THE-ICE – International Centre of Excellence in Tourism and Hospitality Education

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Agency"s postion

Description of the agency

THE-ICE (International Centre of Excellence in Tourism and Hospitality Education) is a not-for-profit international accreditation agency focusing on the accreditation, benchmarking, the development and the promotion of excellence in the specialised fields of tourism, hospitality, events and culinary arts (TH&E) education. Governed by an elected Board of Directors, managed by an Executive Team and supported by the independent THE-ICE Assessment Panel, our vision is ‘to be the leading and authoritative source on TH&E education and training’.

The history of the agency

Originally funded by the Australian Federal Government (2004 – 2008) THE-ICE was established on 13-Apr-2004 as one of five International Centres of Excellence promoting Australian education prowess, THE-ICE was awarded to, and managed by, the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre (STCRC), the largest tourism and hospitality scientific research centre in the world at that time. With the endorsement and support of the Australian government, THE-ICE designed, developed and implemented strategic activities to:

  • recognise excellence in tourism and hospitality education in Australia
  • assist in furthering the development of that excellence, and
  • promote of that excellence to future international students

and in 2007, with the introduction of the annual research initiative, THE-ICE Student Barometer, ‘benchmark of that excellence’ became the fourth ‘Pillar’ underpinning the corporate culture and ethos of THE-ICE. In July 2008 THE-ICE transformed from a government-funded international education initiative, with fourteen (14) Foundation Members from Australia, to a not-for-profit international accreditation and quality assurance agency. Today, THE-ICE is a global network of thirty-five (35) Members from 16 countries, comprising of thirty-three (33) public and private universities, vocational institutions and private hotel schools, and two (2) Business Alliances.

Legal Framework

THE-ICE is a not-for-profit organisation, duly registered under the Corporation Act 2001 (Cth) and the [Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission] (ACNC), Registration Number: 86 131 628 370.


THE-ICE is 100% funded by annual fees and subscriptions from its membership network. Governed by a Board of Directors, members of which are elected by the General Assembly in accordance to THE-ICE Constitution, managed by THE-ICE Executive Team, supported by a team of appropriately quality external auditors from the independent THE-ICE Assessment Panel.

Quality assurance procedures

Main procedures

Institutions seeking THE-ICE accreditation for their education programmes (English or non-English) must meet the applicable criteria of THE-ICE Standards of Excellence. It is a two-stage process:

  • Stage One: Pre-accreditation – for all new incoming institutions seeking THE-ICE accreditation. Upon successful completion of this process, the institutions will be pre-accredited and invited to join THE-ICE as Associates Members.
  • Stage Two: Full-accreditation – for existing Pre-accreditation Members or new incoming institutions, which have successful completed THE-ICE Pre-accreditation Fast Track Interview. The interview, a pre-qualifying process, is available to institutions that are well-established and are qualified to apply for Full-accreditation in the first instance.

The process involves the following steps:

  • a) Self-review: completion and submission of the applicable application Proforma
  • b) Evaluation: assessment of the application Proforma by auditors from the independent THE-ICE Assessment Panel - one (1) auditor for Pre-accreditation and two (2) auditors for Full-accreditation
  • c) Site audit: visit of applicant institution campus to verify and validate claims made in the Application Proforma
  • d) Peer review: the self-review document, Application Assessment and Site Audit Final Report, the Executive Summary and the recommendation of the auditor/s will be submitted to THE-ICE Board of Directors for consideration and decision
  • e) Benchmarking – mandatory participation in the annual THE-ICE Student Barometer Survey (THE-ICE ISB-SB™), part of THE-ICE’s ongoing commitment focusing on the internal and external quality assurance enhancement of member institutions.

Validity of the decisions

  • 3 years for Pre-accreditation
  • 5 years for Full-accreditation

Publication policy

THE-ICE publish a sweep of corporate collaterals, available for download. However, THE-ICE do not publish findings/reports of Pre-accreditation or Full-accreditation applications. However, institutions which have successful completed the application process are encouraged to display THE-ICE reports in the public domain at their own discretion.

Appeal System

Appeal against the decision of THE-ICE can be brought to the Chair of THE-ICE Board of Directors and Chair of the independent THE-ICE Assessment Panel. Decisions of the two Chairs will be final.

Figures on Quality Assurance / Accreditation Procedures

THE-ICE have assessed a total of 453 TH&E programmes:

  • Full-accreditation: 384 programmes (48 with conditions applied)
  • Pre-accreditation: 69 programmes

International activities

Member of international quality assurance networks/organisations

INQAAHE (International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education) Full member of INQAAHE since 2011. THE-ICE (represented by the CEO) was an elected Director of the INQAAHE Board from 2013 to 2015 and the designated Chair for the INQAAHE Membership/Membership Services Committee during that term. In 2015, the CEO was re-elected and is currently serving a second term on the same Board, tasked to Chair the INQAAHE Communication and Outreach Committee.

CAA (Commission for Academic Accreditation) THE-ICE has established cooperative relationship with CAA (part of the Ministry for Higher Education and Scientific Research, United Arab Emirates) since 2013 for the assessment of TH&E programmes in the region. The relationship was formalised in June 2015 through the official signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), whereby both parties recognise each other’s accreditation assessment framework/ standards and THE-ICE made available their TH&E resources (as external reviewers) to CAA, when required and to conduct concurrent accreditation where applicable. The cooperative agreement was succssful rolled out in 2015 for the concurrent re-accreditation of a higher education sd well as a member institution of THE-ICE located in Dubai.

FIBAA (Foundation for Business Administration Accreditation) Since 2014 through the signing of a MOU, FIBAA & THE-ICE work in close collaboration in the field of quality assurance and quality development in higher education, particularly in the fields TH&E."

ECA (European Consortium for Accreditation in higher education) THE-ICE joined as an Observer of ECA in Dec-2015, and is invited to be part of ECA’s Working Group 2 (Innovation in QA and Accreditation).

i-graduate (International Graduate Insight Group) – Strategic Partner THE-ICE has been partnering with i-graduate for the design, development, implementation and benchmarking analysis of an annual student satisfaction research called THE-ICE ISB-SB™ since 2007. Findings of THE-ICE ISB-SB™ have set global benchmarks and become the ‘Global Index for TH&E Education’ since 2010. This benchmarking survey is a unique tool to gain in depth understanding of students’ satisfaction levels throughout their study journey. Findings of the research are well-received by THE-ICE Member Institutions for IQA reflections, planning of student retention and acquisition strategies.

External reviews, compliance with international standards

THE-ICE Standards of Excellence was designed and developed in alignment with the QA framework of UNESCO and that of INQAAHE, in consultation with external QA experts specialising in the fields of TH&E. As an ongoing concern, THE-ICE contracted external TH&E QA experts to conduct regular review of its accreditation frameworks bi-annually, if not more frequent.

The independent THE-ICE Assessment Panel is comprised of 15 appropriately qualified auditors from 10 different countries (Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Singapore, UAE, UK and USA). Leveraging the extensive experience in QA, knowledge in the design and development of TH&E education programme and the diversity of regional QA systems, THE-ICE has set up a virtual platform for the team of auditors to ‘meet’ on a regular basis - to share innovative ideas and exchange models of good practice.

Each year, THE-ICE also hosted an annual meeting of THE-ICE Assessment Panel, dovetailed to the annual International Panel of Experts (IPoE) Forum, for the auditing team to meet each other in person, to further discuss challenges confronting them in the evaluation and validation process of transnational education.

Accreditation procedures in another jurisdiction

Since 2008, after THE-ICE transformed from an Australian government funded accreditation agency to an international accreditation agency based in Australia, the Centre have been active in accrediting international education programmes. Today, THE-ICE have accredited in 14 countries (Australia, Austria, Fiji, Hong Kong, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, Oman, Philippines, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand and the UAE), and the regional reach continues to grow.