The South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions is empowered to accredit project and construction management educational programs within any department, school or faculty in institutions of higher learning. This is in line with Section 13(a)(b)(c) of the Project and Construction Management Act (Act No. 48 of 2000), which mandates the Council to conduct accreditation visits within its term of office.
Programme accreditation refers to the assessment of an academic programme, department or institution against predetermined criteria in order to determine whether the programme meets prescribed standards of educational quality, or specified minimum standards set by the accrediting body.
Institutional accreditation seeks to broadly evaluate the overall instructional operations of an educational institution, while programme accreditation evaluates the programmes that prepare graduates for specific careers or professions. Accreditation aims to ensure, and certify, that graduates from these programmes are qualified and competent.
By assuring prospective students and the public that graduates of an accredited institution or programme have achieved a minimum level of competence in their chosen fields of study, it therefore serves as a form of consumer protection (Prados et al, 2005).
The key principle behind accreditation is therefore to ensure that the educational processes produce graduates who are fit for the purpose, are technically competent, and possess the range of skills required (Institute of Engineers, 1996).
By providing standards by which to judge programmes, accreditation also serves to promote the mobility of graduates and academic staff and increases competitiveness.
In the case of the SACPCMP, which enforces its statutory accreditation mandate, programme accreditation is enforced by government on behalf of the public where the public interest is at stake and needs to be ensured.
In the context of the Act no. 48 of 2000: Project and Construction Management Professions Act ’accreditation’ means recognition by the Council of educational programmes offered by educational institutions relating to the project and construction management professions, and after the process of evaluation.
In a nutshell accreditation offers the following benefits:
- It ensures the protection of public interest by guaranteeing competent and ethically oriented professionals.
- It acts as a quality assurance tool to programme providers.
- It performs an oversight role to the government.
- It ensures that there a standard benchmark for evaluating similar programmes.
- It secures greater employment mobility for programme graduates.
It should be noted that professionals need to participate in accreditation in order to convey to the institutions that the industry will only allow graduates from accredited programmes to practice professionally.