Joint accreditation procedures regarding joint programmes

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A possible way to avoid multiple national accreditation procedures is to organise a joint procedure of the agencies that will have to assess the joint programme. Certainly if there are only two agencies involved, or the agencies know each other quite well (e.g. if they are from neighbouring countries and have worked together previously) this seems to be a beneficial model. The agencies working together can agree on a common assessment framework, e.g. by taking one agency’s framework and adding additional elements of the other agency, or by agreeing on a new framework which takes the requirements of both agencies into account. They can then jointly install a panel of experts who will commence a site visit at one location (although in practice visits at two or more locations also occur) and resulting in one panel report (although sometimes reporting requirements are so different that two reports are written). Whilst joint procedures have the advantage that they look at the totality of the joint programme and can avoid some duplication in national procedures, there are also some setbacks. Experience shows that, especially when agencies cooperate for the first time, comparing frameworks and agreeing on the specifics of the procedure mean quite an investment in time for agencies, experts and the institutions involved. If several locations are visited or multiple reports written, the reduction of costs is limited. In addition, problems in the decision-making phase may loom if the agencies attach different conclusions to the results of the joint procedure. It is possible that the cooperating agencies take different accreditation decisions which may be detrimental for both the joint programme and the future cooperation between the agencies. It is exactly for these reasons that another possible approach, namely a single accreditation procedure, has been developed and tested.

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