Accreditation of degree courses

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IFST accredited degree course

IFST's degree accreditation scheme recognises relevant Bachelor and Masters degree programmes/courses for face-to-face and distance-learning students. Launched in February 2015, the scheme was developed in response to interest expressed by universities and institutions of higher education.

Food Science, Food Technology, Food and Nutrition and other similar degree programmes are multi-disciplinary courses which require, for example, a knowledge of chemistry, biochemistry, biology, microbiology, physiology, physics, engineering, maths & statistics, nutrition, economics and business processes. These subjects underpin the understanding of food and food systems, particularly in relation to the safety and wholesomeness of food during food production, transportation, processing, storage and retailing; they cover the continuum from primary production through to the consumer.

There are two time points each year for the receipt of applications for accreditation. These are 1 May and 1 November.

Initially the scheme is open to UK courses, but this is likely to be extended in future.

Benefits of accreditation

The accreditation of degree programmes/courses by a body such as IFST effectively provides a benchmark of the potential of a programme/course to ensure that students are offered the best possible food-related education; in the context of this accreditation “food-related” is used to refer to degrees related to food science and food technology. Hence, students are provided with the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to enter employment in education, academic and industrial research, innovation, food production, processing & retailing and the public sector within the broad context of food science and technology.

Accreditation is an assurance that the standards set by a profession are met. It is, thereby, a quality mark or quality standard that helps an accredited food science/ technology or related degree to stand out, in the eyes of potential students (and their parents) and food-sector employers, from other non-accredited programmes/courses. Hence, accreditation can provide advantages when students from an accredited degree programme are seeking employment in the food profession.

IFST will publish a list of accredited programmes/courses on its website. The university/school/department will be able to use an approved IFST logo in publicity to promote accredited degree(s). A university may wish to include an approved IFST logo on the degree certificate or parchment; if this is the case they should liaise directly with IFST.

Overview of the accreditation process

IFST accredits Bachelor and taught Masters’ courses. The accreditation applies to individual degrees and not to a department, school or university.

The process of accreditation is a peer-review process and is undertaken by an Accreditation Assessment Panel, consisting of three persons, including a convenor. The Panel is composed of experienced assessors drawn from academia and industry who have the knowledge, experience and expertise in the degree programme area and who are able to rigorously assess and judge the quality of the applications received. Panel members attend a training course before undertaking any assessments.

There are two time points each year for the receipt of applications for accreditation. These are 1 May and 1 November.

Applications are considered by the Accreditation Assessment Panel, on behalf of the Education & Careers Committee (ECC), and its recommendations are communicated by the Panel to the applicants and reported to the ECC. The Accreditation Assessment Panel normally aims to deal with applications within 4 months of submission date, but this may be longer depending on the numbers and complexity of the applications received.

Accreditation, once agreed, normally lasts for a period of 5 years unless there has been a major change in course content and/or structure which would require a course to be reassessed. After 5 years the department/school will be required to re-apply for accreditation. However, most universities have course reviews, which include outside panel members, every 4/5 years. Hence, it may be appropriate for the accreditation to apply until the next degree course review since this is the time point when structural or content changes to a programme are most likely to occur.

New courses in the first year of operation, will be granted provisional accreditation. This will normally be for one year, when universities will be asked to submit further information not available at launch. If satisfactory, the course will be granted full accreditation.  There will be no additional cost.

Accreditation is normally on the basis of the assessment of submitted evidence in the form of an application form and supporting documentary evidence. However, in any cases of doubt, IFST reserves the right to make a site visit (normally 1 day), if considered necessary.

 

 

Requirements for IFST accreditation
Outcome of the Accreditation Process

Following the assessment process programmes/courses will be classified as:

  • Accredited by IFST
  • Provisional accreditation(1)
  • Referred for further consideration (2)
  • Not accredited by IFST

(1) New courses in the first year of operation, will be granted provisional accreditation. This will normally be for one year, when universities will be asked to submit further information not available at launch. If satisfactory, the course will be granted full accreditation.  

(2) In the case of those referred for further consideration, the applying institutions will be told the areas where attention is required and permitted 6 months to submit further evidence to respond to the points made. This 6 month period will commence on the date that IFST informs the institution of the referral.

How to apply for IFST accreditation

There are two time points each year for the receipt of applications for accreditation. These are 1 May and 1 November.

You will need to provide a portfolio of supporting evidence to demonstrate that your course meets the stated requirements.  Your submission should include details of the course structure, entry requirements, Departmental/School/University infrastructure and course assessment.

Full details on how to apply for degree course accreditation

 

 

Confidentiality

IFST recognises that although some of the material submitted in support of an application will be in the public domain, other material is not and as such is confidential. IFST staff will treat all applications and accompanying material as confidential and IFST similarly requires the Chief Assessor and the Panel Assessors to maintain the same level of confidentiality and not divulge anything about the applications and material received outside the Accreditation Panel discussions.

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