Why Accreditation is Important

The Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) conducts a formal accreditation process which recognises diplomas, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that have as their primary objective the thorough preparation of students for a career in public relations.

PRIA Accreditation is important for the profession and the future of public relations practice: PRIA Accreditation demonstrates that educational providers have committed to an extensive and ongoing process to ensure their courses align with current industry practice: educators and academics play a vital role in progressing the profession in concert with the industry body; and graduates are equipped with best practice skills and competencies that make them attractive to potential employers. Graduates of accredited degree programs enjoy accelerated progression from associate membership (APRIA) to full professional membership (MPRIA) in three years.

Public Relations has assembled the constituted body of knowledge that is a prerequisite for professional practice. PRIA’s accreditation process contributes to transmitting this knowledge to the present and future generations by reviewing education programs against established criteria. The Institute accredits individual courses, not the Institutions, and seeks to build partnerships with all sectors of educational provision, underpinned by the provision of resources such as teaching materials, scholarships, work experience opportunities, guest lecturers and student prizes.

Educational institutions elect to seek PRIA Accreditation as a measure of recognition by the PR industry's peak professional body. Submissions are referred to the PRIA Education Community Committee (ECC) which forms review panels to assess each application. The application templates require detailed particulars about the curriculum, the qualifications and experience of the academic staff, and about the student support services. A separate subject statement template is needed for each unit in the PR stream and these core subjects must constitute 40 per cent of post-secondary diplomas, at least 33 percent of undergraduate degrees and 50 per cent of Masters’ programs.

For information about ECC - https://www.pria.com.au/index.cfm//about-pria/pria-committees/education-community-committee/

Recognised Accreditation Programs

Undergraduate Degrees

The fundamental purpose of an undergraduate public relations education is to provide the student with a well-rounded program of study, including a substantial area of specialisation in public relations and communication management. Accreditation applies to the whole degree and not just the Major. For a detailed account of knowledge and skills recommended at AQF 7, refer to the PRIA Educational Framework.

The Undergraduate Application Form sets out criteria by which Registered Training Organisations in the tertiary sector can balance academic qualifications of lecturing staff with excellence in ongoing involvement in PR practice.

Public Relations programs that are delivered outside of Australia, whether in collaboration with Australian Institutions or independently, are similarly eligible to apply for accreditation.

Postgraduate Coursework Degrees

PRIA accredits Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Master’s programs by coursework. These degrees vary from one or two semesters to one or two years, full-time or the equivalent part-time study respectively. Students would typically either have undergraduate degrees in communication or in disciplines other than public relations or may be admitted on the basis of industry experience. Specifics of the defining features of these different qualifications are described in the Postgraduate Application Form.

A Graduate Certificate would typically be provided as a means of transition from other fields of communication and must only include communication/public relations subjects. Graduate Diploma and Masters’ programs degrees should consist of at least 66 per cent (five units) and 50 per cent (12 units) respectively in public relations /communication subjects, so as to provide students with a strong grounding in the knowledge and skills described at AQF level 8 in the PRIA Educational Framework. Masters by Research must include AQF level 9 units and any minor research thesis has to be in public relations.

Vocational Education and Training Diploma Programs

PRIA invites applications to accredit degrees from Private Training Institutions that have been previously excluded by criteria modelled on the coexistence of research, teaching and learning.

Diploma programs prepare students for entry level roles in public relations and address the competencies of technical operations. The performance measures and recommended content of Australian Qualifications Framework (ASQ) level 5 programs are specified in the PRIA Educational Framework. Completion of accredited Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses is intended to provide a standard for entry directly into employment and/or articulation into tertiary education. However, recognition of prior learning remains at the discretion of individual tertiary institutions. Details of recommended course content and staffing are set out in the Diploma Application Form. Accelerated progression of PRIA membership does not apply to Diploma graduates.

Teaching and Learning Resources

PRIA expects that students will be provided with appropriate resources to enhance their learning experience and achieve the learning outcomes of the degree. Applicants should outline the physical and online resources available to students as well as detail how these resources are updated to ensure currency with contemporary practice.

The PRIA website is a rich source of materials that members can access, including historical records of Golden Target Award winning campaigns, the knowledge bank, the Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, industry news, and professional development and networking events. Educational Institutions can liaise with State Councils to arrange guest lectures, internships and assistance at awards ceremonies. The Public Relations Institute offers a complimentary New Practitioner membership to graduates receiving best student or high achievement prizes.

Academic Staff

The application should outline the academic and professional backgrounds of all teaching staff. The public relations degree coordinator in a university should be a full-time, senior academic who holds or is studying towards a PhD or other higher degree in the communication field. He/she should also have had extensive practical experience in public relations practice. The coordinator in Private Training Institutions degrees must demonstrate adherence to exacting standards for the recruitment and management of lecturers who bring rich, current public relations experience to the students’ learning experience.

Supporting the course coordinator should be academic staff with appropriate degrees as well as experience in public relations practice. The application should outline how academic continue their professional development by work in practice, by consulting, by research and/or by participation in professional organisations. PRIA recommends that teaching staff in accredited degrees be financial members of the Institute.

Advisory Committee

It is a prerequisite for Accreditation that a formal advisory committee, including teaching staff and students associated with the accredited course, be established to meet at least twice a year. The committee should include senior professional members of the Institute (FPRIA and MPRIA). The Application should provide details of membership of this committee and outline the meeting schedules and relevant issues raised by committee members. As part of the review process, members of the Advisory Committee may be contacted for comment.

The Accrediting Process

Applicants must complete the relevant application form available from the PRIA website and provide all supporting documentation as outlined on the form. A subject statement form also needs to be completed for each subject in the public relations stream.

Applications for, and expressions of interest in, seeking Accreditation should be sent to admin@pria.com.au.

Note that on receipt of an Application, the PRIA ECC will form a review panel, comprised of senior academics and practitioners who do not reside in the state where the Application is lodged. The assessment panel may seek additional information from the applicant, members of the advisory committee and may seek information from other parties as it sees fit.

Summary of process for accreditation application

1.  

Educational Institution completes and submits applicaton and subject statements to PRIA

2.

National Education Committee reviews application on receipt of application fee

3.

Questions arising from the review are returned to the institution and/or advisory committee members and followed up in Skype interviews where appropriate

4.

Approved degrees charged the annual fee per unit and feature on the PRIA website upon receipt of the annual fee

5.

Student of accredited degree progams enjoy Student membership of PRIA and no cost

Enquiries about PRIA accreditation should be addressed to the Public Relations Institute of Australia of 02 9331 3346.