Monday, December 23, 2013
postgraduate affirmation with TEQSA accreditation
Big news for us at ACD/Uniting College: TEQSA (Tertiary Education Qualifications Standards Authority) in Australia has accredited our post-graduate courses for another 7 years, with no conditions attached.
That’s like getting A+ for an exam, the best result possible.
TEQSA ensure quality control for all universities and higher education providers in Australia. On a regular basis, they audit courses, asking for extensive evidence of what we are providing and the quality standards we are working toward.
This is followed by a site visit (ours was held in October) before review by an independent panel of academics from three other providers, before a report is provided to their Commission. It is an ardurous process, one that has taken a huge amount of time and energy over the 2013 year.
In making our application for ongoing accreditation, we also decided as a College to take the opportunity to innovate, proposing a number of significant changes. In no particular order
- we created a Graduate Diploma in Ministry, a one year (full-time equivalent) offering, including an entry point for those who have not done theology study before. This arose out of a desire to provide pathways for lay training, particularly those who want to focus on ministry in all spheres of life
- we standardised the former 1, 3 and 6 credit point structure of our post-graduate programmes into 4.5 credits. This makes our postgraduate offerings consistent with our undergraduate offerings and with Flinders University, allowing smoother cross-crediting pathways for students
- we clarified the research focus of our Doctor of Ministry. Recently TEQSA announced changes to ensure that professional doctorates across all education spheres maintain a research focus. They wanted to see a professional doctorate as a research degree of excellence. We welcomed these changes, as they fit with our ethos, a practical theology that seeks a rigour of action and theory reflection. While other Christian theology providers have responded by moving out of the DMin arena, we argued to TEQSA that our existing structures, with a few modifications and clarifications, met these research standards. We’re delighted that TEQSA agree with us and that we can continue to offer a DMin with a high quality research focus on ministry practice
- at the same time, we wanted to maintain and underline our collegial approach to post-graduate ministry. The student working alone on an extended project is in sharp contrast to the realities of ministry, which require peer learning. So in making our application to TEQSA, we proposed a pathway which will ensure all our post-graduate (Diploma, Master and Doctor) form a regular peer learning community, in which they gain encouragement and peer review. We believe this will lift standards, enhance the experience of participation in a learning community, in a way consistent with the collegial nature of ministry. In other words, degrees to serve the church in ministry and mission, through high quality, creatively rigorous practical theology.
The response by TEQSA – 7 years accreditation and no conditions – we take as a huge endorsement of our direction, our standards and the research community with the focus on a high quality practical theology we are creating.
And a great Christmas present to ACD, Uniting College and our post-graduate community.
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