Our degree accreditation scheme recognises relevant Bachelor and Masters degree programmes 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, and in response to the needs of the food sector.
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.
The scheme is open to UK courses but is likely to be extended in future.
Benefits of accreditation
Our accreditation of degree programmes/courses provides a benchmark of the potential of a programme/course to offer students 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. 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 a quality mark or 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. Accreditation can provide advantages when students from an accredited degree programme are seeking employment in the food sector.
We publish a list of accredited programmes. An accredited university/school/department is able to use an approved logo in publicity to promote accredited degree(s). A university may wish to include our approved logo on the degree certificate or parchment; if this is the case please liaise directly with us.
Overview of the accreditation process
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 assessors and overseen by a chief assessor. 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.
Applications are normally dealt with within four months of submission but this may be longer depending on the numbers and complexity of the applications received.
Accreditation, once agreed, normally lasts for a period of five years unless there has been a major change in course content and/or structure which would require a course to be reassessed. After five years the department/school is required to re-apply for accreditation. Most universities have course reviews, which include outside panel members, every four or five years so 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. Provisional accreditation will normally be for one year allowing universities to submit additional information not available at launch. If satisfactory, the course will be granted full accreditation. There is no additional assessment 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, we reserve the right to make a site visit (normally one day) if considered necessary.
How to apply for accreditation
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.
The IFST accreditation process examines evidence for specific key requirements including:
Entry requirements. Do students joining the programme/course have sound underpinning knowledge in subjects directly pertinent to the degree programme?
Breadth and depth of study. Does the programme/course provide graduates with a sufficient breadth of topics to enable them to competently evaluate the safety and quality of food and sufficient depth to enable them to identify appropriate strategies for its implementation, maintenance and/or improvement?
Development of practical skills. Does the programme/course provide opportunities for the development of a range of current and appropriate practical skills linked, in particular, to food science and food technology?
Development of research skills. Does the programme/course contain a significant research project in which the student undertakes detailed study of a topic requiring critical investigation of an issue?
Individual study and the development of transferable skills. Does the programme/course progressively develop a student’s ability to work as an individual, as part of a team and effectively use a range of transferable skills?
Work-based experience. Where the programme/course includes a work-based placement, does this complement the theory and practical elements of the programme/course and the point above?
Internal and external quality assurance. Is the programme/course subject to effective review by established procedures at both departmental and institutional level and is it subject to external review whether routinely or at periodic intervals?
Infrastructure to support effective teaching and learning. Do the students have access to appropriate physical resources (e.g. laboratories, pilot plant facilities, sensory evaluation units, library and other information facilities, IT facilities)?
Through the submission of written evidence applicants should be able to demonstrate how their degree programme(s)/course(s) meet these key requirements. This are judged through the peer-review accreditation assessment process. The requirements are subject to periodic review and open to change from time to time.
We recognise 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. We will treat all applications and accompanying material as confidential and we require 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.