The Seoul Accord has extended the Australian Computer Society’s (ACS) accreditation for another six years following a first of its kind remote evaluation process.

Organisations accredited by the Seoul Accord are themselves empowered to accredit universities and other learning institutions around the world in an effort toward standardising IT education and allowing international bodies to easily recognise qualifications from other countries.

ACS accredits the computer science programs for all of Australia’s major universities.

Currently there are nine signatories to the Accord, including organisations from Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, and Britain.

Organisation from countries like New Zealand, Ireland, Indonesia, and Malaysia currently hold provisional status.

Professor Michael Johnson, Seoul Accord Chair and Director of the ACS Professional Standards Board, said the Accord was an important step toward the cross-border recognition of tech qualifications.

“ICT is an international discipline, and it’s something you want to be able to move around with,” he told Information Age.

“If you’re travelling to another country to complete a degree, you might ask ‘how do I know this is a good degree? Is it accredited by relevant authority?’”

The accreditation process has the added benefit of improving the courses and providers by providing an opportunity for honest self-reflection.

Reviewers from organisations like ACS travel to the various universities and other places of learning where they look at completed student projects and exams, interview course conveners, students, teachers, and administrators to get an insight into how its computer science programs are run.

Professor Johnson said accreditation bodies like ACS keep “pushing the bar” higher, ensuring qualifications continue to get better.

“Around 15 years ago, Australian universities had no requirement to be involved with industry when designing their courses, and no expectation that students work directly with industry during their studies – it was seen as too difficult and too expensive,” he told Information Age.

“When ACS as the professional accreditation body came along and said, ‘we can’t accredit you unless you start doing these things’ it helped give the academics more leverage to adjust their courses, which in turn makes things better for students and for the profession overall.”

Seoul Accord accreditation lasts six years.

ACS began its renewal processes – which typically involves reviewing an organisation’s accreditation procedures in-person – under severe travel restrictions due the pandemic.

It applied to complete the re-accreditation virtually, which is unheard of for the Accord, and was successfully able to demonstrate its capabilities online.

“ACS’s accreditation processes are world-leading,” Professor Johnson said.

“It’s breaking ground in the Seoul accord by showing other signatories that, if you do it right and are an organisation that people have significant confidence in, it’s possible to do this electronically.”