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Subject: Accreditation


From: C. Velson Horie <c.v.horie>
Date: Tuesday, April 27, 1999
Professional accreditation of conservators (UK)

Update by C.V.Horie, Chair of the Joint Accreditation Group


Three conservation bodies in the UK are aspiring to professional
status and have pooled their resources to develop a widely
acceptable scheme under the auspices of the Conservation Forum.  The
work has been part funded by the Museums and Galleries Commission
and Historic Scotland.  The draft proposals in a number of linked
documents are out for consultation and are posted on the web at
<URL:>. [Mirrored at

The page includes an abbreviated introduction.


In the UK, a profession is a self-governing body of practitioners
that sets and maintains standards, then accredits and disciplines
its members.  State interference in this process is considered to be
a threat to professional status.  Although it varies over time, the
climate in the UK is towards self- or de-regulation, and it is
unlikely that the term "conservator" will achieve the legal
protection historically enjoyed by, say, "architect".  By contrast,
other countries, notably in continental Europe, the state regulates
the process that defines competence.

A profession is successful only if it carries the support of those
affected: the practitioners, the clients, the public.  In a market
economy, a quality standard is effective when that standard is
known, respected and implemented widely. Each of the parties pays a
price for and benefits from using this standard when it is working
properly.  The practitioner must demonstrate that he can reach and
maintain over a whole career the evolving standard of practice of
conservation - but will receive a proper reward for doing so.  The
client will pay more for the work and may have his choice of
practitioner limited (compared with now) only to those who have
demonstrated their competence--but will receive a service that does
not fall below a fairly high quality threshold.  The public will
have to fund (some at least of) the training and development costs
and to accept a de facto regulation of standards by a self-appointed
body--but it will be assured that its heritage will be maintained to
a higher standard than otherwise.

European aspects

The social and procedural context of "professionalism" is different
in some continental countries, where a legal definition is required
for recognition.  In addition, there is a presumption of using
academic qualifications (i.e. a degree) with time served as the
criterion for acceptance into the profession, (cf ECCO web pages).
This proposed UK scheme explicitly includes non-academic routes to
accreditation and thus creates potential difficulties with ECCO
criteria.  These differences are a matter of debate within the UK
community and between ECCO and UK organisations.


Following the consultation, the proposals will be modified as
necessary.  It is intended that the final version will then be
ratified by the three bodies in time for implementation in January
2000.  Please send comments on the proposals to

    clare [at] ipc__org__uk
    subject line: "JAG consultation"

before 11th June 1999.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:83
                  Distributed: Friday, April 30, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-12-83-004
Received on Tuesday, 27 April, 1999

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