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Conformity and Credibility in Non-Accredited Education
On joining, IARC members have proven the ability to adhere to sincere and competitive quality standards. They’ve also strategised leadership which demonstrates how private education enterprise doesn’t need to be restricted in ways seen in the accredited sectors worldwide. Non-formal, non-accredited and alternative education programs, courses, and training can and do deliver on point knowledge, skills and capabilities craved by employers and businesses.
I’m a senior course content writer for ACS Distance Education – a job I love! Since 2009, I’ve observed the school keep up with trends and industry demands whilst still offering markedly different approaches to online learning. For ACS I have the advantage of some serious inside scoop on how those courses and products are aligned with standards and industry norms in (online) education... for over a decade I’ve also worked for IARC. This mix of experience and awareness, and the back-and-forth ritual of responsibility, brings precision to my development work with ACS and IARC. Being close to the experiences, challenges and achievements of students, keeps me connected to what really matters to them.
Before I get into the grit of my message, the next few lines share a little info on IARC… The association is headquartered in Queensland, Australia, with a modest and thriving membership of 80+ education providers. IARC has a formidable team residing in the United Kingdom who make up the regional committee. This geographical breadth gives IARC leverage to operate on a global platform, with members from all corners of the globe. Members bring forth their own education culture and diverse viewpoints, which in turn gives IARC enhanced insight into learning expectations worldwide.
The Centre, founded in 1999, was originally built on the philosophy of ethical education with the concept of accreditation central to the founding vision. Although IARC has formally moved away from course specific accreditation today, in its place the Centre focuses quality assurance efforts on the theory and assets of credibility. The basis of what accreditation symbolises - credibility - is now at the core of IARC’s constitutional objectives and quality standards.
Standards are palpable requirements that are central to education products and services and how they are delivered.
The standards are the experiences that learners deserve from education.
They are what consumers expect and what industry demands.
Standards produced by IARC are developed from
consultation with the members,
from feedback – formal or informal,
through evidence based research.
Revised by IARC a few years ago, our standards shifted the focus of quality from course function, curriculum, and delivery, to reflect a broader system of education delivered via a range of business models. Those business models commonly differ, but one thing remains constant, each has proven the ability to design, deliver and service students for competitive academic or vocational outcomes.
IARC’s standards today reflect: the professionalism of staff, and the experiences of enrolled or graduated students.
IARC has combined these principal areas and they are strands within our quality framework – The Framework for Excellence.
Why has education and training been built around the concept of quality assurance, or recognition, or accreditation, or some form of official endorsement, in almost every world nation?
Formal recognition is the outcome of the process of assessment against a defined set of standards, benchmarks, learning intentions, objectives or aims. So, by having standards, therein lies the obligation of accountability, and ultimately improved academic quality where otherwise it may be lacking.
Credibility comes from something broader than this. Although perceptible, credibility is seen in systems, in companies, in business operations, in human resources, in feedback opportunities, in connection with industry, in highly regarded safe and secure tech, in solid customer experiences, in strong policy and governance and in authentic learning. For our members, credibility takes precedence over accreditation. The best indicators of credibility are the skills and qualifications of staff, the testimonials from students, and the background of partnered institutions, and the testimonials from employers who have employed course graduates.
Our members recognise the market demand for credible education.
Students don’t believe in a course unless the see value in it. The don’t apply themselves to it, so they don’t want to pay for it either. The product – including all the services that come with a course or training program – the entire package in other words, must be worthwhile.
IARC standards provide a framework for people to see where or how a course is worth it. What it offers them, and, if they comprehend the standards deeply, they also see why it matters. Admittedly, some learners don’t pay close attention to what criteria exist in any given quality framework – they simply want to know a school, a college or an online provider has been assessed and deemed reputable to some degree, by whichever reputable organisation or system of endorsement. For many that reassurance is enough. We get it.
Schools and Colleges approach us when they’ve been let down by a system which doesn’t provide the learning industry demands.
Members strive to deliver authentic real-world learning which involves applied experience. To be provider whose standard of educational product and service matters, many members choose to circumvent government systems that doesn’t fit their market or, frankly, restricts their ability to offer learning which has depth and robustness. Many of our members are leaders in the alternative education space. Our members create and deliver courses and study materials which are valuable for those able to see it. Employers don’t simply hire staff who have a certain stamp on a piece of paper… Employers want staff who demonstrate:
- tangible capabilities,
- established soft skills (often arising from independent learning),
- knowledge which can be readily applied,
- deep synthesis of subject matter,
- a willingness to grow and innovate.
Members listed today on iarcedu.com have proven the ability to adhere to IARC standards. They’ve also strategised leadership which demonstrates how private education enterprise doesn’t need to be restricted in ways seen in the accredited sectors worldwide. Non-formal, non-accredited and alternative education programs, courses, and training can and do deliver on point knowledge, skills and capabilities craved by employers and businesses.
To find out more about partnering with any of our members, start by clicking to join the Centre. There are advantages in networking. Or if you’d like to connect with me to find out more click here to book a free consultation.
By Jade Sciascia, IARC International Business Manager & ACS Distance Education Senior Content Writer