Education Update - ESLD

ESLD - Update on the last meeting


Another well attended and successful ESLD was held on 25th July on zoom. Thirty participants gave up their Sunday to listen to three really interesting presentations, each outlining a different model of ‘independent’ credentialing or accreditation and the benefits and challenges they posed. 

Camilla Gliemann - Education Manager of Akupunktur Academiet, an independent acupuncture school in Denmark shared with us the journey of getting her course accredited at level 6 (equivalent to bachelor degree level) by the Danish Accreditation Institution. 

Their course was assessed in the qualifications framework for life long learning. Having previously been awarded level 5 as part of a group process for several schools organised by ETCMA member PA, Camilla highlighted the value of the educational benefits of doing everything this time by themselves, of examining why they did what they did from how they teach, how the curriculum fitted together to what their learning outcomes were and how these might change in the future.

She talked about the downsides too like the cost and time it took, which could mean higher fees in the future or having to give something up to remain competitive. 

While all schools no doubt regularly examine how they can improve, Camilla showed that going through the critical evaluation and analysis that an external body provides has additional benefits. She clearly demonstrated how valuable the reflective process was for their own self development as a learning community.

The second presentation by Prof. Helena Caria, co-ordinator of the Acupuncture Bachelor programme at the School of Health, Polytechnic Institute of Sebutal (ESS/IPS) in Portugal presented the rather sobering experience of how statutory regulation can be a harsh environment for the survival of acupuncture teaching institutions. Even though their course was the only one in the public higher education system in Portugal, providing greater national credibility than private schools, it did not pass its 2021 evaluation and its BSc programme in acupuncture will close in 2026, in spite of providing what was clearly a really impressive 4 year course, with a very comprehensive curriculum, including Chinese language classes and clinical hours far in excess of what most acupuncture schools can offer. The reasons are multifold, but perhaps, not surprisingly, politics and the power of medical associations played their part, as well as academia itself having its own demands such as requiring 50% of teaching staff on a course having PhDs, which is difficult to achieve in our profession mainly taught by practitioners without this background in the West. 

The good news is that from this year until 2026 they will have graduates with a BSc in Acupuncture recognised all over Europe, who have the opportunity through their course at the School of Health to continue with postgraduate courses in China.

Our third speaker Dr Lara McClure, Course Director for the BSc in Acupuncture at the Northern College in the UK talked about how much value they place on receiving accreditation from the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board (BAAB). Although they have validation from other external agencies such as the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education and the Office for Students it means more to them to be accredited by the BAAB because it provides profession-specific accountability together with the ongoing support of accreditation officers, a relationship to the BAcC and contact with other accredited institutions through the Council of Heads of Acupuncture Courses. Lara also outlined the structure of an accreditation visit and what took place over the 3 days of a visit. There are meetings with all groups involved with the college; with teaching staff, students, graduates, clinical supervisors, the course director: review of documentation and observation of teaching as well as of clinical teaching and clinical skills assessment.

Each of these presentations was followed by question and answer sessions and there was a high level of engagement from participants.

I made a short presentation later in the day of the key areas that an independent accreditation process will require schools to provide evidence of, with regard to their resources, policies and processes. 

At the end we agreed a provisional date for next year’s ESLD. There was a preference for the ESLD to be at a weekend again and the provisional date has been set for 17th July 2022.

Jasmine Uddin

Education Lead ETCMA

Sept. 2021

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