Higher education research

Publication Date



Accreditation standards, Accreditation (Courses), Accreditation (Institutions), Industry competency standards, Standards, Systematic reviews, Veterinary medical education


The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) undertook this review for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).


This report is critical and systematic review of the literature on professional education accreditation models, associated methods, and the effectiveness and impact of each model. The review was conducted to inform a review and update of the Royal College of Vetinerary Surgeons (RCVS) standards of accreditation for veterinary degrees. The purpose of the study was to rapidly appraise the evidence for the effectiveness, impact, and feasibility of different accreditation approaches, in order to inform best practices for the accreditation of professional education programs. The study focused on accreditation for programs which produce practice-ready graduates, including for veterinary programs. The authors searched several databases for articles published from 2000 to 2020, using search terms identified during a scoping phase, and applied a rapid review methodology in line with contextual, time, and resource requirements. The full-text review included 32 articles, from which a clear transition in the literature was seen from input- and process-based models (pre- and early 2000s) to outcomes-based models (in the 2000s and early 2010s). Continuous quality improvement and targeted models (including risk-based and thematic) represent more recent approaches in accreditation practice. However the review identified limited empirical evidence for the relative effectiveness of different accreditation approaches in professional education, although evidence for the more recent accreditation approaches is emerging.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Place of Publication

Camberwell, Victoria


Australian Council for Educational Research