Evaluation and Accreditation of Professional Training Colleges
Post-secondary courses in specialized training colleges (professional training colleges) constitute the second largest destination for higher education among upper secondary school graduates after universities.
Professional training colleges play a vital role in Japanese higher education as educational institutions that offer practical occupational training. Recent years have seen a growing emphasis on the importance of occupational training, and countries around the world are making efforts to reform vocational higher education.
In these efforts, third-party quality assurance (assessment) is proving to be indispensable.
In Japan, universities (including graduate schools), professional graduate schools, junior colleges and colleges of technology are required to undergo certified evaluation and accreditation on a regular basis in accordance with the School Education Act.
There is indeed a global trend toward higher education institutions receiving periodic third-party assessment for the purpose of maintaining and improving education and research standards. While specialized training colleges in Japan are obliged to implement self-assessment, their third-party evaluation remains an urgent matter to be addressed.
The academic year 2014 saw the launch of the Professional Post-Secondary Course, whereby the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology approves post-secondary courses in specialized training colleges that make systematic efforts to assure the quality of occupational training through close cooperation with companies.
That said, the current state of post-secondary courses in specialized training colleges (professional training colleges) has not necessarily reached an appropriate level of social appraisal, since educational quality has not been systematically guaranteed.
Discussion and debate on third-party evaluation for professional post-secondary courses, therefore, continue within a panel on quality assurance in specialized training colleges at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s (MEXT) Lifelong Learning Policy Bureau.
The Institution for Accreditation and Quality Assurance of Professional Higher Education (QAPHE) was initially certified by MEXT as an evaluation and accreditation organization for professional graduate schools in the beauty business field on July 31, 2012, when it was the Institution for Beauty Business Evaluation.
In the academic year 2012, the institution carried out certified evaluation and accreditation for the Hollywood Graduate School of Beauty Business (Beauty Business Course, Beauty Business School) and published its results on April 5, 2013.
The body has since changed its name to QAPHE with the aim of conducting a third-party evaluation of professional training colleges.
The evaluation trial in the professional beauty field was conducted as part of a MEXT project for the academic year 2014 aimed to identify issues and challenges to be addressed prior to the full implementation of third-party evaluations.
Based on the experience of the trial evaluation, QAPHE starts the full implementation of evaluation and accreditation of professional training colleges.