Assignments of “Educational Merit” for Courses/Events Related to Nutritional Support

Background information

Education is a discipline with its own curriculum. Any organisation wishing to assign educational "value" to its activities must, therefore, conform with existing guidance and regulations to attract academic credibility. The following descriptions provide an insight to the various options that are currently available.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is an important component of clinical practice. A number of profession al bodies (nursing, medicine, professions allied to medicine, pharmacy) are now setting criteria for the level of professional development that must be achieved by individuals to maintain registration.

Implicit to CPD are educational courses and events which may be categorised as shown below:



  • Accredited by an academic Institution and leading to a relevant academic award e.g. BSC, MSC, MPhil., PhD
  • Normally provided by a higher/further education institution to provide a recognised academic award/qualification e.g. validated modules at identified levels for NVQ


Provided by an appropriate organisation to update general knowledge and skills. This does not necessarily contribute to any academic award but can be noted as having educational merit.

  • By another organisation, for example,
    • BAPEN
    • a professional organisation (BDA, UKCC)
    • a local NHS Trust
  • By the individual delegate

Formal Courses

These are clearly structured with identified academic levels, aims and learning outcomes. There are also, unusually, an identified number of learning hours which is identified by the level for the final award.

These validated courses are either:

1. Complete in themselves e.g. full time MSc in Clinical Nutrition or

2. Structured on a modular and/or part-time basis. Each module will be individually validated and, by building up a number of modules within an identified time, a higher degree qualification can be obtained.

The validation process is undertaken by the academic institution using a validation panel which will include experts in both education and the particular clinical speciality. It is, obviously, important that any such organisation is recognise to have credibility in the area in which validation is so conferred and this will all ensure that the quality of the course reflects the award.

Informal Courses

Normally these are much shorter in duration are often organised in response to an identified need e.g. clinical developments, new techniques. They are also used to raise awareness, explore new approaches an update delegates’ knowledge and skills.

It is important to make sure that such events are educationally well organised and structured. This means that learning outcomes should be clearly defined and that, if possible, a variety of teaching techniques should be used by a range of teachers. An element of reflection on the delegates’ current practice should also be included.

‘One-off’ study days are a useful means of sharing information. These may have a significant educational component (e.g. if devised as a part of a continuing professional development programme) or they may be less rigorously structured to reflect more local and timely needs. These will, generally, carry an ‘endorsement’ or ‘recognition’ categorisation.

Informal courses can either be ‘accredited’, ‘endorsed’ or ‘recognised’.

Accreditation is usually awarded by an organisation with degree awarding powers or which has credibility in a particular area e.g. nutritional support. It does not usually confer academic merit although there is often and element of pre-and post-course work which may be formatively or summatively assessed – thus encouraging a continuing learning, process. In most cases the course organisers will have to provide a great deal of information about course content, delivery and expected learning outcomes. The nature of accreditation awarded will be identified and specific education al out comes will also be clearly identified.

Endorsement is a less involved process whereby course organisers can show that basic principles have been followed to demonstrate that the event has educational merit although it need not necessarily contribute to an academic award. The endorsing organisation will need to satisfy itself that the courses described objectives will be met. This is the level of award which will often be sought by nurses, dietitians and pharmacists who are pursuing formal programmes of continuing professional development.

Recognition is a simply way of showing that an event has topical value in terms of updating specific areas of knowledge or skills. The educational content is still important but is not so fundamental in terms of academic credibility.

The Process of Gaining Recognition or Endorsement

BAPEN is committed to continuing professional development and is delivering high quality educational programmes. It also has an important role in encouraging other organisations to devise courses/educational events which will meet identified educational needs related to nutritional support. BAPEN will consider recognising or endorsing informal short courses provided identified criteria are met. Ideally courses should be organised on a multi-professional basis (reflecting the ethos of BAPEN) but this does not preclude the recognition or endorsement of uni-professional events. The attached form should be completed and sent the Chairman of the Education and the Training Committee by e-mail and educational merit will then be assigned conditionally upon meeting the identified criteria.

Points to note:

  • Applications for endorsement should be submitted at least 3 months before the proposed event. Whenever possible/practical applications will be processed within 3-4 weeks provided that all the necessary supporting information is received.
  • Endorsement will be valid for a period of 2 years after which a new application must be made
  • Applications for recognition should be submitted at least 4 weeks before the proposed event. These will be processed as quickly as possible/practical.
  • Recognition will be valid for a period of 1 year after which a new application must be made.

Once BAPEN endorsement/recognition has been agreed the course organisers can:

  • Advertise this in the course material using BAPEN logo
  • Request BAPEN stationary to support the course
  • Provide delegates with BAPEN-approved certificates of attendance on completion of the course (these can be supplied on request)

Other organisations may also be prepared to endorse/accredit short courses e.g. British Dietetic Association, College of Pharmacy Practice . Courses organisers may want to pursue theses options to attract more delegates and some useful addresses are provided in Appendix 2 along with the relevant certificates of attendance.

Application for BAPEN Endorsement of Educational Events

Please complete the details on the form below and then return by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Download the application form (Word doc)

Contact the Education & Training Committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Professional Evidence of Attendance at Educational Events to Fulfil the Requirements of Continuing Professional Development


The CPD registration/attendance forms are available from:

BAPEN Office
Seven Elms,
Dark Lane,
Astwood Bank,
B96 6HB

Tel: +44 (0)1527 518777
Fax: +44 (0)1527 518718


Record of attendance/evaluation sheets are available from:

The British Dietetic Association
7th Floor, Elizabeth House
Suffolk Street Queensway
Birmingham B1 1LJ

Tel: +44 (0)121 631 4551


There are no formal forms although nursing delegates will probably ask for a certificate of attendance and organisational information


Certificates of attendance are available from:

The College of Pharmacy Practice
University of Warwick Science Park
Barclays Venture Centre
Sir William Lyons Road
Coventry CV4 7EZ

Tel: +44 (0)1203 692 5400


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