New Quality Standards Approved for Ontario’s Public Colleges

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In preparation for the transition from Quality Audits to Accreditation, the Management Board of the Ontario College Quality Assurance Service has approved a set of Quality Standards that set out the quality requirements colleges will meet to become accredited under the new process beginning in September of 2015.

These six Quality Standards have been developed from the current Quality Criteria used in the quality audit process that the OCQAS established and introduced for the colleges in 2006. Changes made to the initial quality criteria include the following:

  • While the essence of the criteria has been retained there has been a re-ordering and re-numbering of the criteria. The numbering is for ease of reference and does not imply any prioritization or weighting of significance.
  • The question of, “To what extend do your quality assurance processes ensure that the criteria are met?”, has been replaced by the expectation, from an evaluative point of view, that the Standards will be met. Meeting the Standard will be based on the evidence provided by the College against each of the Requirements listed.
  • The Requirements have been reviewed to remove duplication between Standards (Criteria) and to ensure relevancy with the Standard.

There is additional description of evidence in the introductory paragraph related to the Requirements. Specifically, reference is made to the fact that colleges are familiar with, and following current, accepted, evidence-based practices and research related to the quality of their programs and student learning, and have policies and practices in place that are consistent with this evidence and research.

Under the Accreditation process a college will have evidence to show they clearly meet all six of the Quality Standards in order to receive a decision of being fully accredited. Accreditation decisions taken with respect to the evidence presented will be as follows:

  • Full accreditation for Colleges meeting all six of the Standards
  • Conditional Accreditation for Colleges meeting four or five of the Standards
  • Non-Accreditation for Colleges meeting fewer than three of the Standards

The Accreditation cycle will remain with the current 5-year duration. Colleges who are Fully Accredited will be reviewed again after the five year term is expired. Colleges who are Conditionally Accredited will be required to provide an 18-month follow-up Report to the Management Board, the result of which will be key in determining a College’s ability to move from the Conditional Accreditation designation to Full Accreditation. Any College that receives a Non-Accreditation decision would be given specific recommendations and plans of action to encourage and facilitate moving the decision to a more desirable one (Conditional or Full). The period of time set for re-evaluation would be determined in relation to the amount of work deemed necessary for the College to achieve a different designation and would be no less than 18-months and no more than 36-months.

More information about the transition to the accreditation process will be available in the coming months.