Accreditation has two fundamental purposes: to assure the quality of the institution or program and to assist in the improvement of the institution or program...
In fulfilling its two purposes, quality assurance, and institutional and program improvement, accreditation provides service of value to several constituencies:
To the PUBLIC, the values of accreditation include:
- an assurance of external evaluation of the institution or program, and a finding that there is conformity to general expectations in higher education or the professional field;
- an identification of institutions and programs which have voluntarily undertaken explicit activities directed at improving the quality of the institution and its professional programs, and are carrying them out successfully;
- an improvement in the professional services available to the public, as accredited programs modify their requirements to reflect changes in knowledge and practice generally accepted in the field;
- a decreased need for intervention by public agencies in the operations of educational institutions, since their institutions through accreditation are providing privately for the maintenance and enhancement of educational quality.
To STUDENTS, accreditation provides:
- an assurance that the educational activities of an accredited institution or program have been found to be satisfactory, and therefore meet the needs of students;
- assistance in the transfer of credits between institutions, or in the admission of students to advanced degrees through the general acceptance of credits among accredited institutions when the performance of the student has been satisfactory and the credits to be transferred are appropriate to the receiving institution;
- a prerequisite in many cases for entering a profession.
INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION benefit from accreditation through:
- the stimulus provided for self-evaluation and self-directed institutional and program improvement;
- the strengthening of institutional and program self-evaluation by the review and counsel provided through the accrediting agency;
- the application of criteria of accrediting agencies, generally accepted throughout higher education, which help guard against external encroachments harmful to institutional or program quality by providing benchmarks independent of forces that might impinge on individual institutions;
- the enhancing of the reputation of an accredited institution or program because of public regard for accreditation;
- the use of accreditation as one means by which an institution can gain eligibility for the participation of itself and its students in certain programs of governmental aid to postsecondary education; accreditation is also usually relied upon by private foundations as a highly desirable indicator of institutional and program quality.
Accreditation serves the PROFESSIONS by:
- providing a means for the participation of practitioners in setting the requirements for preparation to enter the professions;
- contributing to the unity of the professions by bringing together practitioners, teachers and students in an activity directed at improving professional preparation and professional practice. (Adopted by the COPA Board April 15, 1982) (Affirmed by the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation January 16, 1994)
The specific purposes of the AOTA accreditation process are:
- to encourage continuous self-analysis and improvement of the occupational therapy educational program by representatives of the institution's administrative staff, teaching faculty, students, governing body, and other appropriate constituencies, with the ultimate aim of assuring students of quality education in this profession and assuring patients of appropriate occupational therapy care.
- to determine whether the occupational therapy educational program meets the appropriate approved educational standards.
- to encourage faculty to anticipate and accommodate new trends and developments in the practice of occupational therapy that should be incorporated into the educational process.
- to assure the educational community, the general public, and other agencies or organizations that the program has both clearly defined and appropriate objectives, maintains conditions under which these objectives can reasonably be expected to be achieved, appears to be accomplishing them substantially, and can be expected to continue to do so.