Speech Pathology Australia (the Association) is recognised by the Federal Government of Australia, Department of Education, Skills and Employment, as well as the National Alliance of Self Regulating Health Professions (NASRHP) as the professional body which represents speech pathologists in Australia.
Impact of COVID-19 on University Accreditation processes and status
Many universities, students and associated stakeholders may currently be seeking some guidance or direction from Speech Pathology Australia (the Association) regarding the impact on the accreditation status for Universities.
On a national level, a significant amount of organisations are preparing or enacting contingency plans in response to COVID19. As the situation is rapidly changing at a national, state and local level it is premature for the Association to make specific recommendations for all higher education providers regarding accreditation.
The Association understand the concern for staff and students and the impact on workload developing and managing contingencies during this period of time. The Association is currently not in a position to approve suggested changes for each university as they are enacted or arise, as the future is uncertain about the range of changes a university may need to adopt.
It is anticipated universities will need to report on changes in the curriculum enacted in response to COVID19 however the mechanism to do this at this stage is still to be determined. To better inform our position the Association will be seeking guidance from the government and other accrediting authorities regarding this issue.
Any specific updates with respect to changes in University Accreditation processes and status will be communicated directly to University Heads of Program and made available on this web page as relevant. At this stage, the information provided on this web page is current. Any queries can be directed to the Association’s Manager, Professional Standards.
Speech Pathology Australia’s direction regarding university program changes in response to COVID-19
Speech Pathology Australia has been receiving requests for support and direction from university staff in relation to program changes necessitated by COVID-19. The Association’s position and direction follows:
- In recognition of the dynamic and changing COVID-19 response in Australia and its impact on professional education, the Association is collaborating with heads of Australian university speech pathology programs and other professional organisations including accreditation bodies, Universities Australia and the Australian Council of Professions. The Association recognises that due to COVID-19, assessments may need to be delivered online and changes to the clinical education program may be required.
- The Association has initiated interim reporting of university program changes, due by 30 July 2020. The Association will continue to take a whole of program perspective when evaluating evidence of students’ attainment of entry level competency.
- Students may be supervised during clinical placements using telesupervision. The client and/or student and/or supervisor may be located in different geographical locations, however at a minimum, the supervision must be synchronous for at least part of the service. That is, the supervisor should be present at the same time as the student is delivering the service to the client. It is expected all universities and service providers will abide by relevant laws, legislation and funding body requirements when students provide supervised telehealth services to clients.
- Students may undertake international clinical placements, where available. However, The Association requires all students to complete at least one entry level placement in Australia, with clients who reside in Australia. If the university only offers one entry level placement, then that placement must occur in Australia.
- The Association requires all international clinical placements to be supervised, at least in part, (telesupervision is acceptable) by a speech pathologist/s who is eligible for Certified Practising membership of Speech Pathology Australia and/or Certified full members of a signatory to the Agreement for the Mutual Recognition (MRA) of Professional Association Credentials.
- The Association requires COMPASS® (when used) to be used in contexts and in the manner described in the COMPASS® assessment resource manual. The use of COMPASS® has been validated for use in workplace settings (McAllister et al., 2006; McAllister et al., 2010). COMPASS has not been validated for use in simulation.
- The Association does not stipulate the pedagogy to be utilised by universities, however The Association recognises universities may be introducing or expanding the use of simulation in their programs. The Association expects all teaching and assessments to be of high quality, using the best available evidence to inform their use and design.
- The Association will continue to seek from universities detailed evidence of assessments and students’ attainment of entry level competency. If universities decide to replace any part of clinical placements with simulation (and this has not been previously evaluated through accreditation) then The Association will require evidence of how students’ entry level competency is achieved and assessed. The Association notes that the current evidence base for replacement of clinical placement with simulation has not investigated speech pathology entry level placements nor all range of practice areas (Hewat et al., 2020; Hill et al., 2020).
- The Association recognises that due to COVID-19, student clinical placement experiences and assessments in 2020 may be disparate. This may necessitate universities adopting individualised student assessments to ensure entry level competency against the required standards. The Association will flexibly consider the use of assessments which may not be ‘whole of cohort’ for students expected to graduate in 2020. Documentation will be required.
For further information contact the Association’s Manager Professional Standards.
Current university programs
The Australian university programs currently offering speech pathology degrees are listed below, including their accreditation classification and the term of current accreditation.
Accreditation will automatically lapse at the end of the determined period based on the accreditation classification awarded. For Full Accreditation, this is at the end of a five-year term and for Provisional, at the end of up to two years. Conditional accreditation is case dependent.
In the year prior to the end of the accredited term, universities typically seek re-accreditation. This requires the university to submit documentation for review by a Speech Pathology Australia Accreditation Panel. The Panel will also conduct a site visit at the university. This process enables the Panel to determine if a further period of accreditation will be recommended.
The process of re-accreditation takes several months. For this reason, Speech Pathology Australia and universities undergoing re-accreditation, must adhere to strict accreditation cycle timelines. These timelines enable students from eligible university programs to apply for membership to Speech Pathology Australia upon graduation.
Further information about University Accreditation, the Accreditation Process, and Accreditation Fees is available on separate pages of this website:
Watch a video (or listen to the audio-only) that provides details for prospective students regarding the accreditation process and what the various classifications mean. The video addresses some of the frequently asked questions related to university accreditations and their associated classification outcomes.
Table 1 below provides information on the university courses current accreditation classification.
Table 1: University programs current accreditation classification (NB. information regarding individual programs should be sought from the relevant university)