About ASPIRE

The ASPIRE-to-Excellence programme is a flagship AMEE initiative, which has the potential of promoting teaching alongside research as a measure of excellence in a medical, dental or veterinary school.

Recognition of the importance of teaching alongside research as the mission of a school is on today’s agenda. Over the past decade, the move to recognise excellence in universities has been reflected in increasing attention being paid to university league tables. To date, however, university rankings have concentrated on research and with little attention paid to education. This has been rectified and there is now the opportunity for universities to obtain international recognition of excellence in medical, dental and veterinary education.

The concept of teaching excellence has attracted increasing attention and recognition from academics, governments, regulators, students and the public, and is now part of the everyday language and practice of higher education.

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Does your medical, dental or veterinary school offer a high quality education programme?

The ASPIRE initiative encourages and promotes outstanding performance and excellence in education.  The approach recognises that the characteristics of excellence will vary according to local contexts.

Education alongside Research as the Mission of the Medical, Dental or Veterinary School:  Recognition of the importance of teaching alongside research as the mission of a school is on today’s agenda.  Over the past decade, the move to recognise excellence in universities has been reflected in increasing attention being paid to university league tables.  To date, however, university rankings have concentrated on research with little attention paid to education. This has been rectified and there is now the opportunity for universities to obtain international recognition of excellence in medical, dental and veterinary education.

Recognition of Excellence in Education:  The concept of teaching excellence has attracted increasing attention and recognition from academics, governments, regulators, students and the public, and is now part of the everyday language and practice of higher education. 

There is a need for a form of quality assurance that recognises excellence which rightly falls outside the formal accreditation process and is the remit of professional education bodies. The ASPIRE initiative has been designed to recognise excellence, whereas accreditation standards by definition are written to identify gaps and deficiencies.

The ASPIRE programme recognises that the education programme in a school can be subjected to peer review against an agreed set of standards or benchmarks that identify world-class excellence in education. The approach recognises that the characteristics of excellence will vary according to local contexts.

Advantages of the ASPIRE-to-Excellence initiative:  The ASPIRE initiative offers a number of important benefits:

  • The ASPIRE initiative creates an awareness of the importance of education and an understanding that de facto standards for best practice exist in the areas assessed
  • ASPIRE supports a school in monitoring the quality of its education programme and the extent to which it conforms to best practice
  • ASPIRE provides a school with the opportunity to demonstrate and promote their exceptional excellence in teaching and learning and enhances their reputation locally and internationally
  • A school with an ASPIRE award is highlighted as progressive and responding to the education demands of the 21st century
  • Schools recognised with an ASPIRE award are members of the ASPIRE Academy and belong to a network of schools where excellence in education has been demonstrated
  • Through the ASPIRE Academy good practices are shared with other schools resulting hopefully in a more general improvement in education

Areas Assessed:  Schools can apply to be recognised as excellent in one or more of the following areas:

  • Assessment of students
  • Student engagement in the curriculum
  • Social accountability of the school
  • Faculty development
  • Simulation

Who can Apply:  Applications are accepted from medical, dental and veterinary schools and institutions. A school must be recognised by their respective regulatory authority.

Defining Excellence in Education:  A Board and five Panels made up of international leaders and experts in the field, practicing teachers and students, defined the criteria for excellence in each of the five areas:

Submission Process:  The application process has been designed not to be onerous and guidelines and templates are provided. Full details of the criteria in each of the areas and information about the submission process can be found on the ASPIRE website www.aspire-to-excellence.org.

Review of submissions is rigorous.  Each submission is reviewed by a team of three assessors and their reports are considered by the relevant ASPIRE Panel. Recommendations from the panel are reviewed by the ASPIRE Board. Feedback is provided to the medical, dental or veterinary school about their submission.

Deadlines:  The closing date for submissions for 2017 is: 28th February 2017

Announcement of the awards:  The ASPIRE 2017 awards will be presented at the AMEE 2017 Conference, 26-30 August in Helsinki and reported in the press and on the ASPIRE website.

The successful schools receive an ASPIRE trophy and certificate, and can record the award on their website and communications. Members of the school can wear an ASPIRE lapel pin representing the area in which excellence is recognised.

Cost: The standard charge for assessment in one of the three areas is £2,500 reduced to £2,000 per submission for two or more areas over a twelve month period. The charge for emerging countries is £1,500 per submission and £1,250 per submission for two or more submissions over the same twelve month period.

Recent Developments

ASPIRE Award for Excellence in Simulation

Simulation in a medical, dental or veterinary school has been selected as the fifth area where excellence is recognised.  During 2016 an international panel of leading authorities will identify the criteria to be adopted for recognition of excellence in Simulation through a consultative process with the stakeholders. 

Award Winners

We are pleased to announce that the following schools were awarded the ASPIRE-to-Excellence Award at AMEE 2016, Barcelona, Spain

School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, UK Student Engagement
School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, UK - Student Engagement
Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, USA Social Accountability
Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, USA - Social Accountability
East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine, USA Social Accountability
East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine, USA - Social Accountability
University of Leeds, School of Medicine, UK Social Accountability
University of Leeds, School of Medicine, UK  - Social Accountability
Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education (LIME) Network, Australia and New Zealand Social Accountability
Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education (LIME) Network, Australia and New Zealand - Social Accountability
University of California San Francisco, USA Faculty Development
University of California San Francisco, USA - Faculty Development
Royal Veterinary College, University of London, UK Faculty Development
Royal Veterinary College, University of London, UK - Faculty Development
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