The CSP has an important role in safeguarding the quality of physiotherapy pre-registration programmes in the UK by advising what should be taught on pre-registration programmes and assessing the quality. The CSP works closely with education providers to enhance programmes allowing learners to be best prepared for current and emerging physiotherapy roles.
What is accreditation?
To become a physiotherapist, students must complete and pass a pre-registration programme (course) taught by an education provider either at university or as part of a Degree Apprenticeship. Currently, all pre-registration programmes in the UK are accredited by the CSP, meaning all higher education institutions (HEIs) have demonstrated their programmes meet the highest standards. All pre-registration programmes are also approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which is the UK regulator. Read more about the HCPC’s process.
Criteria for CSP accreditation includes the more obvious clinical requirements; for example, HEIs must support students to build and consolidate core physiotherapy knowledge, skills values and behaviours; develop research skills and entrepreneurship. Criteria also include the more practical aspects, like ensuring there are enough tutors for the number of students enrolled on to a programme and making sure the classrooms are fit for purpose. Vitally, our standards also ensure robust mental health support is available to students.
Why is accreditation important?
The accreditation and re-accreditation processes are important because it makes sure students qualify as safe and competent practitioners as possible.
The CSP is uniquely positioned to advise and enhance each university’s programmes as it has oversight of all programmes as a whole. By creating a supportive relationship with providers, best practice and knowledge is shared between institutions, driving innovation.
The CSP strives for all HEIs to achieve accredited status and works in collaboration with teaching teams to develop the very best from each programme.
To secure CSP accreditation, HEIs must provide documentation and evidence that demonstrates their programmes meet the standards.
As part of the review process, meetings are held with the teaching staff, students and service users on an existing programme, practice educators, clinicians and managers from local physiotherapy practices and hospital trusts.
An expert panel then examines the paperwork to decide if the programme has met the criteria. If it has, then the programme has secured accreditation, but if not, the panel will propose changes that once implemented, will lead to accreditation.
The panel is made up of CSP Education Representatives who are experienced university lecturers and qualified physios in their own right. They volunteer their time to be involved in the CSP accreditation process. The process is impartial because Education Reps are not involved in their own HEI’s accreditation process or those where a potential conflict of interest might impact the outcome.
The decisions made by the panel are overseen by the Professional Committee and ultimately, the CSP's Council.
Once accredited, any future change the HEI wants to make to programmes must be approved by the panel, and this is called re-accreditation. For example, suppose an HEI wanted to make a change to an existing module or change the curriculum. In these cases, programme teams will need to inform the CSP who would scrutinise the change with the panel before agreeing or declining with suggested points to consider.
Accreditation is valid for four-seven years, and at this point, the university would need to apply for re-accreditation. However, we expect teams to be dynamic and look to develop programmes to make sure students qualify with the most relevant and up-to-date knowledge as possible. We would therefore be in contact with the universities more regularly than every seven years.
One of our contact points is the annual quality review. This is an annual check-in, which requires HEIs to provide information about all pre-registration programmes. The data is reviewed individually to assure quality, and collectively in order to draw out trends on the student profile, staffing levels and information on how placements are diversifying and the quality of programmes are enhancing.