The accreditation of educational entities providing accredited or recognised further and/or higher courses is a legal requirement as per Subsidiary Legislation (SL) 607.03 ‘Further and Higher Education (Licensing, Accreditation and Quality Assurance) Regulations’. Courses are referred to as ‘accredited’ when they have been assessed by the MFHEA and pegged to the Malta Qualifications Framework. All education institutions interested in offering programmes of studies which are accredited and pegged to the Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF) need to submit their prospective programmes to the MFHEA for accreditation. The application form for Programme accreditation can be downloaded from the following link: Programme-Accreditation-Application-Form-V5.1docx (live.com). New entities, together with the submission of the application for programme accreditation, must also submit an application for Provider Accreditation.
The process of programme accreditation consists of initial vetting which is the first step of the process. Once the initial vetting is complete, one or more evaluators, depending on the type of programme, will be identified. The potential external evaluator/s that are asked to review the programme must have a qualification at an MQF Level higher than the programme. In cases where the external evaluator has a qualification at the same MQF Level, the evaluator must have a number of years of experience in the relevant subject. For programmes that are classified as ‘Award’, one evaluator will be engaged. For programmes classified as ‘Qualification’ from MQF 1 to MQF level 4, one evaluator will evaluate the programme. For programmes classified as ‘Qualification’ at MQF Level 5, two evaluators are to be engaged. For programmes classified as ‘Qualification’ at MQF Level 6, 7 and 8, three evaluators will be engaged given that a student will be acting as the third evaluator along with two professional experts in the field. Once the selected evaluator/s submit/s the evaluation report, the provider will be given a deadline by when to submit the updated application form in accordance with the recommendations highlighted within the evaluation report. This process can carry on for a maximum of three cycles until the programme fails or passes accreditation. This process also applies for the re-accreditation of already accredited programmes.
Irrespective of the MQF Level, whether a programme leads to an ‘Award’ or a ‘Qualification’ is determined by the ECTS weighting of the programme. Minimum number of credits for ‘Qualifications’ and parameters for ‘Awards’ can be found on page 56 of the Referencing Report (2016). The credit system is a central tool of the Bologna Process. This is a process in which the total hours of learning undertaken by a student translates into credits that are internationally recognised and transferable. In Malta, 1 credit is equivalent to 25 hours of total learning, 5 hours of which must be direct contact teaching hours. Thus, for a programme to be accredited and pegged to the Malta Qualifications Framework, it is important to remember that the duration of the course must be of a minimum of 25 hours of total learning. This is sub-divided into four sections:
(i) Contact Hours – tuition hours (these should amount to at least 20% of total learning hours, i.e. 5 hours per 1 ECTS);
(ii) Self-Study Hours – non-supervised learning hours;
(iii) Hands-On Hours – this refers to supervised learning;
(iv) Assessment Hours – this includes the number of hours spent working on an assignment as well as/or the hours the students spend during examinations.
The Referencing Report (2016) provides guidelines to the criteria used by the MFHEA to determine the appropriateness of the application.
When designing your course on your programme application, your programme developer should ensure that the course’s learning outcomes are in line with MQF Level descriptors found in the Referencing Report (pages 77–79).
For further information with regards to the programme application, please refer to the referencing report (2016).
A copy of the application form, together with the required documentation, is to be sent to [email protected].
The current fee structure can be downloaded from the following link: Administrative Fee Structure for Accreditation and Licensing of Providers and Programmes – Malta Further & Higher Education Authority (mfhea.mt).
A Flowchart showing the process for Programme Accreditation.
The process of Programme Accreditation from the filing of the application to the conclusion of the process should take approximately 6 to 12 months depending on the quality of submission and the complexity of the application. If at any point in the application process, no feedback, requested documents, amendments or clarifications are provided by the providers for a period of three months, then the application will be considered null and void, and the applicant will need to re-submit a new application.
Flowchart B: The process of Programme Accreditation