The workshop was a series of three-day workshop (2, 7, and 9 December 2020) co-organised by the OIE VSB Twinning Project between the Australasian Veterinary Board Council Inc. (AVBC) and the Veterinary Council of Thailand (VCT), the ASEAN Veterinary Statutory Body Network (AVSBN) and the OIE Sub-Regional Representation for South-East Asia (OIE SRR-SEA). The objectives were to:
(1) identify the needs for veterinary education establishment (VEE) accreditation;
(2) develop models for Pan-ASEAN accreditation of VEEs and their link with regional mobility of veterinarians;
(3) provide models of VEE accreditation;
(4) consider the standards of VEE accreditation in Thailand developed under the OIE VSB Twinning Project between the AVBC and the VCT as a model for Pan-ASEAN accreditation; and
(5) introduce a tool which could be used for evaluation of the OIE Day One Specific Competencies.
Day 1 comprised participants from national veterinary statutory body (VSB)/VSB equivalent authority of the ASEAN Member States (AMS). Day 2 and Day 3 comprised participants from national VSB/VSB equivalent authority and VEEs of the AMS. Total participants were thirty, sixty-seven and fifty-three in Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3, respectively.
The activities under the OIE VSB Twinning Project between the AVBC and the VCT were overviewed, particularly the development of strategies for managing veterinary paraprofessionals (VPPs) in Thailand and the development of standards for accrediting Thai VEEs which were the outcomes of the workshop on the Roles of VSB on VPPs in ASEAN and the two workshops on the Accreditation of VEEs in Thailand conducted under the project. The options for accrediting VEEs were also described.
Progress was reported on the adoption of AVSBN as a partner of the ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Livestock (ASWGL) in exchanging and sharing information, knowledge and experiences related to policies, authorities, and functions of national VSBs, and the draft ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on Veterinary Practitioner to facilitate transboundary mobility of veterinarians within ASEAN. The activities in the South East Asia Veterinary School Association (SEAVSA) and how the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework inform accreditation of VEEs were presented. The ASEAN MRA on Medical Practitioners was explained as an example of MRA for health profession and lessons for veterinarians.
Data from the survey on VSBs and VEEs in the Asia and Pacific region conducted under the OIE regional workshop for VEEs and VSBs, Tokyo, 2018 and the survey on VEE accreditation prior to this workshop were presented to help understand the capacities and expectation of each VSB and the relationship between VSB and higher education authority. Discussion was made on ‘What do VSBs want to achieve through accreditation?’ to illustrate statement of intent, and on ‘What does AVSBN/ASEAN want to achieve through accreditation?’ to help start creating blueprint for accrediting VEEs across ASEAN.
Accreditation of VEEs by assessing inputs (e.g. facilities, learning resources, budget, etc.), curriculum (e.g. clinical teaching, appropriate to domestic needs, etc.) and outcomes (e.g. employable, competent, career longevity, etc.) was elaborated. Single common or tiered standards for VEE accreditation was discussed. Establishment of target of accreditation should be done by which an irreducible minimum standard (i.e. the OIE Day One Competencies) is met and higher standard could be needed for more developed economies. Accreditation of VEEs can also provide a framework to establish which veterinarians from other countries can work in a country and provide a scaffolding for VEEs in less-developed economies to progress towards higher levels of attainment. Perspective of Thailand on what VEEs want to achieve through accreditation was presented focusing on VEEs in Thailand are moving towards the international accreditation such as by the AVBC for reputation, marketing, sustainability, regionalisation and globalisation. Discussion was made on what do VEES want to achieve through accreditation, who is (or should be) responsible for accreditation, and should standards vary with stage of development.
Consideration was made if the OIE Day One Competencies should be used as the basis for VEE accreditation. An evaluation tool developed under the OIE Veterinary Education Twinning Programme between the Ohio State University (OSU), USA and the University of Gondar (UoG), Ethiopia for evaluation of the OIE Day One Competencies of graduating veterinarians was introduced and the experiences of using the tool were shared. Discussion was made on: (How) should the OIE Day One Competencies be evaluated in VEEs? Most participants agreed that the OIE Day One Competencies should be evaluated both at national level and intra-ASEAN and that the OSU/UoG Evaluation Tool and curriculum mapping could be used for these purposes. Presentation on Accreditation and graduate competency: a program for continuous improvement of VEEs was carried out to demonstrate that changing of accreditation standards is needed according to the relevant factors (i.e. society’s expectations, fully on-line teaching, etc.) to ensure that the qualifications and institutions remain ‘fit for purpose’. The standards developed by the VCT for use in domestic VEE accreditation were given as an example. Participants discussed ‘How should VEEs in ASEAN evaluate Day One Competencies?’ They strongly accepted that a pan-ASEAN VEE accreditation role focusing on outcomes and competencies is needed, and that the OIE Day One Competencies should be adopted as a minimum pan-ASEAN standard. The graduate outcomes are important for pan-ASEAN transboundary disease management, species and trade as well as enabling pan-ASEAN workforce. Companion animal medicine and surgery (for example) should be included in higher tiers. Developing or adoption of global standard e.g. AVBC should be for the highest tiered VEE.
Day One Competencies beyond the OSU/UoG evaluation tool were presented and discussed. Most participants agreed that the model for ASEAN VEE accreditation should include four steps – Local, National, ASEAN and Global accreditation. A method for progressive accreditation using a model for standards in multi-tier accreditation was introduced. The VCT revised accreditation standards were proposed as the basis of five levels of ASEAN Development Standards for VEEs to develop a pathway by which non-accredited VEEs could progress in an orderly and progressive manner towards an international accreditation. Like the OIE PVS Pathway, Level 1 is the basic alignment with accreditation standards and Level 5 is well advanced alignment, using the AVBC standard as a guide for the Level 5 requirement. Responses from the Thai VEEs to the AVBC questionnaire derived from the workshop on the Accreditation of VEEs in Thailand were presented to demonstrate how simple data can be used for evaluating a VEE.
The link between VEE accreditation and national/regional registration of veterinarians was explained. Discussion was done on: ‘What is the link between accreditation and regional mobility of veterinarians?’ Participants agreed that VEE accreditation is needed for regional mobility of veterinarians. They suggested that harmonisation of veterinary education across ASEAN is needed as it will help improve animal production and reduce transboundary animal diseases which will improve each national economy, and veterinarians from different countries are able to work together on pan-ASEAN problems. VEEs can also help each other in strengthening veterinary education. The Blue skies: Pan-ASEAN accreditation of VEEs and the veterinary MRA was presented and discussed. The revised version of VCT accreditation standards for VEEs developed under the OIE VSB Twinning Programme was proposed to be the reference for ASEAN VEE accreditation. Suggestion included the development of ASEAN Day One Competencies and the establishment of ASEAN VEE Accreditation Body. For the mobility of veterinarians in ASEAN, establishment of the minimum level of qualifications framework is needed for mobility within ASEAN, and veterinarians must be registered in their home country. Developing an MRA can address barriers of regional mobility i.e. the risks of creating competition on job opportunities, national requirements for language, visa status, national legislation for accepting foreign vets, etc. Roles of an ASEAN accreditation body should include determination of minimum accreditation standards for VEEs, cooperation and collaboration for accreditation bodies from AMS, harmonise curriculum and identify objectively the standards and construct an objective assessment process.
The workshop ended with the drafting of conclusions and recommendations.