AFPA Academic Standards for Acupuncture

3 years training is the minimum agreed professional standard.

Colleges / Learning Providers must meet this agreed minimum standard with the following academic criteria to meet AFPA standards for acupuncture training courses:


AFPA requirement for Acupuncturists is that training programmes meet the professional requirements as agreed by the Board and the membership so that their graduates can meet the agreed professional practice requirements.



Purpose of Agreement of Education in Acupuncture Training Programmes.

  • To ensure the educational programmes of Acupuncture comply with established standards at professional practice.
  • To maintain and improve the academic quality of Acupuncture education
  • To promote further development of professional education in response to the advances in professional practice and scientific research
  • To protect the safety of the general public by ensuring graduates entering the profession are appropriately skilled and qualified


The main responsibilities are to provide acupuncture and TCM education information to the Board so that AFPA can:

  • Develop and define the standards of professional Acupuncture.
  • Propose the criteria and guidelines for educational programmes or courses in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
  • Engage and co-operate with all those involved in professional education, to promote the development in both education and clinical practice


Acupuncture learning providers should meet the agreed professional standard as outlined below:


1. Policy

The institution should have an overall policy or mission statement that should indicate the institution’s overall aims and objectives. This statement of policy should provide direction for the institution. It should incorporate the purpose for which the institution was founded and relate to other policies of the institution. The management, staff and students should be aware of this statement policy.

1.1. Policies

The institution must provide clear policy statements in respect to those matters that support the efficient delivery of the course. Written statements should be included regarding assessment and examination procedures

1.2. Review

Statements of institutional policy must be reviewed periodically and revised when necessary.

2. Legal Organisation

The institution should be legally constituted and be in compliance with all pertinent statutory regulations.

3. Institutional Management

3.1. Representation

The Board, whose duties and responsibilities should be clearly defined, must exercise effective general control over the institution’s affairs. The Board should be appropriate to the legal structure. The submission document should indicate how it operates. Board members should be responsible for directing the accomplishment of the institute’s founding purpose.

3.2. Control

There should be a clearly defined relationship between those with overall control and those responsible for implementing the academic policies of the institution.

3.4. Administration

The institution should have a Director / Principal whose major responsibility is to the institution and a suitable administrative team appropriate to the size and purpose of the institution. The Director, Principal should be responsible to the governing board for the entire operation of the institution and should be directly responsible for the administration of the policies and procedures determined by the governing or academic board.

4. Academic Administration

Institutions must have a clearly defined academic committee chaired by an appropriate senior person. The academic committee should be responsible for facilitating curriculum development, monitoring teaching quality and assessment of courses.

5. Records

The institution should have appropriate record-keeping systems.

5.1. Permanent Records

To comply with the Data Protection Act and other relevant legislation, the institution should maintain and safeguard accurate academic documents as well as records concerning all other institutional matters.

5.2. Data

The institution must maintain data, which should facilitate the compilation of records and statistics. These should include student profiles, showing the number of students enrolled, graduated and readmitted: admissions data showing the number of applications received and accepted: the ages, educational backgrounds of the student body: assessment, examination papers, student results and external examiner reports.

5.3. Clinical Records

The institution must make sure the affiliated teaching clinic maintains accurate, secure and complete clinical records of patients currently being treated by students: clinical assessments: supervisors’ comments on students; and the attendance records of all students.

6. Staffing

The institution should have staff adequately qualified for institutional management and the educational courses/clinical teaching on offer.

6.1. Number

The institution should maintain sufficient teaching staff to perform the responsibilities assigned to them.

6.2. Background and Experience.

General and professional education, teaching and practical professional experience should be appropriate to the subject taught. Every staff member should provide evidence of satisfactory experience and provide continuing evidence of awareness of developments in his/ her field. All institutions should hold on file full professional profiles of all teachers and administrators.

6.3. Professional Development

Staff members should be provided with adequate preparation time and appropriate opportunities for professional growth and development. Provisions for professional development should be reviewed periodically. Staff contracts should clearly specify responsibilities. Evaluation of staff performance should be carried out periodically.

6.4 Policy and Procedures

The recruitment, appointment, promotion and retention of appropriately qualified staff members must be outlined in institutional policies and/or procedures.

6.5 Communication

Provision should be made for regular and open communication between members of staff and the administrative officers of the institution. The staff should collectively consider educational policies and issues. Minutes of meetings or outcomes of alternative methods of communication should be kept in a permanent file within the institution.

7. Learning Resources

The institution must provide student-learning resources and equipment adequate for the educational courses offered or must have made specific long-term written arrangements for reasonable access to alternative resources. The institution must have its own library or collection of learning resources for students or must have executed long-term written contracts providing for the use of other specified library resources with adequate facilities, accessibility and storage. The library should be available to both students and staff and it should underpin the achievement of the institution’s objectives. The operation of the library should be at the College’s discretion.


8. Institutional Resources

The institution must provide facilities that are safe, accessible, functional, appropriately maintained. The facilities should be sufficient to house and run the course as well as accommodate the staff and the student body. The institution should ensure access to clinical and practical resources adequate for the needs of the educational courses offered. When students attend a contracted clinic, a written agreement should clearly specify responsibility for student experience quality assurance.

8.1. Classroom size and equipment

The institution should provide clinic and classroom space properly equipped and appropriate to its curriculum and size.

8.2. Health and Safety

Facilities should meet all applicable legislation including fire and health and safety standards.

8.3. Staff Facilities

Adequate facilities and appropriate media and learning equipment should be available for the support of all staff as well as for students.

8.4. Quality Assurance

The institution must be directly responsible for all off-campus clinical and educational activities regardless of whether or not the activity has been arranged in agreement with other organisations or individuals. If components of the course are conducted at sites geographically separate from the main campus, QA systems in place should demonstrate that clinical and educational components/services are of equivalent quality. Details of the memorandum of agreement for off-campus provision should be made available.

9. Finance

The institution should have an adequate financial base for existing course commitments, must demonstrate adequate financial planning and must have an appropriate financial management system.

9.1. Resources

The institution should be financially stable with resources sufficient to carry out its objective of adequately supporting its courses and activities. The resources should ensure as a minimum that all enrolled students should be able to complete the course. In the case of an institution that has so should have the financial capacity to respond to financial emergencies and unforeseen occurrences. If an accumulated deficit has been recorded, a realistic plan to eliminate such deficit should be clearly presented. This plan should be approved by the governing board. The institution should be able demonstrate that, if it were to cease functioning as an educational establishment, it could meet its obligation to provide appropriate refunds to students.

9.2. Control

The institution should have control of its financial resources and budgetary process and be free from undue influence or pressure from external funding sources or agencies.

9.3 Expenditure

The income of the institution should be expended to provide adequately for: instruction: administration: learning resources: student services and activities: staff development: course development: maintenance: equipment: supplies; and other specific functions which are consistent with the goals of the course.

9.4. Management

The financial management system should be set up to allow for a reviewed audit each year by an independent registered auditor.

9.5. Insurance

Adequate and proper insurance should be in place including cover for employer’s liability, third party liability, buildings and contents, loss of business income and professional indemnity to include treatment carried out by students.

9.6. Refund Policy

There should be a refund policy in respect of tuition paid for by students for courses or modules, which do not take place. The college should also be able to demonstrate that they have a strategy in place to protect their students, in the event of the college being unable to continue with the course.

10. Publications

Public official publications, which honestly and accurately set forth:

  • Educational aims and intentions
  • Entrance requirements and procedures
  • Rules and regulations for conduct and attendance
  • Procedures for discipline and/or dismissal (for academic and other reasons)
  • Grievance procedures for students
  • Fees and equitable refund policies
  • Course completion requirements
  • Members of the governing /advisory boards
  • The outline syllabus, academic calendar, and course schedule.
  • The institution’s admissions (and credit transfers, if appropriate) policies
  • An accurate description of each component of the course of study and the assessment procedure
  • A description of learning and other physical resources
  • Details of the qualification(s) to be awarded upon successful completion of the course
  • Any applicable legal practice requirements
  • Reference to the institution’s policy on equal opportunities

10.1. Honesty and Accuracy

Publicity, advertising and other literature should portray the institution’s educational opportunities to students and the public in language, which is accurate, honest, clear, and unambiguous. Publicity and advertising should not misrepresent employment, career or registration prospects.

All claims for accreditation by other national or international institutions must be supported by documentation. All claims for support and guidance from individuals who are not directly involved in the institution or course must be fully supported by documentation. All statements made should be supported by documentation. False claims made by an institution can adversely affect their eligibility for graduates to be accepted by te association.

10.2. Disclosure

Courses, services, and personnel not available during the academic year must be identified clearly.


11. Goal

The institution should have as a formally adopted educational policy with the objective to prepare students to become highly professional, independent and accountable medical Acupuncturists.

11.1. Content

The statement of policy must demonstrate how the course meets the standards set by the AFPA for entry to the profession.

11.2. Review

Statements of educational policy must be reviewed periodically and revised when necessary. The re-examination of policy should determine whether courses are relevant to stated objectives and that objectives are being met. This review process should include comments from representatives of the student body, teaching staff, administrators, practitioners.


12. Admissions

The institution should have adopted a statement explaining the prerequisites for entry, including ways in which mature students with prior learning or experience should be awarded credit. The admissions policy should make clear its criteria for accepting or otherwise, various entry prerequisites.

13. Programme of Study

The course should satisfy the minimum requirements of the core curriculum. This would be in respect of levels, hours, professional clinical competence, achievement of learning outcomes and other standards of education established by the AFPA and designed to equip the student for independent practice.

13.1. Core Curriculum

The course enables achievement of the learning outcomes within the stated hours. The hours are a minimum requirement and may be exceeded.

13.2. Completion Certificate

To each person successfully completing the professional course, the institution should award a Practitioner Diploma as per the core curriculum.

13.3. Teaching and learning

The course must demonstrate that it achieves the levels laid down in the core curriculum by utilising a variety of appropriate adult teaching and learning strategies. The course should be sufficiently rigorous in breadth and depth and appropriate to the education and training of independent practitioners.

13.5. Teaching

The teaching of students should be the institution’s main priority preparing them for safe, independent, professional practice by gaining the knowledge and skills outlined in the core curriculum published by the AFPA.

13.6. Clinical Teaching

The institution should have and control their own clinical programme of sufficient size, variety, and quality to fulfil its educational purposes. Clinical teaching and practice should consist of formal tuition and practical clinical training. This should include supervised care of patients that allows the student to take increasing levels of responsibility for patient care. The institution should keep a clear and verifiable schedule of student time spent off campus, showing details of dates, times and patient details, without breaching patient confidentiality. Any site visit the association carries out will also include a site visit to any off campus clinical venue.

13.7. Professional Competence

The syllabus should lead to at least a minimum threshold of professional competence to be attained through clinical experience included in the published core curriculum.

13.9. Pastoral Care

There should be a clear policy of pastoral and tutorial support for students.

14. Assessment

The assessment of student achievement should be applied systematically throughout the course. A variety of measures should be employed to ensure the acquisition of knowledge, skills, behaviour and attitudes commensurate with each stage of the course leading ultimately to the performance expected of a qualified, independent practitioner.

14.1. Assessment Calendar

The institution should develop an appropriate set of assessment stages throughout the course that should be presented in diagrammatic terms. Details should be offered to demonstrate and provide evidence of an assessment system that can keep students and the institution informed regarding educational progress.

14.2. External Examiners

In respect of the course, the institution should appoint at least one external examiner who should ensure:

That students’ overall standards of achievement in both the academic and practical components of their  course are commensurate with and, judged in line with, standards normally applied in other equivalent  educational institutions

That assessment methods and intentions support the learning standards of the profession’s core curriculum

That all assessments are conducted fairly and without prejudice

14.3. Appointment of External Examiners

The examiner(s) should be demonstrably knowledgeable of the standards and requirements of the profession and capable of overseeing the institution’s assessment procedures and results.

15. Evaluation

A summary of course evaluation systems and quality assurance procedures should be provided.The institution should evaluate the effectiveness of its education practices and the accomplishment of its stated intentions. This should be carried out by measuring and documenting the achievements of a sufficient number of studentsand graduates in a verifiable and internally consistent manner.