overview and process
For education providers
Accreditation of higher education providers’ (HEP) psychology programs ensures the quality of the psychology profession, with a focus on public interest and public safety.
The process of accreditation involves comprehensively examining HEP and their programs of study against the relevant Accreditation Standards.
APAC works through the accreditation process in conjunction with the HEP and we base that process on a point in time self-assessment by the HEP of its programs, as well as peer-assessment by APAC’s assessors.
We aim to make this process as transparent as possible, with an overall aim of helping improve the quality of psychology education in Australia.
HEPs that offer qualifications in psychology can apply for accreditation. Cycle re-accreditation assessments are undertaken every five years, with out of cycle initial accreditation assessments undertaken as required at any point within the five year cyclical period.
The following accreditation status may be granted to a psychology program:
- re-/accreditation with or without conditions
- accreditation revoked
- accreditation expired
Any submission for accreditation of a new program of study which is unsuccessful in gaining re/accreditation with or without conditions, will have no accreditation status.
Cycle accreditation process
Program accreditation is the process of assessing whether a program of study meets the Accreditation Standards and produces graduates who have the knowledge, skills, and professional attributes to practice psychology safely and competently in Australia.
Every five years each HEP will go through a cycle re-accreditation assessment. The following timeline outlines the review process for that assessment.
Around 12 to 18 months before the site visit, APAC will reach out to HEPs whose accreditation is due to expire at the end of the following year. APAC will organise a time to conduct an information session which will provide the HEP all the necessary information to prepare for the re-accreditation assessment and upcoming site visit. All of the HEP’s staff members involved in the accreditation process are welcome to attend the information session.
Around nine to 12 months before the site visit, the HEP will need to submit a notification of intended application (NOIA) to APAC.
The NOIA should:
- confirm that the HEP will be making a submission for re-accreditation of the existing programs and accreditation of any intended new programs
- acknowledge that the submission for accreditation and all required documentation will be submitted by a date advised by APAC
- detail all programs to be assessed
- nominate potential dates most convenient for a site visit to be conducted
APAC will review the submission and if anything needs to be updated, we will contact you and work through changes as required. A tax invoice will also be issued for payment of the accreditation fee after review of NOIA for the programs of study and campuses to be assessed. Please visit the resources page to download a copy of the schedule of fees.
At least six months before the visit, APAC will send a confirmation letter to the HEP. The letter will detail the composition of the Assessment Team that will be assessing your programs of study against the Standards. APAC has a pool of qualified assessors who are approved by the APAC Board.
The Assessment Team usually comprises of:
- an Assessment Team Leader, who is an experienced assessor and whose usual place of employment is not located in the same city as the HEP being assessed, is responsible for coordinating the assessment
- further assessors as required
- an APAC staff member
- may include observers (including additional APAC staff).
Any potential conflicts of interest should be raised with APAC at this point. The HEP must then go on to confirm that it has no objection to the Assessment Team before we can proceed further.
At three months before the visit, the HEP will need to submit a self-assessment and supporting evidence of how its psychology programs meet the Accreditation Standards. The submission for accreditation template can be found here. The HEP will also need to provide a draft site visit schedule.
The Assessment Team will interview all the HEP’s major stakeholders. This is normally completed onsite and in person, however in some circumstances the visit may be undertaken virtually.
Following the visit, the Assessment Team will draft a report based on the HEP’s submission documentation and the observations made at the site visit. The report will contain any proposed recommendations for the programs and will be considered by the Accreditation Assessment Committee (AAC) at the next scheduled meeting.
Following the AAC meeting, the HEP is provided with an opportunity to submit a rejoinder to comment on any factual inaccuracies of the report and input any further information to demonstrate that its programs meet the Accreditation Standards. This could include information that was not available at the time of assessment or during the site visit.
The Assessment Team will review the rejoinder and revise any recommendations, as necessary. The report is then re-considered by the AAC and a final recommendation is made to the APAC Board.
The APAC Board reviews the recommendations and makes a final determination outcome for each program of study. Formal correspondence is subsequently sent to the HEP and the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) for an approval decision.
The PsyBA makes its own decision on whether to approve or deny the program as a program of study within the pathway that leads to registration as a psychologist in Australia.
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between APAC accreditation and Psychology Board of Australia approval?The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 (National Law) requires a program to be both accredited by APAC and approved by the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) to be considered as a qualification suitable for the purpose of registration as a psychologist in Australia. Accreditation refers to the review process of psychology programs for quality assurance and quality improvement against the Accreditation Standards. Approval refers to the process of assessment by the PsyBA of an APAC accredited program to determine if it meets the PsyBA’s requirements for the purpose of registration as a psychologist in Australia under the National Law.
Are education providers required to submit an update for the 2022 annual report?Pursuant to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009, APAC is required to monitor accredited programs of study. Annual reporting for 2022 will continue as scheduled and APAC requests that annual reports be submitted no later than 30 April 2022. As per the standard process, if APAC is undertaking a cycle assessment at the relevant education provider this year, there is no need to submit an annual report update. In every other case, all education providers are required to submit an annual report and the year a cycle assessment is undertaken is the only exemption to this.
How can I confirm if my program of study is APAC accredited?In the first instance, please visit the search for a program page to search for your program of study. If you are unable to locate your program of study within the list of accredited programs, there could be several reasons to consider:
- if you completed your program several years ago, it might not be offered anymore and may have been removed from the APAC website. Where a program is no longer offered, it will remain on the website for a period of time after the program is completely discontinued. If your program is not listed and to ascertain whether a program was accredited at a specific point in time, please refer to the request for an academic transcript check page.
- if the program is new, it may not have completed the accreditation assessment process yet. Programs are not listed on the APAC website until accreditation is granted. Please contact the education provider which offers the program directly to confirm where the program is in the accreditation assessment process.
- if your program does not appear on the APAC website and you are sure whether it is discontinued or a newly proposed program, you should contact the education provider who offers the program for further information.
In the current circumstances, is APAC still undertaking accreditation work?Much of APAC’s accreditation work and assessments are undertaken remotely and that aspect of our work won’t change. The main impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is on our capacity to undertake site visits, which have been transitioned to a virtual platform at this time. We are working with education providers to explore ways in which elements of the site visit assessment can be undertaken remotely so that we can progress as much accreditation business as possible.
Is there a review process if the education provider is not happy with the APAC accreditation determination?An education provider may request an internal review of an APAC accreditation determination of accreditation failed or accreditation withdrawn. For further information on the process, including how to lodge a request for review, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s it like to have your learning and teaching, your facilities and your curriculum examined, and to have staff and students chat with our assessors? Associate Professor Linda Byrne is deputy head of the School of Psychology at Deakin University, where she was a key participant in the assessment process that APAC carried out there in 2020.