Assessing major changes in medical programs

For developments such as a major change to an accredited medical program in an established medical education provider or the establishment of a new medical program, the Australian Medical Council (AMC) first assesses the readiness of the provider and the program for assessment by an AMC team:

  • The provider should submit a Notice of Intent to the AMC when planning begins. For a major change in an established medical program, this should be at least 20 months in advance of the implementation of the major change. For a new medical program, this should be 24 months before intended commencement.
  • For proposed major changes, the AMC Medical School Accreditation Committee will consider the education provider’s notice about the planned changes and determine whether they constitute a major change. If the Committee determines the changes to be major and to require separate accreditation it requests a Stage 1 submission from the provider.
  • Aided by a written guide provided by the AMC, the education provider prepares and lodges a Stage 1 submission at least 15–18 months in advance of the proposed program commencement. There is an application fee for Stage 1 which covers all associated work in relation to the review of the Stage 1 application by the AMC Secretariat, the Medical School Accreditation Committee and the AMC Directors.
  • The Medical School Accreditation Committee reviews the submission and provides advice and a recommendation to the AMC Directors on the readiness of the education provider and the program to undergo assessment.

The AMC will consider if the planned curriculum is likely to comply with the AMC accreditation standards and if the education provider has demonstrated that it is able to implement the program.

Should the AMC invite the education provider to proceed to assessment by an AMC team, in preparation for the assessment, the education provider would be required to present a Stage 2 submission. This includes:

  • the outline of the full program
  • the detailed curriculum and assessment plans for at least the first two years
  • details of the financial, physical and staff resources available to design and implement all years of the program, and to support the program when fully established
  • an institutional assessment of strengths and weaknesses.

The education provider may choose to present the detailed curriculum and implementation plans either on the entire new program or in progressive stages. Should the education provider present its plans in stages, these plans will require separate follow-up assessments.

The AMC undertakes assessments on a cost-recovery basis. The education provider is required to pay part of the fee when lodging the accreditation submission (Stage 2). The AMC Secretariat issues an invoice for the remaining fee when it completes the assessment. Payment is due before the AMC makes the decision on the accreditation.

Definition of a major change in an established program of study

The AMC defines a major change in an accredited program of study or education provider as a change in the length or format of the program, including the introduction of new distinct streams; a significant change in objectives; a substantial change in educational philosophy, emphasis or institutional setting; and/or a substantial change in student numbers relative to resources. Significant changes forced by a major reduction in resources leading to an inability to achieve the objectives of the existing program are also major changes. The gradual evolution of a medical program in response to initiatives and review would not be considered a major change.

Note: In deciding to grant accreditation, the AMC makes a judgement about the adequacy and appropriateness of the total resources available to support the program. For this reason, whilst it does not accredit programs for a specific student intake, the AMC would consider a substantial change in student numbers relative to resources to be a major change. The AMC expects schools will report on any planned or proposed increases in intake in progress reports.

Note: The delivery of an AMC accredited medical program in other countries is a major change, as is the disestablishment of an offshore offering of an AMC accredited medical program. The AMC recognises that there are many possible options for offering Australian/New Zealand higher education programs overseas. It will assess only proposals to deliver Australian/New Zealand medical courses overseas that are in accord with the purpose of AMC accreditation. A separate AMC policy statement, available from the Secretariat, provides the AMC definition of these proposals and the additional requirements for assessment of such proposals. Full details on the process for assessment of new developments are described in the AMC’s Procedures for Assessment and Accreditation of Medical Schools by the Australian Medical Council.