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CODL was established ""to improve and enhance the standards of distance learning institutions by the establishment of a system of accreditation". Its inspection processes are designed to support and advise colleges on improving their standards. This does not, however, mean that CODL does not have clear standards when considering colleges for accreditation - indeed around 30% of new applicants do not gain accreditation after the initial inspection, although many of them do eventually meet the requirements by responding to the recommendations of the CODL inspectors.

CODL's inspection procedure for new applicants has two main purposes :

“To allow for a thorough assessment of applicants.
"To provide a filtering mechanism which identifies elements which might prevent the award of accreditation, so enabling institutions to avoid the cost of a full inspection until they have rectified them.

There are three stages in the inspection process :
  • "Stage 1: scrutiny of documentation
  • Stage 2: inspection focusing upon compliance with statutory requirements and CODL's minimum standards. Initial accreditation may be awarded after this stage for a period of up to six months
  • Stage 3: inspection focusing on the educational provision and the institution's procedures to monitor and enhance the quality of its provision. Full accreditation may be awarded after this stage. This procedure will be normal for all new applicants, although where a college is clearly well established it may be acceptable to combine stages 2 and 3 as a single full inspection.
Colleges applying for CODL accreditation must satisfy inspectors that they meet statutory requirements in essential areas such as standard of education, course curriculum, meeting the needs of the market trend etc.
Inspections are carried out by teams drawn from independent Inspectors. The teams are led by Reporting Inspectors, who produce reports for consideration by the Accreditation Committee.

CODL-accredited colleges provide myriad learning opportunities within the framework of independent further and higher education, for students who want the flexibility to study their own way.

Our colleges fall mainly into three categories: colleges preparing students for university entry; colleges offering vocational and professional education; and colleges working in partnership with a university or awarding body to offer fully-validated higher education courses. Within these three categories, traditional A level, diploma and degree programmer keep company with more modern, vocational subjects such as Business, IT, Hospitality and Tourism, and even such diverse pursuits as complementary therapies, art, design, fashion and drama.
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