AIT said last week that the BAA had ‘suspended’ its accreditation in December.
The 21 students on the course were only told it was being cancelled last week, after completing a full year on what had been the country’s first degree in audiology. At least six have since accepted places on audiology degrees in Britain, where they face fees of €9,000 a year.
BAA vice-president William Brassington said it was first contacted by AIT in Apr 2012 and agreed to simply review the documentation after a request to consider accreditation of the course.
“Following early review in Aug 2012, concerns were expressed regarding AIT’s ability to support the programme. Following further correspondence between the BAA and AIT, we were unable to alleviate these concerns and, following notification from the HSE regarding proposed changes to audiology education in Ireland, a decision was made to withdraw from the accreditation process at AIT,” he said.
The BAA said this was made explicitly clear to the college last December, and the decision that it would not be accrediting the course was reiterated in February.
As reported by the Irish Examiner last week, the Higher Education Authority told AIT a year ago it would not provide funding for the course and said it should not go ahead, with uncertainty also over clinical placements with the HSE. But AIT offered places to applicants three weeks later and continued the course despite being told by the HEA in October to suspend it and offer students alternative courses.
After difficulties were highlighted last month, the HEA contacted the BAA in mid-July about possibly reactivating the accreditation process for the class which had just finished first year of the degree. But this was not successful and the HEA again told AIT to discontinue the course.
Mr Brassington said BAA worked hard to resolve the issues but AIT had proceeded with the course with no prior agreement that it would provide accreditation.
“The failure on AIT’s behalf to provide the appropriate evidence and assurance that this course was financially and academically viable at this stage in the process mean it would not only have been inappropriate for us to consider accreditation but would also be potentially damaging to the professional reputation of BAA whom already accredit a number of audiology training programmes in the UK,” said Mr Brassington.
Last week, an AIT statement said the BAA had advised the HEA on Jul 29 “that it will, in future, only accredit programmes within Britain”. But the BAA told the Irish Examiner the issue was not based on any decision not to accredit courses outside Britain.
“It is not part of BAA remit to accredit courses outside the UK, however in this case the BAA made a decision to review the programme due to the challenges being faced within audiology education in Ireland and the conundrum that AIT had placed themselves in.
“The decision not to accredit in this case was based on unalleviated concerns regarding the financial and academic viability of this programme,” a spokesperson said.