Does Credibility Matter More than Accreditation  ​


Many people assume that accredited courses and education are more important or valuable than courses that are not accredited, but this is simply not the case.



An accredited course is simply a course that has been judged to meet the standards of an accrediting organisation. 

The organisation may tell the course provider how to –

  • write and grade assignments
  • write and grade exams
  • teach the course

An accrediting organisation will also tell course providers what topics should be covered in the course.

Passing an accredited course mainly tells us then that a student is

  • able to pass exams or assessments at a certain point in time
  • has knowledge of the topics the accrediting organisation says should be in the course

Unfortunately, this can mean that –

  • The student has only studied very specific topics to pass an exam or assessment
  • We do not know about their depth of learning
  • We do not know what experience and knowledge they have gained during the course
Accreditations and Licensing

Accredited courses are essential for some jobs, where a licence or permission to work is required.

For example –

  • Lawyers
  • Doctors
  • Jobs that require a person to drive - A person required to pass a specific driving test to be allowed to drive in many countries.

However, for most work today, employers are looking for –

  • The ability to do a good job
  • The capacity of individuals to adapt to a rapid changing workplace.

For these purposes, accreditation is secondary.


For this reason and others, accreditation is becoming less important to employers

when looking to recruit or promote staff and credibility is becoming more important.



In courses, the most important thing is that the student learns what they need to know. They come out of the course with the skills and knowledge they need to do a good job for their future employer, or for themselves if they wish to run their own business.


This is why credible courses are so important.


Credibility means simply to be trusted or to be believed in. So a credible course is one that will do what it says on the tin. If the course says that it will teach you how to grow lavender or care for poultry or improve your copywriting skills, it will do just that!


Courses that are credible will be valuable, because they help a person learn and improve their value to employers and themselves.


How do you Tell Courses are Credible?

When looking at a course, it is important, therefore, to determine if it is credible or not. A credible course can be accredited or non-accredited. Accreditation is the not the point. The point is whether the course is valuable and can be believed in.


When deciding if a course or educational institution is credible, we can find out more about -

  • The qualifications and experience of the staff – Do they have the qualifications needed to teach the course?
  • How long the organisation has been in existence? Age doesn’t mean everything, but if an education provider has been around for a while, there is a reason for this. Education providers that do not provide good courses will not last long.
  • Do they offer good student service? For example, is there a tutor available? Is there a limit to how often you can contact a tutor? Do they reply to you quickly?
  • Do they have connections with industry? These can help students to network and find jobs after completing the course.
  • Success of the graduates – what do students do after the course? How many go onto employment or further study? How successful are they?


Credibility not Accreditation

For the reasons above, this is why IARC has decided to focus on credibility as a measure of the success of education providers.


Who is IARC?

IARC is the International Approval and Registration Centre. Founded in 1999, the purpose of IARC is to provide a bench mark of internationally credible standards for educational institutions.  A bench mark is a measure of good standards against which education providers can be compared.


IARC currently represents over 80 international education providers  in –

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Malaysia
  • USA
  • UK
  • Many other countries

Many accrediting organisations will focus on one course or just a few. This means that students can only study the accredited courses in that country or countries. The way the world is today, this is not necessarily a good thing. The world is more global. People move around the world more easily. They work in different countries.  This may be physically, but, also, we have to consider that people work online now more today, so a more global knowledge is important to many employers.


This is why IARC does not focus on one country alone.

They operate on a global platform with members coming from all four corners of the globe.


Deciding on Our Standards

To decide on the bench mark standards they want their members to meet, IARC seek input from a range of sources –

  • They talk to their members. What do they need from IARC?
  • They talk to individuals in different industries. What are employers looking for? What do they want their employees to know? What training do they require?
  • They get formal and informal feedback from students, members, industries and experts.
  • They look at evidence-based research that is relevant to credible courses.


Updating Standards

A few years ago, IARC revised their standards and expanded the focus of the quality of the course and curriculum to a broader system that looks at the quality of the broader education offered.


IARC’s standards today reflect

the professionalism of staff

the experiences of enrolled or graduated students.


IARC used this to develop their quality framework – The Framework for Excellence.


Joining IARC

So what does IARC mean when they say they are looking for quality of the broader education provided by a IARC member?


To become a recognised member, an institution needs to make a submission that shows it meets standards in areas of

  • administration
  • course content
  • course delivery
  • course assessment

Institutions are not granted membership unless their operation is

  1. transparent
  2. ethical
  3. meets all the requirements set down by a committee elected annually by the membership

IARC are not bogged down by bureaucracy. They listen to their members, to employers, to students and to industry to find out what is required of education providers today. This means that the standards set by IARC are updated and improved regularly. They are not standards that are set in stone and never changed, but standards that are updated and improved to meet the requirements of an ever-changing world.


The standards are the experiences that our students expect.

They are what consumers expect and what industry demands.


IARC and ACS Distance Education

ACS Distance Education has been a member of IARC since 1999.  We consider membership of IARC to be vitally important as it demonstrates our desire to provide high quality, credible education for our students.


Students do not believe in a course or product unless they see value in it. They will not want to pay for it or study the course if it seems worthless or meaningless, so the education provided by ACS and IARC members must be worthwhile.


IARC standards are not just about the quality of the course itself. They are also about many other factors that we have mentioned above such as :  


Course Development

All ACS Distance Education course writers are well-qualified and experienced. All hold a higher education level and at least five years’ industry experience. We encourage our tutors and writers to keep up to date and continually improve their knowledge.


Our writers are not just experts in their own industry though. They are also experienced distance learning tutors. Not everyone is good at online course development and tutoring, but we train our tutors and make sure that they are, to ensure that our students get the best possible distance learning experience.


How Long Has ACS Been Around?

ACS DE was established in 1979, that’s 43 years ago now, by John Mason, our Principal. He started off with just one horticulture course and the college has blossomed since then. We now offer over –

  • over 700 distance learning courses
  • over 80 educational eBooks

We have been around for a while because we provide good quality courses, tutor and administrative support for our students.


We also listen to our affiliates, students and tutors.

  • We want to know if things go wrong. By listening to our students and tutors, we can use this knowledge to improve and update our courses.
  • We want to know when things go right, so we can make sure that we go on and improve even further.
  • We listen to industry employers and find out what they are looking for. For example, in recent years, we developed a 20 hour short course with Garden Centres of Australia to meet the needs for sales skills for garden centre staff.


We use what we learn to

  • continually improve and update our courses
  • develop new courses to meet the requirements of industry and students alike

We aim to ensure that our courses are high quality and meet the standards of credibility required by IARC, our students and employers.


Here’s where ACS fits and meets the standards… ACS cares.


ACS has worked hard to deliver that message for more than 40 years in education and business.  

ACS has –

  • chosen not to conform to accreditation systems that do not fit their market and restricts their ability to offer robust and deep learning
  • chosen to stand out from the crowd by becoming a leader in alternative education for over 40 years
  • stood firm in their mission to create and deliver valuable intellectual property that provides students with critical learning and valuable education
  • proven their ability to adhere to IARC standards for 23 years

People achieve success based on –

  • how much they know
  • the skills they have developed
  • how they can use those knowledge and skills gained from a course in the real world

Start A Working Relationship with ACS DE

As members of IARC, you can see that ACS DE is working hard to meet, maintain and even go above the standards set by IARC. We want to provide the best education we can to students who study our courses.


Would you like to benefit from the high quality and credible courses developed by ACS DE?

  • Are you interested in setting up your own online school selling our courses?
  • Do you already have an educational business but would like to expand and develop it?

If so, ACS DE offers over 700 courses that you could use to develop your own online school.

We provide -

  • all the course content
  • the learning management system
  • the procedures and assets necessary for you to begin your business.

With ACS Distance Education, there are no limits to the opportunities available for where you can sell courses.

If you would like to know more about affiliate opportunities with ACS, please get in touch.


Share this Article

Search the blog

Follow us

What our partners say

We've been working with ACS over the course of the last three years. Being able to mix and match content to suit our students' needs has been extremely useful. With their material in combination with our own in house tutor service we have been able to provide a complete online learning service which has helped us expand our student cohort and advance our teaching techniques! We are thankful that we have had them as a partner throughout our time in the industry and look forward to many more years of growth together.

Jason T - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

ACS Distance Education have been fantastic to work with over our first 12 months as a start-up online short education affiliate.
They provided immense support in the foundation period ensuring we setup the best support mechanisms for students and engaging quality tutors.
ACS have continued to be receptive to feedback and promptly moved to make improvements wherever required.

David C - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

Having access to ACS' extensive library of digitalised education content has allowed us to scale our business quickly and efficiently. Their LMS is easy to access and manage, whilst also providing the consumer (student) with a professional and easy to use experience. John and Kate have always been a pleasure to work with and are quick to provide support when it is required."

Andrew O - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

Looking for more information?

Fill in your details below for an information pack and discussion with one of our friendly affiliate managers

Please note: we are only considering requests from Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Europe, North America, the Middle East, South Africa, United Kingdom.