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Staff Analysis of the Standards Used by the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council

 
Prepared June 2015
 
Background
 
Effective July 1, 2015, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) is charged with determining whether a foreign accrediting agency or organization (agency) is acceptable to the Secretary of Education for the purpose of evaluating veterinary programs and, therefore, access of those programs to participate in federal student aid funding programs (Section 600.56(a)(4)).The Australasian Veterinary Boards Council Inc. (AVBC) is the agency for the accreditation of veterinary schools in Australia and New Zealand, and currently accredits foreign veterinary programs that participate in such funding programs and has submitted a petition for review.

The standing committee which plans, advises on process, and carries out on-site inspections is the Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee (VSAAC or Committee). The Committee’s procedures for assessment of a veterinary school include requesting a self-evaluation report from the school prior to the site visit; an assessment visit that verifies and supplement the self-study; and the provision of oral feedback while on-site.

After the visit, a draft written report is submitted to team members for comment and then to the school for its comments regarding the accuracy of the draft. A revised report is resubmitted and the university may seek a special review of that report, if necessary. The final report is then sent to the AVBC which makes a decision on the veterinary school’s accreditation classification.

The process is based on AVBC’s standards regarding a school's organization, finances, facilities and equipment, library and learning resources, animals and related resources, admission and students, curriculum, clinical resources, clinical learning, teaching, academic and support staff, continuing education, and postgraduate training, research and outcomes. The AVBC also uses materials developed by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The AVMA is an accrediting agency that is currently recognized by the US Secretary of Education.
 
Summary of Findings
 
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory. Therefore, the agency can be determined to be acceptable to the Secretary of Education for the purpose of evaluating veterinary programs for Federal purposes. (See CFR §600.56(a)(4) for the guiding regulation).The agency will receive an official notification letter from the Department which will also explain the length of the acceptability determination.
 
Staff Analysis
 
PART 1: Entity Responsible for the Accreditation/Approval of Medical Schools
 
Accreditation System and Authority, Question 1
 
Agency Narrative
Structure and Function of AVBC

The Australasian Veterinary Boards Council was incorporated in Victoria in December 1999 by agreement of all of the state and territory Veterinary Boards of Australia and the Veterinary Council of New Zealand (VCNZ), with the aim of creating a legal entity with authority to speak and act on behalf of all registering authorities. In alignment with the and with agreement of members, the constitution was updated in 2014 (Exhibit 1 - Constitution of the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council)

The state and territory Veterinary Boards of Australia, the Veterinary Council of New Zealand, the Australian Veterinary Association Ltd (AVA) and the New Zealand Veterinary Association Ltd (NZVA) are members of the AVBC Inc. Each member must appoint a delegate (usually the President) and these delegates have a specific mandate to communicate the point of view of their organisation and must vote accordingly.

The structure of the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (Inc) is outlined below. The Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee (VSAAC) is a standing committee of AVBC (Exhibit 2- By-laws of the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council).

Exhibit 1. The organizational structure of AVBC.

Registration of Veterinarians

Veterinarians are regulated under state or territory legislation in Australia and national legislation in New Zealand. The veterinary boards are the responsible authorities for the registration of veterinarians and veterinary specialists in each of their jurisdictions. They are composed of veterinarians, lay members and government appointees. There are nine (9) statutory regulatory bodies in Australia and New Zealand, each with respective veterinary acts that define the qualifications required for registration and several of which define the role of Australasian Veterinary Boards Council in accreditation.
For example, under the ‘New South Wales Veterinary Practice Act 2003’ (Sect 21), the accreditation authority of AVBC is set out amongst its qualifications for full registration.

Qualifications for full registration

(1) A person may be granted full registration if:

(a) the person holds an academic award in veterinary science that was awarded on the completion of a regular graded course of study extending over at least 5 academic years in which a general study of veterinary science was made at a university, college or institution approved in writing by the Board on the advice of the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council Inc, or

(b) the person:

(i) holds an academic award in veterinary science that was awarded on the completion of a regular graded course of study in veterinary science extending over at least 4 academic years at a university, college or institution (not referred to in paragraph (a)) and that at the time it was granted was accepted in the country in which it was granted as a sufficient qualification for the practice of veterinary science in that country, and
(ii) has, if required by the Board, passed the examination required by the regulations.


Likewise, the authority of AVBC Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee (VSAAC) accreditation is set out under the Queensland Veterinary Surgeons Regulation 2002 –

Schedule 1 Part 1 – Accrediting bodies for degrees or diplomas recognised for the Act, section 18(1)(a) lists:

(1) American Veterinary Medical Association, if a pass in the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination, conducted by the National Board Examination Committee, or
(2) the National Board and Clinical Competency Test Examination, is also obtained
(3) Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates, if a pass in the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates Examination conducted in Canada or the United States of America is also obtained
(4) European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education
(5) Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, United Kingdom
(6) Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee

The relevant state, territory and New Zealand legislation is as follows:

New South Wales:
Veterinary Practice Act 2003
Veterinary Practice Regulation 2013
www.vpb.nsw.gov.au/legislation

Queensland:
Veterinary Practice Act
Veterinary Surgeons Regulation 2002
www.vsb.qld.gov.au/legislation.html

South Australia:
Veterinary Practice Act 2003
Veterinary Practice Regulations 2005
http://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/LZ/C/A/VETERINARY%20PRACTICE%20ACT%202003.aspx
http://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/LZ/C/R/VETERINARY%20PRACTICE%20REGULATIONS%202005/CURRENT/2005.202.UN.PDF

Victoria:
Veterinary Practice Act 1997
Veterinary Practice Regulations 2008
www.vetboard.vic.gov.au/legi.php

Western Australia:
Veterinary Surgeons Act 1960
Veterinary Practice Bill 2015
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_act/vsa1960258/
www.vsbwa.org.au

Tasmania:
Veterinary Surgeons Act 1987
Veterinary Surgeons Regulations 2012
www.dpipwe.tas.gov.au/biosecurity/animal-biosecurity/veterinary-board-of-tasmania/veterinary-board-links

Northern Territory:
Veterinarians Act 2014
Veterinarians Regulations
www.nt.gov.au/d/vetboardnt/index.cfm?header=legislation

ACT:
Health Professions Act 2004
Health Professionals Regulation 2004
www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/2004-38/current/pdf/2004-38.pdf

New Zealand:
Veterinarians Act 2005
http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2005/0126/latest/DLM363859.html?src=qs
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Accreditation System and Authority, Question 2
 
Agency Narrative
Mandate for AVBC in accreditation

The AVBC constitution (Exhibit 1, which was most recently updated in 2014, under the aegis of the ‘Victorian Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012’), lists accreditation as Point 2(a) of its purposes:
(1) To encourage co-operation among the veterinary boards in Australia and New Zealand;
(2) To advise and make recommendations to the veterinary boards in Australia and New Zealand in relation to:
(a) The accreditation of veterinary schools and of courses leading to a degree in veterinary science or medicine;
(b) Assessment of the suitability for practice in Australia and New Zealand of persons with foreign veterinary qualifications; and
(c) Uniform criteria for recognition of qualifications for registration;
(3) To provide advice on matters concerning the occupational regulation of veterinarians*, including general and specialist registration;
(4) To encourage standardisation and quality assurance of veterinary services to the community in all jurisdictions; and
(5) To communicate and co-operate with international veterinary organisations and other professions, both nationally and internationally.

Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee

The evaluation of new and established veterinary programs is undertaken by the Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee (VSAAC), under the oversight of the AVBC.

The terms of reference for VSAAC are that it (i) oversees the AVBC’s accreditation program for veterinary schools, (ii) advises AVBC on all matters relating to the accreditation of veterinary schools and (iii) It makes recommendations to AVBC on the accreditation of each Australian and New Zealand veterinary program. These terms of reference require that VSAAC:
1. Establishes the education standards necessary for veterinary graduates to be acceptable to the registering authorities, the profession and the community;
2. Defines the education standards necessary to ensure the recognition of qualifications of graduates from veterinary schools in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and South Africa;
3. Conducts veterinary school accreditation visits
4. Reviews annual reports from each veterinary school in Australia and New Zealand
5. Reviews (annually) the AVBC accreditation standards
6. Monitors the performance of Australian and New Zealand Veterinary schools’ graduates in their early professional careers,

The report of the evaluations that are formulated during accreditation visits and the process of review of the schools’ annual reports form the basis of assuring the veterinary registration authorities of Australia and New Zealand that the standard of graduates from the veterinary schools is satisfactory for registration purposes.

The processes by which AVBC interacts with the government entities is described on Pages 13 and 14 of the AVBC Accreditation Standards (Exhibit 4). Briefly, once the accreditation has been completed and the contents of the report has been reviewed by the school, the report, the SER and the comments of the visiting team are forwarded to AVBC for consideration. No other material is taken into account during the accreditation decision rendered by the AVBC. The final report is then sent to each of the individual registration authorities (within 2 months of the visit), who then have 4 months to independently review the report. Once the member board reaches agreement on the recommendations of the report, it will communicate its decision to the AVBC office or empower its representative to vote on the board’s behalf at the AVBC meeting where the accreditation status of the school is to be discussed.

At the AVBC meeting, the Chair of VSAAC and/or the Chair of the site visit team presents the evaluation report, related comment, and a recommendation for classification of accreditation. The Chair and/or the EO of AVBC also provide comment on the conduct of the visit. After discussion and full review of the report, the Council may revise the report and ultimately assigns a classification of accreditation to the veterinary school by a majority vote. The decision is normally made without consideration of events (apart from any review) that occur subsequent to the site visit.

Anyone present at the meeting who has a conflict of interest with the veterinary school under consideration must declare it and the matter must be resolved and recorded, before discussion and voting that leads to accreditation actions.


AVBC Response:
There has never been a case where a veterinary board has not agreed with a VSAAC recommendation.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
The application documentation contained the statement that “Following any review the final report is sent to the AVBC which distributes copies of the report to its member veterinary boards. The veterinary boards are legally responsible for accepting or rejecting a recommendation from VSAAC on the accreditation classification.”

Seeking additional information from the agency, Department staff asked the following:
Has there ever been a case where a veterinary board has not agreed with a VSAAC recommendation? And if so, what were the reasons for the rejection, and was the disagreement eventually resolved?

In its response, the agency noted that there has never been a case where a veterinary board has not agreed with a VSAAC recommendation. Therefore, based on its review of the total data that has been submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Part 2: Accreditation/Approval Standards
 
Mission and Objectives
 
Agency Narrative
Standards for Accreditation

The Australasian Veterinary Boards Council) has well defined standards for accreditation and “reasonable assurance” which address the quality of veterinary programs in Australia and New Zealand.

The accreditation standards are reviewed regularly by the Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee (VSAAC) in collaboration with relevant Australasian stakeholders, Professions Australia (http://www.professions.com.au/Files/Standards_for_Professional_Accreditation_Processes.pdf) and other veterinary accrediting agencies in the International Accreditation Working Group (IAWG). IAWG (Exibit 5- Joint report IAWG.pdf) aims to continually improve and harmonise standards and procedures for veterinary accreditation. Jointly held accreditation visits with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education (CoE) and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (UK) occur regularly, with observers from South African Veterinary Council (SAVC), and the European Association of Establishments of Veterinary Education (EAEVE) commonly being also present.

The Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee meets each year to review and improve its policies, procedures and standards in the light of the above benchmarking processed, and to make recommendations for changes to AVBC. A major review of the Policies, Procedures and Standards (Exhibit 6) took place in 2014, and the resultant document (Exhibit 4) was ratified by the various registration authorities and AVBC in February 2015.

Pre-accreditation
Pre-accreditation is not offered per se, although AVBC has developed a well-tried process of Reasonable Assurance evaluations and site visits for proposed veterinary programs. These are conducted using the methodology used for established accredited programs. The self-evaluation report, the site visit and the report of the evaluation address the standard requirements based on plans and existing resources such as budgets, facilities, teaching and administrative staff. A Reasonable Assurance evaluation is based on planned action and preliminary arrangements, subject to the VSAAC deeming the implementation of such planned actions to be reasonable, pragmatic and feasible within appropriate time frames. In principle, however, a veterinary school is considered eligible to apply for a “Letter of Reasonable Assurance” if the parent institution is both legally authorised to confer a degree, and employs a veterinarian as dean of the veterinary school [please see an example Reasonable Assurance report (Exhibit 7) from The University of Adelaide]

Site visits
Accreditation site visits for established programs operate on a seven (7) year cycle. As a prelude to a site visit, the school is required to provide a series of documents, including a Self-Study Report (Self Evaluation Report), as described on Pages 9 and 10 of the Accreditation Standards document (Exhibit 4). The aim of a site visit is to verify and supplement information presented in the Self Study Report (Self Evaluation Report) in order to provide a recommendation to the AVBC as to whether the school meets the standards for accreditation.

The site visit team expects to meet groups of staff who represent a broad range of disciplines and levels of experience, extramural and adjunct staff, students and external stakeholders. An opportunity must be provided during the visit for any staff member or student to meet confidentially with the site visit team and to send confidential communications to them. Access to supporting information such as curriculum materials, Memoranda of Understanding with partner practices, Terms of Reference of committees, examination materials and the internal information systems is also provided for the site visit team.

Site teams usually comprise six members plus AVBC staff support. Observers from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS http://www.rcvs.org.uk/home/ ) or the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC http://www.savc.org.za/ ), trainee site team members, or members of an AVMA CoE site team regularly swell team numbers to ten (10) plus 2 staff.

(a) Mission and Objectives.
The veterinary school’s educational program should be appropriate in light of its mission and objectives of the school. An essential objective of a program of veterinary education should be to prepare graduates to enter and complete graduate veterinary education, qualify for licensure, provide competent veterinary care, and have the educational background necessary for continued learning.

• What are the agency’s requirements related to how veterinary schools should prepare graduates to qualify for licensure and to provide quality veterinary care?

Standard 1 of the AVBC Accreditation Standards requires that a school must be able to describe its mission and objectives, the means by which these are determined, the means by which they are reviewed and the processes by which the organisation of the school contributes to the achievement of its mission and objectives.
Schools are required to align their objectives with the AVBC’s Attributes of Veterinary Graduates (Page 86 of the Accreditation Standards document- Exhibit 8), and may further align them with the the “Day One Competences” of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (Page 87, Exhibit 8) and/or the clinical competencies of the AVMA (https://www.avma.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/ Education/Accreditation/Colleges/Pages/default.aspx). AVBC considers that the meeting of educational objectives that are aligned with these Attributes will ensure graduates veterinarians have the competences at the point of their first day of practice that are expected of an ‘entry level’ veterinarian.

The criteria for meeting these Attributes are further expounded in the subsequent Accreditation Standards, under headings that include Facilities and Equipment, Curriculum, Pre and Para Clinical Animals and Related Resources, Clinical Skills Development, and Continuing and Higher Degree Education and Research. . Guidance for benchmarking the curricular and infrastructural components that are favourable to the development of these Attributes are provided by the use of a set of indicators developed by the European veterinary accreditation agency (EAEVE, http://www.eaeve.org ) which benchmarks items such as staff:student ratios, animal resources and It is also required that schools routinely gather data from stakeholders and employers to verify that their graduates meet both the aforegoing attributes and also the expectations of their employers and the animal-owning public.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Governance
 
Agency Narrative
The veterinary school must demonstrate that it is effectively governed and managed.

The school must be a major administrative division of a registered higher education provider, or have legal recognition by the jurisdiction in which it is located (VSAAC refers to Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency,http://www.teqsa.gov.au/national-register in Australia or the Committee on University Academic Programmes (CUAP) of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority of Universities New Zealand) . It must have the same recognition, status and autonomy as other professional programs in the higher education institution. The school must be able to obtain and direct resources to achieve its mission. Clear and direct lines of responsibility for delivering and resourcing the curriculum must be evident.

The Dean, Head or Principal must be a locally registered veterinarian, as must the staff member responsible for the professional, ethical and academic conduct of the school's clinical teaching hospital(s). Where a distributed teaching model is used for clinical education, a university staff registered veterinarian must have oversight of all clinical education provided.

The governance of the school and its management structures and functions must be defined and understood by all stakeholders. This definition must encompass the school’s internal relationships, relationships with the university and with the school’s external providers.

Governance and management of risk assessment, workplace health and safety, statutory obligations and human resources, animal care and management policies must aspire to be at best practice standards (e.g. those set by Australian Institute of Company Directors or the NZ Institute of Directors).

The composition, terms of reference, powers, reporting relationships, representation of relevant groups, and decisions must be documented for all committees and delegated authorities.

The school’s organisational structure must ensure that staff, students and key stakeholder groups have the opportunity to contribute to the school’s direction and decision making processes.

The school must be able to assure the AVBC of the continuity of core partnerships for curriculum delivery.

The school must provide evidence that it quickly and effectively manages concerns about, or risks to, the quality of any aspect of the veterinary program.

Staff Analysis: The agency’s standards require that a school must be a major administrative division of a registered higher education provider, or have legal recognition by the jurisdiction in which it is located. The agency’s application indicated that there is a quality control agency called the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA), which provides legal recognition of educational entities in Australia after a thorough review. Additional information is requested regarding this process. For the jurisdictions in New Zealand, is there a quality control agency similar to Australia's TEQSA that conducts a thorough review before providing legal recognition of the educational entities accredited by your agency?

AVBC Response
There is such a body in New Zealand that functions under the authority of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and is operated by Universities New Zealand. It is the Committee on University Academic Programmes.
Committee on University Academic Programmes (CUAP)
The Committee on University Academic Programmes (CUAP) considers academic matters across the university system including the exercise of programme approval and moderation procedures, advice and comment on academic developments, and encouraging the universities to develop courses of study that will facilitate the transfer of students between programmes and institutions.
Relationship with New Zealand Qualifications Authority
Under New Zealand legislation, the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (Universities NZ) exercises the powers with respect to programme approval and accreditation that are held by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority for the rest of the tertiary education sector. Universities NZ has delegated its powers to CUAP. CUAP undertakes its programme approval and accreditation functions within policies, such as the gazetted criteria for programme approval, developed by NZQA following consultation with the university sector. Representatives of CUAP meet representatives of NZQA four times annually to discuss matters of mutual interest, and CUAP nominates university representatives to working groups convened by NZQA to consider a range of academic matters when invited to do so.

Membership
CUAP comprises a representative from each of the universities, a Chair and Deputy Chair appointed by Universities NZ, and a student representative. CUAP is chaired by the Hon. Steve Maharey, Vice-Chancellor, Massey University.
Handbook
CUAP publishes a handbook describing the work of the committee, offering definitions of qualifications and outlining procedures to be followed in the submission of material.
CUAP Decisions on Academic Programmes
CUAP meets twice a year (usually July and November) to consider proposals made by the universities for new qualifications or major changes to existing ones.
Lists of the qualifications approved, deleted and renamed since 1990 are available.
New qualifications that are approved by CUAP may be found on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework - a comprehensive list of all quality-assured qualifications in New Zealand.
CUAP also holds two further meetings annually to deal with a range of academic matters.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
The agency’s standards require that a school must be a major administrative division of a registered higher education provider, or have legal recognition by the jurisdiction in which it is located. The agency’s application indicated that there is a quality control agency called the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA), which provides legal recognition of educational entities in Australia after a thorough review.

Seeking additional information from the agency, Department staff asked the following:
For the jurisdictions in New Zealand, is there a quality control agency similar to Australia's TEQSA that conducts a thorough review before providing legal recognition of the educational entities accredited by your agency?

In its response, the agency discussed a similar quality control agency in New Zealand. Therefore, based on its review of the total data that has been submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Administrative and Fiscal Capacity, Question 1
 
Agency Narrative
(overlaps with previous question)
The veterinary school must demonstrate that it is effectively governed and managed.

The school must be able to obtain and direct resources to achieve its mission. Clear and direct lines of responsibility for delivering and resourcing the curriculum must be evident.

The Dean, Head or Principal must be a locally registered veterinarian, as must the staff member responsible for the professional, ethical and academic conduct of the school's clinical teaching hospital(s). Where a distributed teaching model is used for clinical education, a university staff registered veterinarian must have oversight of all clinical education provided.

The governance of the school and its management structures and functions must be defined and understood by all stakeholders. This definition must encompass the school’s internal relationships, relationships with the university and with the school’s external providers.

Governance and management of risk assessment, workplace health and safety, statutory obligations and human resources, animal care and management policies must aspire to be at best practice standards (e.g. those set by Australian Institute of Company Directors or the NZ Institute of Directors).

The composition, terms of reference, powers, reporting relationships, representation of relevant groups, and decisions must be documented for all committees and delegated authorities.

The school’s organisational structure must ensure that staff, students and key stakeholder groups have the opportunity to contribute to the school’s direction and decision making processes.

The school must be able to assure the AVBC of the continuity of core partnerships for curriculum delivery.

The school must provide evidence that it quickly and effectively manages concerns about, or risks to, the quality of any aspect of the veterinary program.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Administrative and Fiscal Capacity, Question 2
 
Agency Narrative
Finances and financial management expertise must be shown to be adequate to sustain the veterinary educational program and implement the veterinary school's mission. The school and university must provide reasonable evidence to AVBC that finances to sustain the veterinary program are secure for the next 7 years.

Sufficient funds must be allocated for the acquisition and maintenance of buildings and equipment.

Clinical services, field services and teaching hospitals, whether owned by the school or an outside provider, must function as instructional resources. The essential requirement for clinical instruction must prevail when balanced against the need for financial self-sufficiency of clinical and teaching services.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Faculty, Question 1
 
Agency Narrative
The AVBC does not define a precise number for the size of the faculty, as the number will be judged in relation to the size of the student cohort, and the varying departmental structures of universities. However, the qualitative indicators of staffing are interpreted in the light of benchmarking ratios (Exhibit 4, AVBC Accreditaton Standards p85) for academic staff (faculty) and support staff, which are widely used throughout Europe. In this context, ‘support staff’ includes technical, administrative, nursing and general staff.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Faculty, Question 2
 
Agency Narrative
Veterinary clinical faculty staff must be qualified veterinarians and must be registered to practise with the registration authority in whose territory the school is situated. All staff must be listed in the Self Evaluation Report (or Self Study Report) for accreditation, including their qualifications (including whether they have a veterinary qualification or specialist registration). Changes in faculty must also be reported on an annual basis.
AVBC requires that:
• The total number, qualifications and teaching skills of academic and support staff must be sufficient and appropriate to deliver the educational program and fulfil the school’s mission.
• Staff members who participate in teaching must display competence and effective teaching skills in relevant aspects of the curriculum, regardless of whether they are full or part time, residents, interns or postgraduate students, adjuncts or off-campus contracted teachers
• Academic positions must offer the security and benefits necessary to maintain stability, morale, continuity, and competence of the academic staff. Academic staff should have a managed workload of teaching, research and service for academic staff is required; and they must have reasonable opportunity and resources for participation in scholarly activities.
• The veterinary school must provide evidence that it utilises a well-defined and comprehensive program for the professional growth and development of staff; including formal appraisal and informal mentoring procedures, especially for junior academic staff.
• Promotion criteria must be clear and explicit, and place due emphasis on teaching, research, service and other scholarly activities. Evidence for teaching excellence must be one of the key criteria for promotion of teaching staff.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Faculty, Question 3
 
Agency Narrative
In past editions of AVBC standards, a separate list of requirements for ‘Distributed’ or ‘Off-Campus’ clinical sites was included (see Exhibit 6- Policies, Procedures and Standards Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee 2012, p 102). These included specifications that arrangements for staff located at off-campus sites should ensure they can continue to be part of the collegiate community. In recent times, with the consolidation of the view that off-campus faculty should meet the same standards as intramural staff members, the inclusion of such a list was considered redundant.
Nonetheless, each school is required to describe
• The extent and responsibilities of distributed and off campus clinical teaching;
• The mechanisms that are used to ensure that all external clinical placements are supervised, well organised and subject to appropriate quality assurance processes;
• The process of review of the effectiveness of each off-campus clinical educational experience;
• The planning, supervision, and monitoring of students whilst off-campus;
• Contractual relationships with placement providers (including health and safety compliance);
• How it ensures that off-campus facilities used in core curriculum instruction are of a standard comparable to those in intramural facilities and meet those of national accreditation standards (e.g. ASAVA accreditation standards); and
• How off-campus sites are provided with dedicated learning spaces with access to university learning resources.
Standards for remote sites are assessed by site team members, against a checklist devised by the AVMA and modified by AVBC (Exhibit 4 AVBC Standards, p168)

Staff Analysis:
The agency’s narrative indicated that it is no longer clearly specified (as it was in 2012) that staff located at off-campus sites should be part of the collegiate community since it was essentially a redundant expectation. However, Department staff could not locate any similar requirement in the 2015 materials.
Therefore, some additional information is requested.
Does your agency require that clinical site instructors or supervising teachers are members of the veterinary school faculty?

AVBC response:
It is not a requirement that off site clinical instructors or supervising teachers are members of the veterinary school faculty. Off-campus faculty are required by VSAAC to meet the same standards as intramural staff members and contribute on committees, undergo teacher training and be entitled to attend seminars. It is specified that arrangements for university staff located at off-campus sites ensure they can continue to be part of the collegiate community.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
The agency’s narrative indicated that it is no longer clearly specified (as it was in 2012) that staff located at off-campus sites should be part of the collegiate community since it was essentially a redundant expectation. However, Department staff could not locate any similar requirement in the 2015 materials.
Seeking additional information from the agency, Department staff asked the following:
Does your agency require that clinical site instructors or supervising teachers are members of the veterinary school faculty?

In its response, the agency noted that off-campus faculty are required by VSAAC to meet the same standards as intramural staff members and to contribute on committees, undergo teacher training and be entitled to attend seminars. It is also specified that arrangements for university staff located at off-campus sites ensure they can continue to be part of the collegiate community.

Therefore, based on its review of the total data that has been submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Faculty, Question 4
 
Agency Narrative
Staff analysis:
What are the agency’s criteria for determining that there is sufficient access to the resources and authority needed to effectively instruct students at
affiliated locations?

AVBC response:

As part of the Self Study Report and accreditation process, schools are required (AVBC Standard 10 ‘Clinical Skills Development’) to describe the organization of clinical services which the School utilises to support student learning, the mechanisms used to ensure that all clinical placements are supervised, well organized and subject to appropriate quality assurance processes, and to provide evidence of systematic review and reflection (e.g. through assessment outcomes and student, staff and extramural practitioner feedback) on the effectiveness of the clinical educational experience.
The school is required to explain the extent and responsibilities of distributed and off campus clinical teaching, including a description of the planning, supervision, and monitoring of students; describe the contractual relationships with placement providers (including health and safety compliance). This explanation covers both core and non-core off-campus clinical placements.
Similarly, the schools is required to demonstrate that off campus facilities used in core curriculum instruction are of a standard comparable to those in intramural facilities and meet relevant national accreditation standards (e.g. ASAVA accreditation standards) and are provided with dedicated learning spaces with access to university learning resources.
There must be evidence (e.g. through contracts with each site/organisation) that there are sufficient places available in total to match the training needs of the student intake.
Taken as a whole, arrangements with off-campus sites/organisations should be secured sufficiently far in advance to ensure stability of provision for students over successive cohorts during the period of accreditation. The university must have suitable contingency plans to cover any possible shortfalls.
Relevant veterinary legislation in New Zealand and each of the states and territories of Australia makes provision for students in the clinical part of their course to examine animals, carry out diagnostic tests under the direction of a registered veterinary surgeon, administer treatment under the supervision of a registered veterinarian and perform surgical procedures under the direct and continuous supervision of a registered veterinarian.

(I note this question still shows as xxx unanswered on the following page in the draft pdf.)
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Curricula, Question 1
 
Agency Narrative
Design and implementation

The expectations of AVBC are that veterinary schools’ curricula must be designed, resourced and managed to ensure that (i) all graduates understand the biological principles and processes of veterinary significance; (ii) meet AVBC Graduate Attributes and RCVS Day 1 Competences; and (iii) have skills that are consistent with the mission of the school. In this context ‘skills’ is interpreted to include not only cognitive and technical skills, but also the affective and communication skills that are expected of a graduate veterinarian. In addition, the school must have a program for development of expertise in tertiary teaching theory/practice for all academic staff.
AVBC does not define the precise structure for the curriculum, but seeks to encourage innovation in how the curriculum is delivered. Curricula may therefore be fully or partially integrated, horizontally and vertically, or may follow a more traditional pattern of pre-clinical, para-clinical and clinical instruction. However, AVBC expects that the curriculum will be designed around a series of learning outcomes to form a cohesive, well-articulated framework that:
• underpins and ensures the effective alignment of all content, teaching, learning and assessment activities of the degree program;
• forms the basis for explicit statements of the objectives and learning outcomes of individual units of study;
• are communicated to staff and students; and
• are regularly reviewed, managed and updated to ensure they remain relevant, adequate and are effectively achieved.

A digest of the expectations of AVBC around the content of the program is given on Page 22 of the Accreditation Standards document (Exhibit 4)
It is expected that the curriculum and its delivery will be overseen and managed through formally-constituted committee (which includes student representation) that has clear and empowered reporting lines. The committee must:
• determine the pedagogical basis, design, delivery methods and assessment methods of the curriculum,
• oversee quality assurance of the curriculum
• regularly review the curriculum and, where necessary, make changes.

Evaluation

AVBC expects that that the assessment of veterinary students will be based upon the premise that program learning outcomes will form the basis for assessment design, such that assessment strategies allow the school to certify student achievement of learning objectives at the level of the program and individual units of study. Assessment therefore has to allow for the demonstration of progressive development across the program towards Day 1 competence.
It is also expected that procedures will be in place to maximise the fairness, validity and reliability of assessment outcomes (i.e. academic peer review of assessment content, proofing of scripts, supervision and invigilation, maintenance of records and moderation processes). Finally, there must be a clearly identified body within the School with responsibility for the management of assessment.

Staff Analysis:
The agency’s documents indicate that each program’s basic purpose is “to educate graduates who possess sufficient skills and attributes to allow them to be registered to practice veterinary science.”
Therefore, some additional information is requested.
Does the curricula normally lead to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree, or its equivalent?

AVBC response:
The curricula do lead to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) or its equivalent. All veterinary curricula accredited by AVBC educate students to the same level of skill required of graduating veterinarians. Students satisfactorily completing a Bachelor of Veterinary Science, for example, will receive their degree in five years, where those undertaking a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine are required to complete an undergraduate Bachelor program followed by a four year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine award. The professional standing of these degrees is equivalent.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
The agency’s documents indicate that each program’s basic purpose is “to educate graduates who possess sufficient skills and attributes to allow them to be registered to practice veterinary science.”

Seeking additional information from the agency, Department staff asked the following:
Does the curricula normally lead to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree, or its equivalent?

In its response, the agency described how the curricula do lead to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) or its equivalent.
Therefore, based on its review of the total data that has been submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Curricula, Question 2
 
Agency Narrative
Duration

The duration of degrees is regulated by national-level bodies (i.e. the Australian Qualifications Framework (www.aqf.edu.au) and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority(www.nzqa.govt.nz), who assign professional degrees to Levels 8 or 9 on their 10-point classification scale. Thus, as degree durations are specified by those frameworks, AVBC is not required to specify the durations itself. Nonetheless, although AVBC does not specify program length in its standards, many of the jurisdictions do so. For example, the Veterinary Practioners Board of NSW requires that AVBC accredited courses of study extend over at least 5 academic years:
“ the person holds an academic award in veterinary science that was awarded on the completion of a regular graded course of study extending over at least 5 academic years in which a general study of veterinary science was made at a university, college or institution approved in writing by the Board on the advice of the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council Inc,” (www.vpb.nsw.gov.au/legislation)

The Veterinary Surgeons Board of Western Australia requires a minimum course of study of 4 years. Likewise, the Veterinary Council of New Zealand stipulates that:
A person… is entitled to be registered if the person satisfies the Council that he or she is a fit and proper person to be registered and has, or is eligible to have,—
(a) a recognised veterinary science degree or diploma from a recognised institution; or
(b) a veterinary science degree or diploma of not less than 4 years of study…. (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_act/vsa1960258/)
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Although the agency does not set a specific program length, the countries involved typically require a minimum program length that ranges from four to five academic years. Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.

 
Curricula, Question 3
 
Agency Narrative
Standards of animal and patient care in the curriculum

AVBC expects that the curriculum will ensure that graduates achieve:
• The ability to recognise and advise on normal animal husbandry and management;
• Knowledge of the structure, function and homeostasis, pathophysiology and mechanisms of disease, and the natural history and clinical manifestations of important animal diseases.
• Expertise in medicine, surgery, and anaesthesia applicable to a broad range of common species. This includes Day 1 competences in
o Physical examination and laboratory diagnostic techniques and interpretation (including clinical pathology, diagnostic imaging and necropsy),
o Therapy (including surgery and pharmacotherapeutics),
o Patient management and care (including intensive care, emergency medicine, and isolation procedures) for individual animals, herds, flocks and other populations.
• Knowledge, skills, values, attitudes and behaviours necessary to promote animal health and wellbeing, within changing societal expectations.
• Clinical, epidemiological, pathophysiological, biosecurity, surveillance and regulatory skills in management of enzootic and exotic animal diseases which are of local, international and/or emerging importance.
• Entry level capability (i.e. to meet OIE Standards www.oie.int) in preventive medicine/epidemiology, zoonoses, food safety and hygiene, regulation of animals and animal products, and management of the interrelationship of animals and the environment; including experience in abattoirs.

Educational experience in ethics

AVBC requires that graduates meet Day 1 competences in ethics and professional behaviour, as set out in the ‘Attributes of a Veterinary Graduate’ and the RCVS “Day 1 Competences’.

The RCVS Day 1 Competences (AVBC Standards p 89) require students to:
• Be fully conversant with, and follow the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct” (which includes ethics),
• Understand the ethical and legal responsibilities of the veterinary surgeon in relation to patients, clients, society and the environment”.
• Have an underpinning knowledge and understanding of “the ethical framework within which veterinary surgeons should work, including important ethical theories that inform decision-making in procession and animal welfare-related ethics”.

The AVBC Attributes are more specific, and require that students must develop:
• An appreciation of the complexity of ethical issues, the diversity of stakeholder perspectives and the range of cultural values;
• A desire to promote animal welfare;
• An awareness of the need to communicate with clients, including fully involving them in planning and management;
• An ability to recognise when a clinical problem exceeds their capacity to deal with it safely and efficiently, and of the need to refer the case for help from others when this occurs;
• A willingness to work effectively in a team with other relevant professionals;
• A recognition that it is not always in the interests of clients to do everything that is technically possible to make a precise diagnosis or attempt to modify the course of a disease;
• Recognition of the critical role of veterinarians in biosecurity and in the management of veterinary issues that have national and international implications.
• Basic understanding of personal and business finances and management
• A capacity for self-management, including identifying and meeting personal learning needs, maintaining wellbeing and professional relationships.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Curricula, Question 4
 
Agency Narrative
Evaluation of the education in ethics and professionalism

The standards for evaluating the mechanisms a school has in place to monitor and evaluate the success of the instruction in ethics are part of Standard 8 – Assessment – (Exhibit 4-AVBC Standards, p 23).

In this context, the expectation of program learning outcomes relating to ethical and professional behaviour, is reflected in an expectation that these behaviours are assessed as part of the program. Thus, assessment strategies must allow the School to certify student achievement of these learning objectives, allow the demonstration of progressive development across the program towards entry level competence, and provide constructive and timely feedback must be provided to help guide student learning. It is expected that data on these assessments will be provided as part of Standard 8 ‘Assessment’.

Schools are expected to provide stakeholder data on the attainment of skills in animal and patient care and of ethical and professional behaviour of their graduated. These are usually presented in the context of Standard 12 ‘Outcomes’
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Curricula, Question 5
 
Agency Narrative
The use of animals in teaching and research is governed by national/state legislation. In New Zealand, the primary legislation is the Animal Welfare Act 1999 (http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/legislation/animal-welfare-act/index.htm), and there is similar legislation in each of the States and Territories of Australia. Each of these require that all use of animals in teaching and research has to be compliant with relevant welfare legislation and codes of practice, and is overseen/approved by a formally-constituted Animal Ethics Committee (AEC). Use of animals that is sanctioned by an AEC is subject to audit by the AEC and by territorial animal ethics enforcement agencies.

AVBC requires that all teaching and learning activities are enabled by Animal Ethics Committee approval. It sets out more detailed requirements in Standard 3 ‘Facilities and Equipment’ and Standard 9 ‘Pre- and Para-clinical Animals and Related Resources’. These standards specify that the institutions' livestock facilities, animal housing, core clinical teaching facilities and equipment must:
• Be sufficient in capacity, fit for purpose, of a high standard and well maintained, (e.g. Be compliant with national health and medical research council code (for example in Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council Code https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/r39).
• Promote best husbandry, welfare and management practices
• Ensure relevant biosecurity and biocontainment
• Be designed to enhance learning
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Curricula, Question 6
 
Agency Narrative
Clinical training

The standards of clinical expertise that are expected of a new graduate are clearly stated in the Attributes of Veterinary Graduates (Exhibit 4, AVBC Accreditation Standards Page 86). Several of the AVBC standards relate to clinical training; in particular: Standard 3 ‘Facilities and Equipment’, Standard 7 ‘Curriculum, Standard 9 ‘Pre- and Para-Clinical Animals and Related Resources’ and Standard 10 ‘Clinical Skills Development’. Standard 7 (Curriculum) requires, inter alia, that

The curriculum must be constructed in an orderly and concise manner to ensure that graduates achieve:

• Knowledge of … pathophysiology, mechanisms of disease and the natural history and clinical manifestations of important animal diseases.
• Expertise in medicine, surgery and anaesthesia applicable to a broad range of common species
• Skills in physical examination and laboratory diagnostic techniques and interpretation, including
-Clinical pathology, diagnostic imaging and necropsy,
-Therapy (including surgery and pharmacotherapeutics),
-patient management and care (including intensive care, emergency medicine, and isolation procedures) for individual animals, herds, flocks and other populations.
• Clinical, epidemiological, pathophysiological, biosecurity, surveillance and regulatory skills in management of enzootic and exotic animal diseases which are of local, international and/or emerging importance.
• Entry level capability in preventive medicine/epidemiology...

Standard 7.3 (Page 56) also requires that students undertake (i) extramural instruction in livestock/animal husbandry and handling, and (ii) clinical experience placements.

Standard 10 (Clinical Skills Development) requires that the school must provide evidence that the quality, quantity and diversity of caseload are sufficient to support high quality clinical instruction that provides students with knowledge, skills, professional attributes and learning strategies to prepare them for entry level practice. Specifically:
• Adequate clinical material must be available, including all of the major species relevant to veterinary practice in Australia and New Zealand, and other species such as wildlife, rodents, birds and fish.
• There must be a diverse caseload of hospitalised patients, outpatients, field service/ambulatory clinic patients and herd health/production medicine cases is provided, whether through intramural services, and/or contracted placements.
• Practical, hands-on clinical instruction and experience must account for at least 30 per cent of the entire curriculum.
• Clinical instruction must embody depth, breadth, rigour, intellectual challenge and problem solving.
Finally, the AVBC standards stipulate minima of clinical material that is available to students are outlined in Exhibit 4, Ratios Page 85.

Post graduate degrees, resident and intern training

The inter-relationship between teaching and research is mandated in national legislation governing the activities tertiary education insititutions. For example, in New Zealand, the Education Act, 1989 stipulates that Universities’ ‘research and teaching are closely interdependent and most of their teaching is done by people who are active in advancing knowledge {and Universities} meet international standards of research and teaching’

This emphasis of national legislation is most strongly reflected in AVBC Standard 11 ‘Continuing and Higher Degree Education and Research’ (p24), which requires that veterinary schools must demonstrate significant and broad research activities of staff that integrate with and strengthen the veterinary degree program through research-led teaching.

Secondly, the Secondly, the Australian Qualifications Framework and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority require that there is a significant research component in all Level 8 or 9 degrees (see Section 2(e)). Hence, AVBC also requires (Standard 11) that veterinary students must have opportunities to observe and participate in research programs as mandatory or elective components of their curriculum.

Standard 11 further requires Veterinary schools provide advanced postgraduate degree programs, internships, residencies and continuing education programs that complement and strengthen the veterinary degree program and are relevant to the needs of the profession and community.

Specialist standards: The AVBC, through its Advisory Committee on the Registration of Veterinary Specialists advises the registration authorities in Australia and New Zealand on all matters relating to the registration of veterinary specialists. The requirements for specialisation are outlined in the AVBC Minimum Standards document (Exhibit 13) which outlines the minimum requirements for specialist training programs and the evidence of attainment of the standards of specialist practice.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Student Achievement, Question 1
 
Agency Narrative
Evaluation and student progression are covered in AVBC Standard 3 ‘Admission and Progression’ and Standard 8 “Assessment’. Veterinary schools are free to establish the methods that they use to achieve these standards, although it is required that program learning outcomes will form the basis for assessment design and underpin decisions on progression.

It is expected that the Program learning outcomes will form the basis of the assessment/evaluation of students, will inform assessment design and will underpin decisions on progression. Thus, assessment strategies and tasks must:
• Align with course and subject learning objectives and learning activities.
• Allow the school to certify student achievement of learning objectives at the level of the program and individual units of study.
• Allow the demonstration of progressive development across the program towards entry level competence.
• Provide constructive and timely feedback must be provided to help guide student learning
• Use a variety of formative and summative assessment approaches.
• Be planned and managed to achieve appropriate workloads for students and staff

Direct assessment of clinical skills, whether on real or simulated patients, must form a significant component of the overall process of assessment in the clinical disciplines. Workplace learning placements must have learning outcomes that contribute to the attainment of graduate attributes with associated assessments.

There must be procedures (i.e. academic peer review of assessment content, proofing of scripts, supervision and invigilation, maintenance of records and moderation processes in place to maximise the fairness, validity and reliability of assessment outcomes). Moderation processes must be in place to ensure parity within and between individual units of study, across the program, with other Institutions; and to ensure that each student is fairly treated.

The assessment tasks and grading criteria for each unit of study in a program must be clearly identified and available to students early in each semester.
Requirements to pass including the effect of barrier assessments will be explicit. The School will be able to demonstrate they have appropriate measures in place to ensure that grades awarded reflect an appropriate standard of performance by students against the relevant learning objectives. The basis for decisions on academic progression must be explicit and readily available to the students, and mechanisms for students to appeal against assessment outcomes must be explicit.

The school must provide evidence that it has mechanisms in place to (i) identify and provide remediation and appropriate support (including termination) for students who are not performing adequately (including areas such as: practical animal handling and client communication); (ii) monitor attrition and progression and be able to rectify problems as required.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Student Achievement, Question 2
 
Agency Narrative
There is no specific requirement for NAVLE preparation under AVBC standards. However, Australasian schools accredited by AVMA that admit significant numbers of American students will comply with the AVMA requirements. For schools that are not AVMA accredited, it should be noted that AVBC accreditation standards are benchmarked to the AVMA standards, so the curriculum coverage in Australasian schools is very similar to those in North America. For joint AVMA Coe/AVBC site visits to the five of the eight Australasian veterinary schools which undergo AVMA CoE accreditation the AVBC accepts the AVMA CoE standards.

The AVBC itself offers trial testing for the Australian National Veterinary Examination Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) examination (www.avbc.asn.au/nve) to Australasian schools which serves the dual purpose of benchmarking examination questions and preparing students for the NAVLE. Moreover, AVBC expects veterinary schools to support candidates for the NAVLE by providing tutorial support, guidance about the process and assistance in preparing for the examination. Australasian veterinary schools all require final year students to pass final summative examinations in the final year: these examinations will capture all the essential elements of the NAVLE. Thus students who also want to sit the NAVLE should all be well prepared to do so.

Benchmarking of veterinary programs is described under outcomes data(Exhibit 4, Standard 12), which demonstrates the high average pass rate for those Australasian graduates who sit the NAVLE examination.

NAVLE pass rates are provided in the Standard 12 “Outcomes” chapter of Self Study Reports of the five schools that undertake international site visits. An example this data may be found on page 88 of Exhibit 8 the Self Study Report submitted by The University of Melbourne or page 85 of the Massey University Self Study Report Exhibit 11.

Staff Analysis:
The agency notes there is no specific requirement for NAVLE preparation under its standards. Nonetheless, five of the eight Australasian schools have joint accreditation visits with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which does emphasize the NAVLE. The agency also notes that the Australasia standards are benchmarked to the AVMA standards providing for similar curriculum coverage. As well, the narrative seems to refer to benchmarking data in Exhibit 4 that “demonstrates the high average pass rate for those Australasian graduates who sit the NAVLE examination.” However, Department staff did not locate that data in Exhibit 4 (AVBC Accreditation Standards).
Therefore, some additional information is requested.
Can you provide the benchmarking data that demonstrates the high average pass rate for those Australasian graduates who sit for the NAVLE?

AVBC response:
NAVLE pass rates are provided in the Standard 12 “Outcomes” chapter of Self Study Reports of the five schools that undertake international site visits. Examples of this data may be found on page 88 of Exhibit 8 the Self Study Report submitted by The University of Melbourne and page 85 of the Massey University Self Study Report Exhibit 11.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
The agency notes there is no specific requirement for NAVLE preparation under its standards. Nonetheless, five of the eight Australasian schools have joint accreditation visits with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which does emphasize the NAVLE. The agency also notes that the Australasia standards are benchmarked to the AVMA standards providing for similar curriculum coverage. As well, the narrative seems to refer to benchmarking data in Exhibit 4 that “demonstrates the high average pass rate for those Australasian graduates who sit the NAVLE examination.” However, Department staff did not locate that data in Exhibit 4 (AVBC Accreditation Standards).

Seeking additional information from the agency, Department staff asked the following:
Can you provide the benchmarking data that demonstrates the high average pass rate for those Australasian graduates who sit for the NAVLE?

In its response, the agency noted that NAVLE pass rates are provided in the Standard 12 “Outcomes” chapter of Self Study Reports of the five schools that undertake international site visits. In addition, examples of this data may be found on page 88 of Exhibit 8b the Self Study Report submitted by The University of Melbourne and page 85 of the Massey University Self Study Report Exhibit 11. Department staff notes that both examples document high pass rates on the NAVLE.

Therefore, based on its review of the total data that has been submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Student Achievement, Question 3
 
Agency Narrative
AVBC requires that all schools to have mechanisms to routinely gather data to (i) demonstrate that its institutional and educational objectives are being met and (ii) to inform future decision-making about the development of the program (Standard 12 ‘Outcomes Assessment’). Specifically, the school must provide evidence that its:
• Mission is being achieved;
• Strategic goals are appropriate and that progress is being made towards achieving those goals
• Veterinary program is subject to internal and external evaluation and validation processes
• Institutional outcomes (e.g. paper publications, research grant income) are being met.

The evidence that must be produced is wide ranging and schools have a measure of discretion about the outcomes data that they report. Nonetheless, minima for reporting include:
• Student outcomes:
-Progression and attrition rates. Veterinary schools normally have very low attrition rates, and any pattern of high attrition, or poor progression rates between years would be considered as a matter of concern as these could indicate problems with tuition, assessment processes or admissions criteria.
-Students’ evaluations of units of study, segments of the program and/or the entire program. Meeting with students from all years of the program is a routine part of a accreditation site visit.
-External examiners’ and examination moderators’ opinions on the assessment process and students’ performance in assessments.
• Graduate outcomes:
-Employment rates of graduates (within one year of graduation)
-Demonstration of achievement of AVBC Graduate Attributes and RCVS Day 1 competences (all of its graduates must have achieved the level of competence required of an entry-level veterinarian (AVBC Attributes of Veterinary Graduates and RCVS Day 1 competences) and the program’s stated learning outcomes)
-Assessments of graduating final year students (e.g. external assessment, graduating class course evaluations of their experience etc.)
-Assessment by employers of graduates to determine satisfaction with graduates. Meeting with employers of graduates is also a routine part of an accreditation site visit
• Institutional outcomes
-How the school evaluates progress in meeting its mission (e.g. benchmarking with other institutions
-Significant indicators of the quality of the educational process (e.g. staff awards, staff perception of teaching resources, student satisfaction with the program, teaching improvement benchmarks etc.)
-Outside opinion, including that of former students and other advisory groups, as to whether it is achieving its objectives.

AVBC places strong emphasis on the procedures that are in place to review this evidence, and that there is demonstrable implementation of change on the basis of such review. Outcomes of the review process must be communicated to relevant internal and external stakeholders.

Staff Analysis:
The agency notes there is a strong emphasis in place to review evidence of successful student outcomes. However, there was no evidence linked to the narrative response to document what the agency considers successful student achievement.
Therefore, some additional information is requested.
Does your agency establish student performance outcomes measures, benchmarks, or requirements for schools, such as acceptable numbers of graduates from the school passing a licensing examination, to determine whether to grant accreditation or approval to the school? If yes, please provide the outcomes requirements.

AVBC Response:
Successful student achievement must be measured using a range of instruments against clearly designed outcomes reflecting graduates understanding of the biological principles and processes of veterinary significance, that they meet AVBC Graduate Attributes and RCVS Day 1 competences, and have skills that are consistent with the mission of the school.
The Assessment standard (4.8, p23) states that there must be procedures in place to maximise the fairness, validity and reliability of assessment outcomes, including but not limited to academic peer review of assessment content, proofing of scripts, supervision and invigilation, maintenance of records and moderation processes.
Schools must have appropriate moderation processes in place to ensure parity within and between individual units of study, across the program, with other Institutions; and to ensure that each student is fairly treated.
It may be argued that MCQ tests, such as the NAVLE are inappropriate instruments for benchmarking university-level courses. Such tests are generally acknowledged to be poor at testing higher order cognition such as synthesis, creative thinking and problem solving and have been shown, when they are used for summative assessment, to encourage students to adopt superficial approaches (see for example Scouller, 1998) and are very subject to cultural bias.
There is to be no comparison with other institutions (AVBC Protocol 3.3.1).
Scouller, K.M. (1998) The influence of assessment method on students' learning approaches: Multiple choice question examination versus assignment essay. Higher Education, 35, 453-472.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
The agency notes there is a strong emphasis in place to review evidence of successful student outcomes. However, there was no evidence linked to the narrative response to document what the agency considers successful student achievement.

Seeking additional information from the agency, Department staff asked the following:
Does your agency establish student performance outcomes measures, benchmarks, or requirements for schools, such as acceptable numbers of graduates from the school passing a licensing examination, to determine whether to grant accreditation or approval to the school? If yes, please provide the outcomes requirements.

In its response, the agency indicated that it does not establish student performance outcomes measures, benchmarks, or requirements for schools. However, the agency noted that it requires student achievement to be measured using a range of instruments against clearly designed outcomes reflecting graduates’ understanding of the biological principles and processes of veterinary significance; that they meet AVBC Graduate Attributes and RCVS Day 1 competences; and have skills that are consistent with the mission of the school.

Therefore, based on its review of the total data that has been submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Admissions and Recruiting, Question 1
 
Agency Narrative
AVBC recognizes that the admission to a veterinary school is, in effect, the key proxy for entry to the profession, inasmuch as the vast majority of students who are admitted to a veterinary degree program will eventually be entitled to register as veterinary practitioners. Whilst each university has its own criteria for admission of veterinary students, it is important that the veterinary school undertakes the initial selection process and makes on-going progression decisions with a view to students’ eventual status as veterinary professionals.

Potential students must be advised of the demands of the veterinary course and requirements of veterinary registration boards for fitness to practise. An accurate description of the selection criteria and processes must be published and readily available to potential students. English language standards at the point of graduation must conform to the current requirements of AVBC.

The student selection criteria must be consistent with the mission of the school. The number of students admitted must be consistent with the resources available to the school.

The selection criteria must be clearly defined, consistent, defensible and, except where explicit affirmative action in favour of nominated equity and diversity groups is used, free of discrimination or bias. The school must have clear strategies for managing the selection of equity and diversity groups. There must be clear policies and procedures as to how applicants with disabilities or illness will be considered and, if appropriate, accommodated.

For postgraduate veterinary professional programs, the prerequisites for entry to the veterinary program must provide foundational biological sciences upon which the professional education can be built. Clear processes must be in place to manage applications to provide credit for prior learning.

Factors other than academic performance must be considered for admission criteria.

The basis for decisions on academic progression must be explicit and readily available to the students. The school must provide evidence that it has mechanisms in place to identify and provide remediation and appropriate support (including termination) for students who are not performing adequately (including areas such as: practical animal handling and client communication). The School must have mechanisms in place to monitor attrition and progression and be able to rectify problems as required.

Policies and procedures for dealing with student misconduct and poor academic performance should be explicit. The process for exclusion of students should be explicit.

Policies for managing appeals against academic decisions, including admissions and progression decisions, must be transparent and publicly available.

The school must regularly review and reflect on the selection processes to ensure they are appropriate for students to successfully complete the program.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
The agency does not establish universal requirements for admission to a veterinary school. The agency ensures that each university has its own criteria for admission of veterinary students; that those criteria are clearly stated and in keeping with the school’s mission; and that they support the admission of students who are expected to succeed and become registered veterinarians.
 
Admissions and Recruiting, Question 2
 
Agency Narrative
Information on each of the aforegoing points is required from veterinary schools as part of the accreditation (site visit) process. Key points are also required in the schools’ annual reports. During an accreditation visit, the school’s management and staff are questioned on the workings of the admissions process. Documentary evidence is considered, and staff and students questioned about their perceptions of the process. The visiting team will expect to be shown evidence of on-going training of admissions team, and evidence that the school monitors the effectiveness of its policies.

Key information that is required during an accreditation visit includes explanations of how:
• The selection criteria are determined, and their consistency with the mission of the school
• The number of student places is determined, and any proposed changes in the number of students to be admitted
• Information related to selection and admissions is provided to the public
• The school reviews and reflects on and revises the selection process

Schools are also expected to provide data on the proportions of successful/unsuccessful applications for places in the program, and on student attrition, progression and graduation rates.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Admissions and Recruiting, Question 3
 
Agency Narrative
Any school, independent of location, is required to meet Standard 5 for Admission and Progression. Although there are minimum requirements set by individual universities in terms of prerequisites and language, there are no higher requirements for admission in Australia and New Zealand than those set by AVBC.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.

 
Facilities, Question 1
 
Agency Narrative
The requirements of AVBC relating to facilities, equipment and supplies are contained Standards 3, 6 and 9 (Exhibit 4 - AVBC Accreditation Standards Pages 19-24).

Standard 3 ‘Facilities and Equipment’ requires that all aspects of the physical facilities must provide an environment conducive to learning. Facilities must comply with all relevant jurisdictional legislation including health, safety, biosecurity and animal care standards.

Lecture theatres, teaching laboratories, tutorial rooms, clinical facilities and other teaching spaces must be adequate in number, size and equipped for the instructional purposes and must be well maintained. Ready access to adequate study, recreation, locker and food services facilities is required for students.

Core clinical teaching facilities may be provided on campus or externally. The school must ensure standards of these teaching clinics remain comparable with industry standards (e.g. for small animal practices, ASAVA hospital standards), through regular review.

Students must have access to a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic facilities, including but not limited to: pharmacy, diagnostic imaging, anaesthesia, clinical pathology, intensive/critical care, surgeries and treatment facilities, ambulatory services and necropsy facilities. Appropriate isolation facilities must be provided in all core teaching hospitals to meet the need for the isolation and containment of animals with communicable diseases. Such isolation facilities must be properly constructed, ventilated, maintained and operated to provide for animal care in accordance with accepted modern methods for prevention of spread of infectious agents.

Offices, teaching preparation and research laboratories must be sufficient for the needs of the academic and support staff.

The university must have a clear strategy and program for maintaining and upgrading its buildings and equipment.

Standard 9 ‘Pre and Para-Clinical Animals and Related Resources’ requires that:
Normal and diseased animals of various domestic, native and exotic species must be available for students to develop their pre-clinical and clinical skills. This includes a sufficient, reliable supply of live animals, cadavers and teaching materials of animal origin to enable students to develop expertise in necropsy, food hygiene and veterinary public health, including access to abattoirs.
The school must provide supervised access to, and hands-on experience with, a sufficient number and variety of animals of the main domestic species to ensure that students become competent in their handling and develop knowledge of their husbandry and behaviour.
Schools must conduct effective assessment to ensure that students have competence in animal handling before commencing workplace learning and clinical work.
Veterinary schools must either maintain herds or flocks of teaching animals of the main large animal species (cattle, sheep, pigs and horses) or arrange right of use at readily accessible premises.

Standard 3 further requires that the institutions' livestock facilities, animal housing, core clinical teaching facilities and equipment must:
• be sufficient in capacity,
• be of a high standard and well maintained, (e.g. be compliant with NHMRC code).
• be fit for purpose,
• promote best husbandry, welfare and management practices
• ensure relevant biosecurity and biocontainment
• be designed to enhance learning

Under Standard 6 ‘Students and Learning Support’, the school must provide students with access to learning resources which include scientific literature, text books, internet and internal study resources, and equipment for the development of procedural skills (e.g. models). It will demonstrate that the resources provided are sufficient and appropriate to meet the learning goals of the program. These requirements specifically include the provision of library, IT and internet access to students at both on-campus and off-campus locations.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Facilities, Question 2
 
Agency Narrative
All of the veterinary schools offer part of the education program at of-campus locations. None of them offer the entire program though such locations. Components of the curriculum which are typically offered off-campus are (i) farm practical work (ii) abattoir experience and (ii) aspects of core and non-core clinical teaching.
A university may sub-contract with another organisation (e.g. farm, private veterinary practice, charity animal shelter, commercial abattoir) for the provision of facilities/access to animals. The university remains responsible throughout for the quality of training provided. Regardless of delivery models, all core training must be delivered to the same quality standards. Thus, core clinical teaching facilities (whether on- or off-campus) are expected to be of a standard that is comparable with the best available in the private sector, (e.g. for small animal practices, ASAVA hospital standards. All training, whether undertaken off campus by external organisations under contract, or on campus in facilities owned by the university, are subjected to meeting the same accreditation standards. Core training sites are visited by AVBC as part of the accreditation inspection process. Staff involved in the assessment and evaluation of students (whether on- or off-campus) must be fully qualified and trained in the principles of teaching and assessment.

AVBC’s expectations for farm and other pre-clinical practical work, and informal off-campus instruction are covered in Standard 7 ‘Curriculum (Section 7.3 ‘Extra-mural Studies’. This requires that
-Workplace learning placements must have learning outcomes that contribute to the attainment of graduate attributes with associated assessments. Mechanisms to allow workplace learning providers to critique the workplace learning program are required. Academic staff must be responsible for the overall supervision of all types of workplace learning. The School must have processes to liaise with workplace learning providers and ensure that all students secure required placements.
-The School must provide workplace learning opportunities in animal husbandry practical work to develop students’ competence in animal management and understanding farm systems. Preclinical training in animal husbandry can include working with domesticated and non-domesticated animals.
-The clinical teaching program must be supported by extramural clinical activities in which students actively participate in the workup, management and treatment of patients.

In past editions of AVBC standards a separate list of requirements for ‘Distributed’ or ‘Off-Campus’ clinical sites was included (see Exhibit 5- Policies Procedures and Standards p 102). As it became clear that core teaching facilities must maintain equally high standards to intramural facilities, the standards for on- and off-campus instruction were merged. However, to ensure that all standards for remote sites are assessed by site team members, a checklist devised by the AVMA is used (Exhibit 4- AVBC Accreditation Standards, p168)

Although AVBC does not require that clinical instructors at off-site facilities such as contracted practices are members of faculty it does, however, require that:
i) “The schools must “demonstrate that off campus facilities used in core curriculum instruction: are of a standard comparable to those in intramural facilities and meet those of national accreditation standards”; noting that staffing qualifications/levels are implicit in these national accreditation standards
ii) Staff members who participate in teaching must display competence and effective teaching skills in relevant aspects of the curriculum, regardless of whether they are full or part time, residents, interns or postgraduate students, adjuncts or off-campus contracted teachers.” (Standard 5: Academic & Support Staff)
It also requires that:
• Academic staff must be responsible for the overall supervision of all types of workplace learning (Standard 5.7.3: Extra-mural studies)
• There must be mechanisms to ensure that all clinical placements are supervised, well organised and subject to appropriate quality assurance processes” (Standard 10: clinical skills development).
• There are formal contractual relationships with external sites, normally based upon a ‘fee-for-service’ arrangement: Standard 1 requires that; The school is able to assure the AVBC of the continuity of core curricular partnerships with MOUs/Contracts in place”
• External providers are trained in assessment (Standard 8: Assessment)
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Facilities, Question 3
 
Agency Narrative
Contracts/agreements with an external teaching providers/sites must be formal, legally binding documents. These are inspected as part of an AVBC accreditation site visit.

External organisations and any off-campus clinical sites selected by the school to provide core teaching should receive appropriate financial or other remuneration to ensure that students receive on-site supervised instruction.

There should be a formal written contract or signed agreement between the university and the organisation concerned setting out expectations on both sides, to ensure that standards will be maintained for the duration of the students’ training. Such contracts or agreements should include reference to (i) resources, staffing, access of students to clinical material, and their active participation in the workup, management and treatment of patients; (ii) the need for compliance with data protection, grievance procedures and communications channels for reporting problems on both sides and (ii) expectations of students’ conduct whilst in external placements.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Facilities, Question 4
 
Agency Narrative
As part of the Self Study Report and accreditation process, schools are required (Exhibit 4 - AVBC Standard 10 ‘Clinical Skills Development’) to describe the organization of clinical services which the School utilises to support student learning, the mechanisms used to ensure that all clinical placements are supervised, well organized and subject to appropriate quality assurance processes, and to provide evidence of systematic review and reflection (e.g. through assessment outcomes and student, staff and extramural practitioner feedback) on the effectiveness of the clinical educational experience.

The school is required to explain the extent and responsibilities of distributed and off campus clinical teaching, including a description of the planning, supervision, and monitoring of students and the contractual relationships with placement providers (including health and safety compliance). This explanation covers both core and non-core off-campus clinical placements.

Similarly, the school is required to demonstrate that off campus facilities used in core curriculum instruction are of a standard comparable to those in intramural facilities and meet relevant national accreditation standards (e.g. Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association accreditation standards) and have dedicated learning spaces with access to university learning resources.

There must be evidence (e.g. through contracts with each site/organisation) that there are sufficient places available in total to match the training needs of the student intake.

Taken as a whole, arrangements with off-campus sites/organisations should be secured sufficiently far in advance to ensure stability of provision for students over successive cohorts during the period of accreditation. The university must have suitable contingency plans to cover any possible shortfalls.

Relevant veterinary legislation in New Zealand and each of the states and territories of Australia enables students in the clinical part of their course to examine animals, carry out diagnostic tests under the direction of a registered veterinarian, administer treatment under the supervision of a registered veterinarian and perform surgical procedures under the direct and continuous supervision of a registered veterinarian.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Student Complaints
 
Agency Narrative
The expectations of AVBC regarding student welfare (including the management of complaint processes) are covered in (Exhibit 4-AVBC Accreditation Standards) Standard 6 ‘Students and Learning Support’.

Provisions must be made, by either the University or School, to support the physical, emotional and welfare needs of students. This includes, but is not limited to, learning support and counselling services, careers advice, and fair and transparent processes for dealing with student harassment, illness, impairment and disability during the program. This shall include provision of reasonable accommodations for disabled students and support for students from nominated equity and diversity groups, consistent with all relevant disability, discrimination and/or human rights legislation.

There must be effective mechanisms for resolution of student grievances (e.g. interpersonal conflict or harassment).

Mechanisms must be in place by which students can convey their needs and wants to the School.

Each school must provide students a mechanism, anonymously if they wish, to offer suggestions, comments and complaints regarding compliance of the school with the AVBC standards for accreditation. These materials, including the response of the school to the complaint, must be made available to AVBC as part of the annual report.

Policies for managing appeals against academic decisions, including admissions and progression decisions, must be transparent and publicly available.

As part of the accreditation visit, the site team meet students from all years of the programme without faculty staff members being present (Exhibit 4 AVBC Accreditation Standards Page 105). A session is also timetabled during the visit for any staff member or student to meet confidentially with the visiting team and to send confidential communications to the team by e-mail before or during the visit. The confidential session must be advertised by the school to staff and students beforehand, and the contact details of the Executive Officer of AVBC provided, so that individuals can communicate privately with the visiting team if they wish. The session must be held in a location where students can attend without faculty staff members being aware of their attendance. (AVBC Accreditation Standards Page 108).

Staff Analysis:
The agency’s standards require that each school must provide students with a mechanism to offer suggestions, comments and complaints regarding compliance of the school with the AVBC standards for accreditation. In addition, the agency requires that these materials, including the response of the school to the complaint, must be made available to AVBC as part of the annual report.
The agency also has a standard (3.7 Final Decision on Accreditation) that indicates the site team’s evaluation report and the school’s self-study “are the sole basis for the accreditation decision rendered by the AVBC.”
Therefore, some additional information is requested.
Is there an opportunity in your agency’s decision-making process to consider serious complaints about a school related to the areas covered by your agency’s accreditation standards?

AVBC response

If there is any risk that the standard of graduates from any Australian or New Zealand veterinary school is not satisfactory for registration purposes, VSAAC has a responsibility to take action.
Further to that quoted above, in section 3.7 Final Decision on Accreditation, the decision is normally made without consideration of events (apart from any review) that occur subsequent to the site visit (p13).
If required, such as when annual reports appear unsatisfactory, further recommendations for action as agreed by VSAAC and by the members of AVBC should be sent to the Vice Chancellor by the chair of VSAAC (p14).
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
The agency’s standards require that each school must provide students with a mechanism to offer suggestions, comments and complaints regarding compliance of the school with the AVBC standards for accreditation. In addition, the agency requires that these materials, including the response of the school to the complaint, must be made available to AVBC as part of the annual report.

The agency also has a standard (3.7 Final Decision on Accreditation) that indicates the site team’s evaluation report and the school’s self-study “are the sole basis for the accreditation decision rendered by the AVBC.”

Seeking additional information from the agency, Department staff asked the following:
Is there an opportunity in your agency’s decision-making process to consider serious complaints about a school related to the areas covered by your agency’s accreditation standards?

In its response, the agency indicated that if there is any risk that the standard of graduates from any Australian or New Zealand veterinary school is not satisfactory for registration purposes, VSAAC has a responsibility to take action. The agency also noted that the final decision on accreditation is normally made without consideration of events (apart from any review) that occur subsequent to the site visit.

Therefore, based on its review of the total data that has been submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Part 3: Accreditation/Approval Processes and Procedures
Accreditation Process and Procedures, Question 1
 
Agency Narrative
The qualifications of site team members is outlined in AVBC Accreditation Standards (Exhibit 4 p5,6 ) as follows:

The AVBC appoints site visit team members on the recommendation of the Chair of VSAAC or an alternate visit Chair and the Executive Officer of AVBC.
The AVBC, on the basis of recommendations from member boards, VSAAC, CVDANZ, AVA, NZVA and other interested parties, will compile and maintain a list of veterinarians with suitable qualifications, drawn largely but not exclusively from VSAAC members to participate as members of site visit teams. The AVBC desires to include veterinarians from a variety of backgrounds including veterinarians from general practice, specialists, academics from pre-clinical and clinical areas of study, or other sectors of veterinary employment including public health and research.
In determining whether a person will be included on the list of veterinarians eligible to be appointed as a member of a site visit team AVBC will consider whether the person:
• has experience as a member of a site visit team;
• is registered as a veterinarian in Australia or New Zealand;
• is of good character and standing within the profession;
• has extensive experience in a particular field of veterinary science, whether in private practice, as an academic in a preclinical or clinical area or other areas of veterinary endeavour;
• has experience in interpreting data and report writing;
• has knowledge and experience of statutory authorities’ requirements for registration;
• has knowledge and experience with the expectations of the veterinary profession and the public;
• possesses knowledge of the contemporary standards of competence expected of graduates at entry level to the profession;
• has knowledge of current educational developments including the funding and resourcing of Universities and their veterinary schools;
• possesses knowledge of curriculum development, implementation and has tertiary teaching experience;
• has experience as an academic in a veterinary school; and
• complies with the conflict of interest policy (2.4.1).
Additionally, when assembling a site visit team, VSAAC will seek to ensure suitable balance in or amongst:
• culture and gender,
• academia and private practice and
• expertise areas in academic administration, preclinical, para-clinical, animal management, public health, small animal practice, farm animal practice and equine practice.
The training of site team members is described on p6 in AVBC Accreditation Standards (Exhibit 4).
AVBC trainees who meet some or all of the criteria listed above receive personalized training as an observer on a site visit team. Trainees may take part in discussions during the visit and can contribute to discussions between the assessors. They must refrain from voting during meetings of the assessors on compliance with the standards.
A person appointed as an observer or trainee may at the invitation of the visit chair and with the agreement of the Dean be appointed to undertake the tasks normally undertaken by members of the team.
Normally the number of observers and trainees would be limited to 2. If it is not possible to identify a site team member who has received the training described, the Chair and Executive Officer ensure thorough briefing is provided in the months leading up to the site visit, during a teleconference held at least 2 weeks prior to the site visit and during the training afternoon held on the day prior to commencement of every site visit.
The individuals who establish the accreditation standards for veterinary schools,
The qualifications of the Chair and members of the Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee are listed in the AVBC Accreditation Standards (p4, and p6 Exhibit 4 page AVBC By-laws (Exhibit 2)

Chair of VSAAC
The following criteria have been identified by AVBC as the selection criteria for the Chair of VSAAC. The Chair shall:
• Be a registered veterinarian in an Australian jurisdiction or NZ;
• Be distinguished in the veterinary profession;
• Have experience as a senior academic manager; preferably as head of a veterinary school;
• Have demonstrated leadership qualities;
• Be an experienced report writer;
• Possess thorough knowledge and expertise of veterinary curricula with an understanding of the required knowledge, skills and attitudes and attributes set out in the Competency Standards;
• Have thorough knowledge and experience of the mechanisms within a veterinary school and university to implement the AVBC standards;
• Have knowledge of occupational health and safety aspects of veterinary education;
• Possess thorough knowledge of the expectations of the community towards veterinary graduates;
• Possess international experience allowing the Chair to advise the AVBC on matters such as international benchmarking;
• Be able to liaise with AVMA, RCVS, SAVC, other registering authorities and any relevant regional bodies;
• Provide a significant time commitment for the preparation of the veterinary school visits and any other incidental work that may arise from time to time
• Be able to communicate with all ages and experience levels
The Chair is appointed by AVBC following consultation with Council of Veterinary Deans of Australia and New Zealand, the Australian Veterinary Association and the New Zealand Veterinary Association, and subject to the criteria in section 2.4.2 (of AVBC Accreditation Standards) is eligible to serve as a site team member on accreditation visits.

Qualifications and Training of Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee members
Members of VSAAC are expected to have the attributes listed above for members of site teams. In addition, members must bring the experience of key stakeholders as outlined in the AVBC By-laws which describe seven members comprising 2 representatives appointed by the Council (one of whom shall be nominee of the Veterinary Council of New Zealand (VCNZ); (b) The Chairman appointed by the Council following consultation with the Committee of Deans, the AVA and the NZVA; (c) The nominee of the Australasian Veterinary Deans Committee. The Dean’s representative will have a key role in providing feedback to the Committee about the conduct of the visit, as well as participating as a member of the accreditation team; (d) 2 representatives appointed by the Australian Veterinary Association Ltd and one representative appointed by the New Zealand Veterinary Association Inc. (e) A Deputy Chair shall be elected by the committee.
f) In the event that a casual vacancy occurs, the replacement must be appointed from the organisation that appointed the member causing such vacancy.

Qualifications and training of the individuals who decide whether a specific veterinary school should be accredited.
The qualifications of members of individual state and territory veterinary boards and therefore of the individuals who vote at board level and then at Council level are by majority, that they be registered veterinary practitioners recognised by the veterinary profession and/ or with positions of high standing in the profession and appointed by the country, state or territory government minister. Voting members of boards normally also include a legal practitioner, a finance practitioner and a community member.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Accreditation Process and Procedures, Question 2
 
Agency Narrative
Site team members

Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee (VSAAC p7 Exhibit 4- AVBC Standards document)

VSAAC activities must follow procedures which are equitable, transparent and consistent. Accreditation site visits and assessment of annual reports must be conducted without any perception of bias.

To avoid any real or perceived conflict of interest in the accreditation of veterinary schools, the Conflict of Interest policy lists specific requirements which were based on the August 2000 AVMA Council on Education Policies and Procedures.

The AVBC policy on conflicts of interest and the additional requirements for accreditation apply to VSAAC members, members of site visit teams and AVBC support staff.

Conflict of Interest Policy for members of VSAAC and site visit team members
If a VSAAC or potential team member has reason to believe any conflicts of interest exist, that person must communicate with the Executive Officer of AVBC for clarification of their eligibility to serve. Any conflicts of interest will be revealed to the Dean of the school being visited before a visiting team is finalised.

No team member, trainee or observer shall serve on a site visit team nor shall any VSAAC member vote on annual reports who, within the last 10 years:
• is a graduate of any program in the veterinary school being evaluated or
• has significant collaborative research, teaching or service interests with a key administrator or faculty member of the veterinary school being evaluated (e.g. holding a patent interest, shared research grants or contract teaching) or
• is or has been employed or interviewed for employment by the veterinary school being evaluated. or
• has served as a consultant on accreditation matters with the veterinary school being evaluated or
• has a close personal or familial relationship with key personnel or students in the veterinary school being evaluated.
• is a member of a school in the same state as the school whose program is being assessed.

Conflict of Interest Policy for AVBC Staff
No AVBC Staff member will serve on a site visit team who:
• has graduated during the past 10 years from the veterinary school being evaluated
• has been employed during the past 10 years by the veterinary school being evaluated
• has close personal or familial relationship with key personnel or students in the veterinary school being evaluated.

The AVBC Accreditation Standards (Exhibit 4- p5) also describes the team selection process where at least three months prior to an accreditation visit to a veterinary school the AVBC will consult with the Dean of the veterinary school regarding the membership of the site visit team to ensure a balanced and independent assessment can be achieved.

Council Members (AVBC Conflict of Interest Policy V5 October 2014)
AVBC Representatives represent the perspective of their respective member board. As such it is acknowledged that a Representative’s contributions to AVBC’s discussions and decisions will normally reflect the views of their member Board and therefore not necessarily be influenced by any individual personal or professional interests.

In situations where an individual Representative has an interest in an issue under consideration, which may conflict or be perceived to conflict with their objectivity, this must be declared - but in the context of the collective view of their Board, in writing if considered necessary. In circumstances where the interest has been declared and the Representative is conveying the views of their Board it would be inappropriate for their views / vote to be discounted, but it may be decided that they do not participate in discussion on the issue.

In situations where an individual Representative declares an interest in an issue which has not been considered by their member board, this should be addressed as above i.e. with the AVBC Chair in consultation with other Representatives deciding whether the interest constitutes a material (significant) direct or indirect interest, and, if so how this conflict should be managed.

There is clear separation between any individuals involved as site visitor and those who consider the final report of the site visit team. The Chair of the site visit team may attend the AVBC Council meeting but does not take part in the discussion, except to answer questions, nor takes part in any voting.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Accreditation Process and Procedures, Question 3
 
Agency Narrative
The Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee (VSAAC) conducts annual reviews of the AVBC accreditation standards to assess them against contemporary requirements of the registering bodies, the profession, and the community. The committee is tasked to write unambiguous, clearly articulated and consistently applicable standards.

The templates for self evaluation in preparation for site visits and for annual reporting (p26 , p80 Exhibit 4- AVBC Standards for Accreditation) and the use of objective measures and indices where relevant (for example the Ratios p85) also support a consistent approach.

AVBC uses one site visit chair for all site visits except where the requirements of the conflict of interest policy cannot be satisfied. In such cases AVBC appoints an experienced assessor who meets the criteria for VSAAC Chair and the Executive Officer thoroughly briefs them prior to taking up the role of site visit chair.

The AVBC Executive Officer has thirteen years of AVBC accreditation experience and AVBC staff have well documented policies and procedures to facilitate consistent communication of accreditation requirements.

Site teams composition policies ensure a core of high caliber, experienced assessors. The recent adoption of a rubric (used for the first time at Massey University) provides further assurance that standards are applied consistently to all veterinary schools seeking accreditation (see Exhibit 4, AVBC Accreditation Standards p 109 - AVMA-AVBC-RCVS rubric and a draft checklist for off-site clinical facilities).

The culture of AVBC provides for continuous improvement of accreditation processes through reflection, feedback and review.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Accreditation Process and Procedures, Question 4
 
Agency Narrative
Self-study reports and site visit reports have been provided as follows:
Exhibit
7 Reasonable Assurance Report University of Adelaide
8a University of Melbourne Self Study Report 2012 Part A
8b Part B
9 University of Melbourne Self Study Report Addendum
11 Massey University Self Study Report
12 Massey University Accreditation Report
15 University of Adelaide Self Study Report
16 University of Adelaide accreditation report
17 University of Adelaide supplementary Self Study Report
18 University of Adelaide supplementary accreditation report

Staff Analysis:
This question was originally missing from the Department’s electronic system. Therefore, the agency did not provide a direct response to this specific question. (In response to a different question, the agency had provided some sample documentation regarding its overall onsite review process.)
Therefore, some additional information is requested.
Does each comprehensive on-site visit to a veterinary school include visits to all of the training/clinical sites (if any)?

AVBC Response
A comprehensive site visit to a veterinary school includes visits to all core training and clinical sites. If there has been a site visit within the previous two years, a detailed video of the clinical site would normally suffice.
The AVBC, through its partnership with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, also requires 26 weeks of extramural studies. Such studies take place in diverse workplaces both in Australia and sometimes overseas. Although important learning experiences, Extramural Studies are not defined as core curriculum.
Workplace learning placements must have learning outcomes that contribute to the attainment of graduate attributes with associated assessments. Mechanisms to allow workplace learning providers to critique the workplace learning program are required. Academic staff must be responsible for the overall supervision of all types of workplace learning. The School must have processes to liaise with workplace learning providers and ensure that all students secure required placements.
The School must provide workplace learning opportunities in animal husbandry practical work to develop students’ competence in animal management and understanding farm systems. Preclinical training in animal husbandry can include working with domesticated and non-domesticated animals.
The clinical teaching program must be supported by extramural clinical activities in which students actively participate in the workup, management and treatment of patients.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Accreditation Process and Procedures, Question 5
 
Agency Narrative
Following the procedure established by the AVBC and agreed by the Australasian Veterinary Deans Committee in 2008, VSAAC reviews the accreditation status of each veterinary school during its annual meeting (Exhibit 4- p 80, AVBC Accreditation Standards). For this purpose, VSAAC requires an annual report of activities in accredited schools each year, except those in which an accreditation visit occurs.
Attached is a sample monitoring report request letter, a sample report for the 2013 academic year of The University of Adelaide, the response from the VSAAC analysis of the Murdoch University annual report, the response arising from the VSAAC analysis of The University of Melbourne annual report and the report provided by The University of Melbourne regarding progress in response to the VSAAC requests (Exhibits 19 to 23).

Staff Analysis:
This question was originally missing from the Department’s electronic system. Therefore, the agency did not provide a direct response to this specific question.
Therefore, some additional information is requested.
Other than the annual report, does your agency use any other methods to monitor veterinary schools to ensure continued compliance with your standards?

AVBC Response
The agency monitors reports that address the status of veterinary educational establishments and their host universities within the veterinary literature and the daily press via the veterinary Boards of each state and territory and the Veterinary Council of New Zealand. If any aspect of performance is regarded as having the potential to negatively impact the standard of veterinary education, this is further investigated. The state and territory veterinary boards are the bodies that receive complaints about veterinarians and are able to monitor the situation should there be any complaints about the performance of recent graduates. Members of VSAAC also regularly attend national veterinary medical association meetings and interact with a broad range of members of the profession. Meetings are held with the Council of Veterinary Deans of Australia and New Zealand at least annually.

The agency also requires any student feedback on the performance of schools in relation to the standards to be provided annually. At site visits to schools there is the opportunity for staff and students to provide confidential feedback to site visit teams either electronically or in person.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Accreditation Process and Procedures, Question 6
 
Agency Narrative
Staff Analysis: This question was originally missing from the Department’s electronic system. Therefore, the agency did not provide a direct response to this specific question. Page 39 of 42 Therefore, some additional information is requested. Do you require veterinary schools to notify your agency of any substantive change to their educational program? If so, does your agency review that substantive change to determine if the school remains in compliance with the standards?

AVBC response:
It is a condition of accreditation that any changes to the educational program under any of the standards are required to be reported as part of the annual reporting process (p78). The purpose of the annual reporting process is to determine if the school remains in compliance with the standards.
VSAAC has no desire to make this reporting onerous and for those schools with AVMA accreditation the report prepared for AVMA supplemented by updated responses to each of the recommendations made in the most recent VSAAC visit and updated ratios will suffice. The annual report is to be sent to AVBC via email at least 8 weeks prior to the annual VSAAC meeting.
A school’s annual report must include the following on AVBC standards and the most recent VSAAC site visit report for the latest academic year:

Standard 1 - Organisation
Any changes in the administrative structure of the Faculty/ School and changes in senior appointments within the faculty
Standard 2 - Finance
Using a number of tables, show income and expenditure totals for the past five years, with comments on any major changes
Standard 3: Facilities and Equipment
Changes in the facilities and equipment that affect pre-clinical and clinical programs of the School.
Standard 4: Academic and Support Staff
Table 4.1.3: Loss and Recruitment of Staff (Both Academic & Clinical Equivalent)
Provide data for past five years:
Standard 5: Admission and Progression
a) Number of students enrolled in each year of the program in the previous year. Comment on any major changes involving students.
b) Changes made in the admission process for the school.
c) Student attrition rates, with reasons.
* Students that are either withdrawing from the program or moving to a different (earlier) class
** Students who leave and never return
Standard 6 - Students and Learning Support
a) Changes in the library, information resources or student support services that impact the programs and students of the school
b) Each School must provide a mechanism for students, anonymously if they wish, to offer suggestions, comments and complaints that relate to their course experience and specifically to provide feedback on each of the Standards. These comments and feedback must be made available annually to AVBC as part of each School’s interim report. (Complaints should be acknowledged and your report should relate how the school responded).
c) Employment rates of graduates (within one year of graduation).

Standard 7 - Curriculum
Significant changes in the curriculum or progress made in planned major revisions to the curriculum.
Standard 8 - Assessment
Any significant changes made to the assessment process in the previous year.
Standard 9 - Pre and Para Clinical Animals and Related Resources
Necropsies in the past five years by species.
Any changes in access to animals or animal resources used in pre-clinical teaching.
Standard 10 - Clinical Skills Development
Major changes in intramural and extramural clinical instruction and experience.
Accession numbers in the major teaching hospitals by species in the past five years. Update tables 10.1 through 10.8 annually.
Standard 11 - Continuing and Higher Degree Education and Research
Changes in postgraduate and continuing education in the previous year (Postgraduate Training and Continuing Education)
Significant changes in research activity of the School in the previous year.
Standard 12 - Outcomes Assessment
Any significant program changes in the previous year that have resulted from the knowledge the School gained from carrying out outcomes assessment.

Most recent VSAAC site visit report
Action taken in response to recommendations made in the last complete site visit evaluation and/or in response to the previous annual report feedback.

Ratios
Schools are asked to provide an update of AVBC indicator ratios (Annex 3 of Accreditation Standards document) for the latest academic year:
• Teacher/Student
• Teacher/Support staff
• Theoretical training/practical and clinical training
• Student/animal
• Student/post-mortem examination

See EXHIBIT 19: Letter requesting Annual Report from University of Adelaide
EXHIBIT 20: The University of Adelaide Annual Report
EXHIBIT 21: The VSAAC Response to the Murdoch Annual Report
EXHIBIT 22: The VSAAC Response to The University of Melbourne Annual Report
EXHIBIT 23: The Follow up Report from The University of Melbourne to VSAAC
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.
 
Accreditation Process and Procedures, Question 7
 
Agency Narrative
The procedures outlined in the Accreditation Standards document pages 9- 17 are written to ensure best practice in reaching decisions based on the twelve (12) standards.

The Outcomes Assessment standard (p26) requires that data is effectively used to evaluate the performance of students after graduation and to feed the learnings in to continuous improvement of the veterinary program.


Information sought from the school includes (but is not limited) to:

• Student outcomes:
- Employment rates of graduates (within one year of graduation)
- Demonstration of achievement of RCVS Day 1 competences
- Assessments of graduating final year students (e.g. external assessment, graduating class course evaluations of their experience etc.)
- Assessment by employers of graduates to determine satisfaction with graduates.

The full Council of AVBC ratifies each review of the AVBC Accreditation Standards. The most recent ratification occurred in February 2015. The State and Territory Veterinary Boards and the New Zealand Veterinary Council are well placed to review the standards as they monitor the practicing professionals within their jurisdictions. They are also well placed to effectively use the data to assess the recommendations from the VSAAC site teams against these agreed standards.

Provided there is no need for a review, the report of an evaluation developed by the site visit team, which includes the twelve (12) standards and comments of the team members and the related SER are the sole basis for the accreditation decision rendered by the AVBC.

Member boards which comprise veterinarians and lay members, will have up to 4 months to review the report independently and provide feedback to AVBC prior to the final decision on accreditation by AVBC.

Once the member board reaches agreement on the recommendations of the report, it will communicate its decision to the AVBC office or empower its representative to vote on the board’s behalf at the AVBC meeting where the accreditation is discussed.

At the AVBC meeting, the Chair of VSAAC or site visit team Chair where required, presents the evaluation report, related comment, and a recommendation for classification of accreditation. The Chair and/or the EO of AVBC also provide comment on the conduct of the visit. After discussion and full review of the report, the Council may revise the report and ultimately assigns a classification of accreditation to the veterinary school by a majority vote. The decision is normally made without consideration of events (apart from any review) that occur subsequent to the site visit.

Anyone present at the meeting who has a conflict of interest with the veterinary school under consideration must declare it and the matter must be resolved and recorded, before discussion and voting that leads to accreditation actions.

Staff Analysis:
This question was originally missing from the Department’s electronic system. Therefore, the agency did not provide a direct response to this specific question.
Therefore, some additional information is requested.
Are your accreditation decisions based, in part, on the effective use of data in evaluating the performance of students after graduation from the veterinary school? If so, please document how this is accomplished.

AVBC Response
As a part of the evidence provided in Standard 12, Outcomes, it is expected that schools will provide data (such as employer feedback results) on how well prepared graduates are for practice and other employment. It also is required that schools effectively analyse the data obtained and use findings to have a process of continuous improvement of the teaching program. Exhibit 11, The Massey University Self Study Report (pages 78-95) for example shows a range of data which is effectively used to evaluate the performance of Massey graduates.
 
Analyst Remarks to Narrative
Based on its review of the materials submitted by the agency, Department staff concludes that the requested information has been provided, and has been found to be satisfactory.