COE seeks to retain authority over U.S. veterinary schools

Hearing before federal panel scheduled Tuesday

July 29, 2019 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

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The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity is scheduled to meet July 30-31 at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. The American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education is one of a dozen accrediting bodies on the agenda.

The organization that accredits U.S. and Canadian veterinary programs is scheduled for review by a federal panel.

The American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education will appear Tuesday before the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity in Arlington, Virginia.

NACIQI advises the U.S. Secretary of Education on accreditation matters pertaining to higher-education programs. Organizations that confer accreditation must renew their authorization to do so, typically every five years. The COE was supposed to be reviewed by NACIQI in February, but the hearing was postponed due to a federal government shutdown.

The COE’s renewal bid isn’t anticipated to draw the controversy it did in 2012, when NACIQI ordered the council to become more transparent and consistent and to better guard against conflicts of interest. Nor is the meeting anticipated to be as well attended as it was in 2014, when the U.S. Department of Education received some 900 letters from veterinarians critical of the COE’s performance.

As a result of those letters and testimony from critics, NACIQI directed the COE to mend its rift with veterinarians in order to continue to act as an accreditor.

Following a series of listening sessions and organizational changes, the COE ultimately proved to NACIQI that it had addressed the criticisms. The panel recommended continued renewal in 2016, and USDE's official nod followed.

The COE has been the nation’s sole accreditor of veterinary education since the 1950s.

In other COE news, the agency revised two of the 11 standards it uses to evaluate accredited programs. The changes address the distributive model of clinical education, by which students receive their clinical education at off-site practices rather than at a traditional on-campus teaching hospital.

  • Standard 3 was altered to clarify that all core training sites, whether on or off campus, must meet the same standards for physical facilities and equipment.
  • Standard 4 was changed to specify the need for teaching and training programs to identify and establish private practice cooperators and to monitor them regularly.

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