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Police College shares experience on accreditation (7.4.2016)


Mr Paul LAUThe Police College was the first among government departments and non-tertiary educational institutes to have successfully gone through accreditation for internal training programmes at QF Level 5. An interview with the then Director Paul Lau, Director of Police College in early 2016 shortly before he retired reveals the tips for successful accreditation.

Q1/ As a public service organisation, there seems to be no competition at all. Why did the Police College see the need to apply for accreditation of the internal training programmes to acquire recognition under QF?   

A1/ The Police College was founded in 2006 and this year marks its 10th anniversary. The College was founded to keep abreast with progressive and strategic development in police training services. Its vision is to become a leading centre of excellence in police training and development and to develop officers into police professionals with the highest ability and integrity to serve the community. In this regard, the College strives for excellence in continuously enhancing its training programmes with regular reviews to enrich the programmes’ syllabus and teaching methodologies. It also benchmarks with overseas police training organisations as well as local tertiary institutions for best practices in training management with the objectives to enhance the training standards and achieve the optimum learning outcomes to meet frontline operational needs and to cope with the rising expectations of the public and society.

The accreditation of police training programmes under the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework (QF) has reassured the highest standard of training quality, while the QF-recognised qualifications also give formal recognition to the police officers. The professional qualifications facilitate personal and career development of individual officers and pave the way for them to pursue higher qualifications. In addition to the existing articulation arrangements and collaboration with a number of local and overseas universities, the College is proactively exploring further course articulation and credit transfer opportunities to facilitate the officers’ lifelong learning and actively promotes the development of Police knowledge management to support the knowledge-driven learning culture.

The successful accreditation reaffirms the Police College as a centre of excellence in police training and development in the international arena and facilitate the Force in recruiting more candidates of high calibre to join the Force and serve the community. The professional development of police training is deemed more crucial in future. I am delighted to witness the formal recognition of the police training qualification and the new milestones achieved by the College prior to my retirement. I look forward to seeing the College continue its ambition to develop future generations of officers into police professionals with the highest ability and integrity to serve the community.

Q2/ What sort of challenges have been faced by the Police College in the course of accreditation? How were they overcome?

A2/ In recent years, our society has experienced many changes and the general public have different expectations and views about the Government, including the Force. The challenges ahead for the Force in meeting public expectations will be immense and thus training of police officers will be more important. In this regard, the College regularly reviews the training programmes in accordance with a well-established quality assurance mechanism.

During the major syllabus review process, the College proactively solicited comments and suggestions from graduate officers as well as their immediate supervisors. At the same time, we have explained to the colleagues the feasibility and benefits to accredit our police training programmes with the Qualifications Framework. Having decided to seek for the accreditation, the College formed a working group to coordinate the accreditation works. The College has convened various working group meetings and consultation at all levels to explore the practicability of the revamped programmes and any possible impact to frontline operations.

One of the challenges faced by the working group was the need to balance the expectations and suggestions towards the revised programmes from various formations and bureaus at different levels. The coordination works to secure the understanding of Force members as a whole and to reach consensus was not an easy task at all. The working group has reached out to officers at all levels through various venues and platforms enabling them a thorough understanding of the newly enhanced accredited programmes which align with the College's training objectives.

Looking back at the accreditation process of the foundation training programmes, the workload on preparing the accreditation documents, administrative and coordination works and the logistics arrangements were unexpectedly heavy. Learning from such experiences, the College has formed the working group in advance when preparing the accreditation of the detective training programmes and the accreditation process was smoothed out.

The wholehearted efforts of the College training staff is the key to eventually secured the endorsement by the International Accreditation Panel through a series of robust assessments which enabled the Police College, neither a tertiary institution nor a professional association, being the first training organisation amongst all disciplined services and government departments to acquire the accreditation status to run professional training programmes under HKQF at Level 4 and Level 5.

Q3/ What benefits were there for the Police College after successful recognition of the training programmes under QF? Can you please share your experience with other organisations who wishes to apply for programme accreditation?

A3/ Subsequent to the Police College's success in acquiring accreditation for several professional training programmes in 2014, the Recruitment Division took the opportunity to further promote police recruitment exercises. Recruitment record shows that right after the successful accreditation of the detective training programmes in January 2016, the police recruitment day hit a record high number of receiving more than 2,300 applications, which was indeed very encouraging.

The Qualifications Framework (QF) provides a set of outcome-based generic level descriptors (GLD) which describe the outcome standards expected of the qualifications at each level. Many major training operators in Hong Kong make reference to the GLD in the development of learning programmes. Although the College already has a robust Quality Assurance Mechanism, going through accreditation under QF works like a health-check exercise which provides a good opportunity for the College to benchmark our standard with tertiary and other training organisations in Hong Kong.

There is a saying, "Rome wasn't built in a day". For any organisation planning to seek accreditation, adequate preparation should be made. A good understanding of the assessment requirement, a comprehensive review on all aspects of its management and operations to confirm adequacy of its capability to operate the learning programmes are necessary. Besides, the organisation should critically review the learning objectives of the programmes to ensure that the required QF standards are met. . Furthermore, the necessary time and manpower resources required to prepare the accreditation documents should be carefully estimated.

During the application process, the HKCAAVQ staff has provided valuable support and constructive recommendations which has helped our officers in meeting the requirements and standards of the robust assessment. For any organisation planning to seek programme accreditation, I recommend that the documentation relevant to the programme be prepared, and initial views from HKCAAVQ be consulted so that the programme design can be fine-tuned to meet with the accreditation standards and requirements. Thereafter, formal application for accreditation and submission of documents may follow. This would increase efficiency in going through the accreditation process.