to provide accreditation or pre-accreditation when appropriate.

Recognition must be renewed every five years.

At the start of the 2012 renewal process, department staff identified issues that needed to be addressed by the COE. 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 COE went before NACIQI again in 2014, and, on the basis of a USDE staff report, the advisory committee told the council it must continue working on these issues.

In response to input from the public and members of the veterinary community, the COE has made substantial changes in its policies and procedures in recent years. These include changes to how COE members are appointed and supported by the AVMA and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, as well as how site visits are conducted. Changes in accreditation standards, such as those pertaining to diversity, student wellness, and financial and debt management, have also been made by the COE in recent years. Plus, the council held a number of listening sessions at veterinary conferences.

In 2016, NACIQI recommended that the COE retain federal recognition at least through December 2017, which the USDE secretary approved. The five-year recognition renewal cycle restarted in 2018. The comment period ended Sept. 30.

A public hearing during which interested individuals will have an opportunity to provide oral comments will be held on Feb. 5, 2019, in the Washington, D.C., area. Additional information about registering for that event is available in the Sept. 4 Federal Register.

Related JAVMA content:

Committee recommends COE remain a college accreditor (Aug. 15, 2016)

Education council responds to feedback (March 15, 2016)

Past council decisions a continued source of debate (March 15, 2015)

Major changes the COE has made in the past few years (March 15, 2015)

AVMA hears calls to end accreditation role (March 15, 2015)

COE given more time to comply with USDE standards (Feb. 15, 2013)

What's at stake? (Feb. 15, 2013)