Accreditation of Degree Courses

IFST accredited degree course

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.

The scheme is open to courses in the UK and overseas. Non-UK programmes must be taught in English. 

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 are trained 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 completed an application form and 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. Please contact JoinUs@ifst.org for an application form.

Key requirements

The IFST accreditation process examines evidence for specific key requirements including:

  • For BSc programmes seeking accreditation, 50% of the content must be food-related, and for MSc programmes 80% of the content must be food-related.
  • 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 is judged through the peer-review accreditation assessment process. The requirements are subject to periodic review and open to change from time to time.

Accreditation Fees

Initial application

The cost of applying for the accreditation of a Bachelors or Masters degree is £2,678 for the first course submitted by a university then £2,142 per subsequent course(s). If approved the accreditation will last for 5 years. The results of the assessment will not be released until payment is received.

Annual renewal

There will be an annual accreditation maintenance fee of £161 and at this point the current Course Handbook should also be submitted. This annual accreditation maintenance will include the assessment of any programme/course changes during the accreditation period.

Five yearly renewal

After 5 years, or following a major change to the course structure and/or content, an application for renewal of accreditation (present fee: £2,678/£2,142) will be required. If necessary, what constitutes a major change in course structure and/or content may be determined in consultation with IFST. Applications for more than one similar degree courses at the same time, where there is some commonality of course structure and content, will attract a discount.

Request for Reconsideration of outcome & Appeals procedure

Reconsideration of outcome

An institution that has had an application for accreditation turned down may request that the decision be reconsidered. This request should be received, in writing, by IFST within one calendar month of the date of the decision.

Normally such a request may only be made on the following grounds:

  • information that may have influenced an accreditation decision, and which was not included in the application, has become available.
  • information in the application documentation was not properly taken into account.
  • the accreditation process was not properly carried out by IFST.

The request will be considered by the Accreditation Assessment Panel who will consider the grounds for the request against the procedure followed; in essence, this will be a reassessment of the accreditation application. The outcome, including the reasons for the outcome, will be communicated to the institution. If the institution accepts the outcome the matter will be considered resolved.

Appeals procedure

If the institution is not satisfied with the outcome, it may formally appeal the decision by writing to IFST, within a calendar month of receiving the decision, setting out the grounds of their dissatisfaction and asking for reconsideration.  A fee of £161 will be payable, which will be refunded should the appeal be successful.

The appeal will be considerd by an Appeal Panel set up by IFST which will be independent of the original Accreditation Assessment Panel. This Appeal Panel will reassess all of the information provided, including any supplementary evidence submitted by the appellant, and it can take evidence from the Accreditation Assessment Panel, to determine the processes followed and how decisions were reached. The Appeal Panel may uphold the original decision or ask the Accreditation Assessment Panel to reconsider its recommendation.

The outcome of the appeals process will be communicated back to the institution in writing.

There is no further right of appeal and no further correspondence will be entered into regarding the appeal.

Confidentiality

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.