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Background and information about the Equivalence process. (last updated Dec 2013, with links to Equivalence Guidance)


As well as a new career framework and training routes MSC provides equivalence arrangements to allow entry to and progression through the career framework without the need for unnecessary retraining. The national consultation on the MSC proposals in 2008 identified strong support for a system of equivalence that recognises educational qualifications, and accreditation of prior experiential learning and is applicable to all levels and stages of the MSC Career Framework. Further policies in relation to the implementation of equivalence were produced as a result of MSC. These policies identified the AHCS as the UK wide organisation that would perform the equivalence process. These policies have been used to inform the process the AHCS has developed to assess equivalence.


What is equivalence?

In the context of education, training, qualifications and experience, equivalence is said to exist when the outcomes of two processes are directly comparable even though the paths to achieving them are different. When equivalence is shown to exist between a new qualification and the qualification or experience a person already has, further education or training becomes unnecessary.

The Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS) is developing an equivalence assessment process for healthcare science practitioners and scientists who have undertaken training, hold qualifications and/or have considerable professional experience, and who wish to show that these are equivalent to the relevant Modernising Scientific Careers (MSC) programme.

In order to demonstrate equivalence an applicant will need to provide evidence that they have the knowledge, skills and behaviours represented by the core standards in Good Scientific Practice and the relevant MSC curriculum outcomes. When a person successfully meets the equivalence criteria they are issued a Certificate of Equivalence. This certificate confers eligibility to apply for appropriate registration e.g. for the Scientist Training Programme (STP), equivalence would provide eligibility to apply for statutory regulation with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a Clinical Scientist.

Equivalence for different groups across the career framework will start at different times. The process will be piloted and then a phased roll out will take place throughout 2013. The equivalence process may vary slightly depending on the level of equivalence being sought by an applicant. Guidance for applicants is being developed, including examples of evidence required, and will be published on the website as soon as they become available.

Examples of reasons for applying for equivalence assessment are:

  • having trained before the current system of accredited training programmes for Healthcare Science began, and needing recognition of their training for further progression.
  • having significant experience as a scientist but not in a health setting and wanting to undertake a Healthcare Science role.
  • having trained in a country without accredited Healthcare Science education and training and wishing to practise in the UK.

The fees for equivalence are still to be finalised. They will be structured along a sliding scale for each level of equivalence to ensure that the process is accessible across the career framework.

An example of the process for STP equivalence assessment:

An applicant will submit an application to the AHCS, and this will be screened initially to ensure the individual is who they claim to be and that their qualifications and experience are valid. If the applicant passes the screening they will be asked to compile a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate their equivalence to the standards of ‘Good Scientific Practice’ and the applicable curriculum outcomes. The applicant will have a maximum of six months to submit a completed portfolio.

The submitted portfolio will be sent for assessment by a panel of assessors. The assessors will determine whether the portfolio provides all the necessary information and if so, will then invite the applicant for interview.

The assessment panel will make a recommendation about the person’s equivalence, based on both the portfolio and the interview. This will be considered by the AHCS governance structures and if the recommendation is supported, the applicant will receive a Certificate of Equivalence.

The assessment panel will comprise at least two professional assessors and a lay assessor. All assessors are specially appointed to their roles by the AHCS and receive training. Assessors make a recommendation based on the evidence they receive.

There are three possible outcomes of equivalence assessment:

  • Full equivalence is determined and a Certificate of Equivalence is issued.
  • Partial equivalence is determined and the applicant is invited to resubmit further information/evidence to support their application.
  • Equivalence is not determined and the applicant is advised to undertake a full accredited programme.

For further information on equivalence, please see the FAQs page

Expressions of Interest process

Prior to going live for STP Equivalence applications, the AHCS operated an Expressions of Interest process for Clinical Scientist Equivalence, asking individual professionals to put forward their name if they are looking to go through Equivalence. This allowed the Academy to help to coordinate the process and make sure it runs as smoothly as possible.

As at Feb 2014, just over 300 individuals had said they wished to go through Clinical Scientist Equivalence, across the specialisms of Healthcare Science.

Read the analysis of the Expressions of Interest (pdf, 200kb)


Further information