University Degree Programme Accreditation
The Institute’s Programme Accreditation scheme accredits university degree programmes from which all its graduates will meet the educational requirements for the Chartered Mathematician (CMath) designation.
The CMath designation recognises individuals as professional mathematicians, whose skills, experience and professionalism are alongside that of other chartered designations. Chartered designations provide numerous benefits to both individuals and employers, which include;
- Careers options are broader for individuals;
- Members of a professional body who hold a professional qualification have a greater probability of employment and an increased salary compared to those without professional qualifications;
- Employers benefit from an assurance of expertise and competence from their employees who hold a chartered designation;
- Employees develop highly valued transferable skills whilst gaining professional recognition.
- Employers can engage with suitable STEM graduates as their degree will have been recognised by the relevant professional body.
Universities who have their degree programme(s) accredited by the Institute help to make their mathematics undergraduates aware that such professional recognition is available to them and provide them with their first steps towards gaining professional recognition, which will help them to progress in their careers.
The following information is relevant to universities applying for accreditation for the first time and those wishing to renew their existing accreditation.
Accreditation is granted by the Chair of the Institute’s Higher Education Service Area (HEdSA) committee (or other nominated person), based on the recommendations of an External Assessor, and is provided at two levels:
i) Accredited by the Institute to meet the educational requirements of the Chartered Mathematician designation. (This normally corresponds to integrated masters (MMath) degree programmes.)
ii) Accredited by the Institute to meet the educational requirements of the Chartered Mathematician designation when followed by subsequent training and experience in employment to obtain competencies to those specified by the QAA for taught masters degrees. (This normally corresponds to Bachelor degrees or in some cases in Scotland where an MA is the award following four years of undergraduate study.)
Programme Accreditation is designed to be undertaken as part of a department’s 'Periodic Programme Review' and carried out by an External Assessor. External assessment is a pre-requisite for Programmes that are eligible for the Chartered Scientist (CSci) designation. The Programme Accreditation process for Chartered Mathematician therefore includes external assessment to align CMath to CSci.
Accreditation is granted for up to six years, to coincide with the cycle of the ‘Periodic Programme Review’.
The scheme is open to universities in the United Kingdom. For universities in Scotland, the content of 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th years shall be considered for the decision on accreditation of the degree.
The Institute does not charge for running the Programme Accreditation scheme although we do request that the travel expenses of the External Assessor are met. This should be clarified between the External Assessor and the university before nomination.
Criteria for Accreditation
To be considered for accreditation, degree programmes must;
- Be an honours degree, of at least three years duration.
- Mathematical topics must normally constitute at least two-thirds of the total content at each stage of the course. If any particular year has less than this it can be compensated for in later years.
- Degree programmes should satisfy the relevant version of the Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications and the current QAA benchmark for Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research at the appropriate level (Bachelors, integrated Master etc). Further details can be found at www.qaa.ac.uk/.
Universities seeking accreditation must nominate an External Assessor who is acceptable to the Institute; the nominee should have sufficient experience of the academic requirements for CMath and must be a Fellow of the Institute or have gained equivalent professional experience.
When nominating an External Assessor, please ensure you are adhering to your university’s rules and conformed to the expectations within the QAA Code of practice for the assurance of academic quality and standards in higher education: Programme design, approval, monitoring and review, in particular to those expectations in terms of independence and objectivity.
Unless there appears to be a conflict of interest, your nominee will automatically be accepted if they are a Fellow of the Institute and Chartered Mathematician. The Institute maintains a list of CMath FIMA academics that would be prepared to receive an invitation to join a University’s periodic review process.
A nominated External Assessor who does not hold both CMath and FIMA qualifications is required to complete the Details of External Assessor(s) form and submit this with their CV, which will be reviewed by the Institute’s HEdSA Committee.
Universities may choose whether the External Assessor sits as a full member of the panel or as an observer on behalf of the Institute. External Assessor(s) sitting as a full member of the panel must adhere to QAA’s Codes of Practice.
Note that current External Examiners are not normally allowed to review degree programmes for accreditation, as their External Examiner’s Reports will normally form part of the “evidence” submitted as part of the review process.
External Assessors will be issued with guidelines and assigned a Programme Accreditation Mentor if reviewing degree programmes for the first time.
How to Apply/Renew Accreditation
Please complete the Programme Accreditation Application Form and submit this electronically to Vanessa Thorogood, Education Officer. Please provide a definitive list of nominated degree programmes and give degree titles in full, e.g. BSc (Hons) Mathematics.
A checklist for universities is available to help you through the accreditation process.
For programmes to be accredited by the Institute, the External Assessor is required to assess whether the programmes meet the required mathematical content threshold, in addition to the normal requirements for revalidation of the programme.
Where possible the External Assessor should be included within discussions and receive relevant paperwork associated with the ‘Periodic Programme Review’, as this saves the preparation of any new documentation for the Institute’s Programme Accreditation process.
The External Assessor then makes their recommendations to the Institute, via a feedback form, for each degree programme the university lists for consideration of accreditation.
The summary report(s) is sent to the chair of HEdSA (or other nominated person), for accreditation to be granted.
If you have any additional questions concerning the scheme, please contact Vanessa Thorogood, Education Officer.