Accreditation & Membership FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about THE-ICE Accreditation & Membership


What is accreditation?

Accreditation is typically regarded as an extensive quality review process conducted by an organisation that is external to the education institution being reviewed. Institutional accreditation is often undertaken by government departments of appointed agencies for legal registration reasons, whereas course or programme accreditation and quality assurance is often undertaken by professional bodies and organisations such as THE-ICE.

Accreditation has become increasingly important in a number of professional areas, and in some specialised areas students graduating from non-accredited programmes may not be able to join a professional association, gain registration (such as to become a doctor or dentist), or be able to find relevant employment.

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Why should a potential student or an institution care if a programme is accredited?

Around the world there are literally thousands of institutions offering tourism, hospitality, events, and culinary arts (TH&E) programmes. Prospective students, their parents and career counsellors will all want to be sure that a programme can deliver graduate outcomes and a quality education experience. They will also want to know whether the institution’s programmes are benchmarked against best-practice, and are well regarded by the industry and future employers.

Internally, accreditation is seen as an independent ‘mark of quality’ that reflects positively on the programmes offered by the institution. Accreditation bodies typically provide ongoing input and play an important role as part of the institution’s internal review processes.  THE-ICE is able to help an institution benchmark itself both nationally and globally through initiatives such as the annual student experience survey, THE-ICE ISB-SB (International Student Barometer and Student Barometer™).

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What are the different types of accrediting organisations?

It is the role of some regulation bodies to accredit entire institutions whereas other, more specialised, bodies will focus on particular types of education programmes such as business with EFMD (The Management Development Network) or AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), and engineering with the EAB (Engineering Accreditation Board).

In many countries the national accrediting body for institutions is a government body, but this is not always the case. In certain countries (such as the United States of America), institutional accreditation or registration may be carried out by not-for-profit but government-approved bodies. At the more specialised programme level, the vast majority of accrediting bodies are professional organisations (such as a Medical Association) or not-for-profit organisations whose focus is on quality assurance, such as THE-ICE.

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What sort of accreditation does THE-ICE offer?

THE-ICE is a specialised international accrediting body focusing specifically on TH&E (tourism, hospitality and events) programmes offered in vocational and higher education sectors. THE-ICE is a self-governing not-for-profit organisation. Only once its programmes are accredited can an institution become a Full Member of the THE-ICE. Accreditation is valid for a period of five (5) years, after which time re-accreditation is required.

Institutions seeking accreditation from THE-ICE are initially assessed through a Pre-accreditation process. Once accepted, the institution can proceed with application for accreditation and Full Membership of THE-ICE. Unlike traditional accreditation agencies, recognising and assuring excellence is only part of the service that THE-ICE offers its members. While THE-ICE aims to assure institutional quality through programme accreditation, it is also committed to promoting and developing excellence through THE-ICE ISBSB, the provision of annual signature events, and fostering scholarly activity in and among its members, as well as supporting and developing global quality assurance through partnerships and engagement with regional, national, and international quality assurance agencies.

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How does the actual accreditation process work in the case of THE-ICE?

Pre-Accreditation

  1. Applicant institutions should register their interest by contacting THE-ICE directly at accreditation@the-ice.org to receive a THE-ICE Pre-accreditation Application – Institutional Profile template and further information. The focus of this stage is to establish the applicant institution’s credentials and likelihood to meet/align with THE-ICE Standards of Excellence.
  2. Following successful completion of the Institutional Profile and approval by THE-ICE Executive Team the applicant institution is invited to apply for Full Membership of THE-ICE.
    • In the event that the applicant institution does not, or does not yet, meet the criteria and Standards, they may be invited to apply as an Observer of THE-ICE, where they will be supported by THE-ICE Executive Team to apply for Full Membership within three (3) years.

Full Accreditation

  1.  Applicant institution completes THE-ICE Full Accreditation Application, a self-review document with a focus on self-reflection and purpose of addressing THE-ICE Standards of Excellence
  2.  The completed Application is assessed by Auditor/s of the independent THE-ICE Assessment Panel. The auditors will prepare and deliver a Full Accreditation Assessment Report to the applicant institution for comments upon completion.
  3.  Auditor/s of THE-ICE Assessment Panel conduct a site audit, visiting the campus of the applicant institution to verify the claims made in the Full Accreditation Application. This site visit will include inspections of campus facilities by THE-ICE Auditors as well as observation and meetings with the applicant institution’s teaching staff, administrative support staff, students, alumni, industry advisory board and all relevant stakeholders. The auditors prepare and deliver a Full Site Audit Report to the applicant institution for comments upon completion.
  4.  With the approval of the applicant institution, the Full Accreditation Assessment Report and Full Site Audit Report are presented to THE-ICE Board of Directors along with the auditors’ recommendation based on their findings. With the approval of THE-ICE Board, the applicant institution is invited to become a Full Member of THE-ICE. As a Full Member, programmes are accredited for a minimum period of five years, after which Re-Accreditation is required to maintain accreditation and membership of THE-ICE.
    • Once approved as a Full Member, institutions operating as part of an ‘education group’ may be eligible to nominate Affiliate Members from within the same group, subject to the relevant criteria being met.

Please visit the Application Procedure for Accreditation & Membership of THE-ICE page for further information, or contact THE-ICE directly at accreditation@the-ice.org.

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Why does an institution need accreditation specific to tourism, hospitality and/or events if it already has some form of Business School accreditation?

Within the higher education sector a number of TH&E (tourism, hospitality, events, and culinary arts) programmes are incorporated under a Faculty of Business or a School of Business. Such a Faculty/School may carry accreditation from accrediting bodies such as AACSB, EQUIS. or AMBA, but these generic business accreditation bodies are typically not focused on the specifics of TH&E programmes.

One particular problem facing many tourism and hospitality programmes is that generic recommendations about and changes to the wider business curricula (such as core programmes, programme structure, etc.) can end up affecting more focused TH&E programmes. Important and specific education issues for TH&E programmes (internships, practical courses, etc.) means that it is important that accreditation is undertaken by a relevant accreditation body such as THE-ICE.

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Why does an institution need more than one accreditation?

In TH&E (tourism, hospitality and events) education, multiple accreditations are becoming increasingly common. There are a number of reasons for getting more than one accreditation:

  • Different accreditation bodies may focus on different academic programmes (e.g. tourism only, or hospitality only).
  • Some accreditation bodies may have an international focus, while others may be more focused on accreditation that is only relevant to a specific country (e.g. ACPHA is focused on courses in the USA).
  • Some accreditation bodies only focus on a specific programme type (e.g. AMBA is focused on MBA programmes).
  • Having more than one accreditation from different, independent bodies can be viewed as a ‘mark of quality’ and may make an institution more attractive to potential students and partner institutions.

The desire for multiple or additional accreditation is also a recognition of the increasing importance that accreditation plays in both the internal processes and external influence of an education institution.

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Does this mean that an institution with unaccredited programmes is no good?

Offering programmes that have not been accredited by an external body means that potential students (or an institution evaluating a potential partner) should carry out careful research on the institution and its programmes.

From a potential student’s point of view, there are many institutions with poor reputations that exist in many countries around the world. Their websites may look great, but they may even have no legal basis under which to operate. For international students, the implications may include an inability to get a student visa to attend a non-accredited institution in any particular country.

Institutional accreditation should not be confused with programme accreditation. While an institution may be accredited or ‘licensed’ to operate and teach students, that does not mean its specific programmes in any particular areas are well regarded by the industry, former students, or other education institutions. Institutions offering TH&E (tourism, hospitality, events, and culinary arts) programmes can vary considerably in terms of their curriculum, industry relevance, staff qualifications, expertise, and facilities. Accreditation by THE-ICE demonstrates their commitment to education excellence as they are all subject to peer review, quality assurance and a benchmarking process.

From an institutional point of view, the rapid globalisation of education means that many universities, private hotel schools, and vocational colleges are now engaged in all sorts of institutional arrangements such as articulation agreements, student exchange, and joint offerings of qualifications. It can be difficult to ascertain the legitimacy of an institution, let alone to assess the quality of its programmes or how well regarded they might be by the industry. Institutions that have passed through a rigorous independent accreditation and quality assurance process are not only much more likely to prove to be suitable partners, but will also minimise the potential risk of association.

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Who accredits the accrediting bodies?

Simply put, there is no global system that recognises international education accrediting bodies such as THE-ICE. However, THE-ICE is a Full Member of INQAAHE (International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education), the peak global body for national accreditation agencies. Further, with THE-ICE having originally been an initiative of the Australian Federal Government (2004-2008), credibility is assured.

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