The purpose of accreditation is to ensure that certain standards are met in the specific domain that they apply.
Given the multiple layers of accreditation, there are obvious benefits in mapping standards to one another. The pursuit of efficiency, and easing the burden on providers who may be facing multiple accreditations is important. The possibility of minimising duplication and fostering collaboration through viewing the similarities in standards is enticing and useful.
In most instances, the mapping of multiple accreditation standards is focused on the specific content of an accreditation standard. The process of mapping most commonly pairs common standards in an approximate like-for-like approach, thereby creating an implicit agreement that this one thing applies in more than one context. This is a very practical approach, which is repeated each time an accreditation standard changes.
However, the context and purpose of accreditation might be profoundly different. This results in different lenses being applied to something that on the surface seems quite similar.
The purpose of Australian Medical Council accreditation is to ensure that the education and training of medical practitioners promotes and protects the health of the Australian community. TEQSA’s purpose is to ”…protect student interests and the reputation of Australia's higher education sector through a proportionate, risk-reflective approach to quality assurance that supports diversity, innovation and excellence”. Both organisations look at quality, though the lens through which they view this is different.
This paper proposes a framework for mapping accreditation standards to one another that form a greater connection to the philosophy and purpose of the standards. Theming standards in relation to purpose yield a different, less mechanical form of mapping, that may open up greater opportunities for collaboration in areas of commonality, while at the same time articulating the important differences in in what seem to be common areas.