Accreditation and Recognition

Accreditation and recognition is an extremely complex issue, given that there are hundreds (if not thousands) of accreditation bodies around the world, and no course is ever going to be accredited or recognised everywhere. The important thing is that you choose education that is going to be meaningful for what you need.

The Principal

The principal, John Mason, has been honoured by several professional bodies both in the UK and Australia. He is a fellow of: the Institute of Horticulture (UK), the Australian Institute of Horticulture, and Parks and Leisure Australia. His books have used by colleges and universities around the world as texts and prescribed references in courses ranging from horticulture degrees to gardening apprenticeships. Several of his 35 books have become best seller (eg. "Commercial Hydroponics" first published in 1989  has been printed 8 times, and still sells today. "Nursery Management" has been in print for more than 10 years)

How important is Accreditation and Recognition?

If you plan to be a doctor or lawyer, they are critical. Unless your course is accredited, you cannot work in those professions. In horticulture and many other professions recognition is only a secondary factor when you apply for a job. Employers will take notice of whether a course is accredited when they look at a job application -but they also take notice of the subjects you studied, the amount of science in your course, your level of plant identification, how well you communicate, and other things. On the basis of all of these things, they choose who to give an interview to (or who to contract a job with)

Once you get the interview, your knowledge and presentation are what gets you the job. The importance of accreditation fades away at that point.

Once you get a job; it is your performance that affects your progress. What you know and what you can do will result in a career advancing. Employers don't say this employee is a better worker, but this other one has a  better recognised qualification - so I will promote the one with the better recognised qualification.

We understand these things at ACS. We have a clear focus on putting your  learning before everything else. We don't spend money or waste our focus on accreditation if they are costly and distracting for our teaching staff -in this way we are different to some other colleges; but we strongly believe that this  is both a more productive, ethical and sustainable way  of providing you with an education that will  serve you for life.



We run a wide range of RHS Qualifications, which are awarded by the Royal Horticultural Society (UK) -arguably the world's most presigeous horticultiral body. Some RHS courses are also accredited by government authorities in the UK.

ACS has been established since 1979, and has established a high level of respect in academic circles within a range of disciplines in the UK, Australia and beyond. Staff include world renowned academics from several countries, and it maintains active partnerships with respected institutions in several countries including Ireland, Australia and Singapore. Many of these affiliates are formally recognised by government education authorities in their respective countries. ACS is affiliated with a group of around a dozen other colleges, located in Australia, the UK, Singapore, France and Ireland (see Educational Affiliates). Many of these colleges hold government accreditation and offer articulation for ACS graduates into accredited qualifications. Affiliates in the UK include Worcester College (incorp. Pershore College) in the midlands and Warnborough College in Kent.

The school’s credentials are varied, and include:

ACS is recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council (IARC). Most ACS courses (certificate and higher) are accredited by IARC.

You can see the standards that endorse and adhere to on the IARC site: click here


International Accreditation and Recognition Council (IARC)
ACS is recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council (IARC). Most ACS courses (Certificate and higher) are accredited by IARC.

Accreditation Board of the Maldives
ACS is accredited by the Accreditation Board of the Maldives

Institute of Horticulture

Institute of Horticulture (UK) Careers Advisory Board
ACS is a member of the Institute of Horticulture (UK) Careers Advisory Board.

Australian Institute of Horticulture
The principal, John Mason, is a fellow of AIH. ACS holds Training Provider status with the AIH and is now listed as a Preferred Member Training Provider. As such, ACS students who meet AIH criteria are entitled to subscribe to AIH as the Category 2 Student member.

Royal Horticutural Society
ACS conducts RHS qualifications, including Certificate II to M.Hort. qualifications, which are awarded by the RHS after passing RHS conducted examinations. These awards include ones accredited through the Qualifications Curriculum Authority.

Complementary Medicine Association

Complementary Medicine Association
College Member of Complementary Medicine Association assessed to teach a range of areas including Counselling, Nutrition, Natural Therapies.

Australian Counselling Association

Australian Counselling Association
ACS conducts a Diploma in Psychology and Counselling formally recognised through the Australian Counselling Association.

Association of Coaching (U.K.)
Life Coaching is accredited through the Association of Coaching (U.K.)


ACS Global Partners

ACS Global Partners Network
Member of ACS Global Partners Network – committed to Ethical Education

British Institute for Learning and Development

The school has been a member for many years.

ACS and its staff are members of many UK and overseas industry bodies, including :

  • British Institute for Learning and Development
  • Complimentary Medicine Association (UK)
  • Institute of Horticulture (UK)
  • Australian Institute of Horticulture
  • Garden Media Guild
  • Horticultural Media Association
  • Australian Nursery Industry Association
  • International Herb Association
  • Association for Coaching (UK) Organisational Member (OMAC)
  • Alternative Technology Association
  • The Permaculture Association
  • Study Gold Coast

Further Accreditation

ACS has held various other formal accreditation (including government agency recognition in more than one country) in the past, however many of these accreditations were found to add significant cost to courses, without providing any significant benefit to graduates.

ACS believes that the most ethical and efficient approach for us to take is to focus our primary attention on our courses and our students. We have found over several decades that this has resulted in a high level of satisfied graduates who have a much higher success rate in industry than if we focus more heavily on accreditation and recognition.

If your main reason for studying is to learn and increase your capacity to function within your chosen discipline, this could be an ideal college for you.

There are literally thousands of bodies around the world that grant accreditation; so if your main purpose is to obtain some type of formal endorsement from a particular organisation or government authority, then you will need to be sure about which authority you would like to be endorsing your course, and then seek a college that has that particular endorsement (or accreditation).

Many of the courses we have developed are offered by affiliate institutions who have government accreditations. If you must have more formal recognition than what we offer, ask us to recommend one of our affiliates.


This is a common question for students & colleges and not always so simple to answer.

The only real way for anyone to answer this question is to talk with a lot of employers, and industry professionals, and ask for their opinion. We encourage you to do that if recognition is of concern to you.

When asked, people may be asking any one of a multitude of different things. For some, recognition is about “endorsement”, while for others it is to do with “credibility”, and yet others, “how useful the course might be”.

If you look at dictionary definitions of recognition, you see thinks like “being acknowledged”, “a growing realization”, “acceptance of something being true” or even “understanding”.

Recognition of education is in fact a complex and multi faceted property. Recognition is in fact made up of a number of components; and education that is recognised in one way, is not necessarily recognised in other ways.

What then are some of the components of recognition?

Usefulness –What is the purpose of the course and how well does it serve that purpose. What are the capabilities of graduates a year or two after graduating. A course that passes students is only useful if the students do not forget what they have learnt a year or two after graduating. Some courses can implant temporary skills, while others can implant more permanent skills

Understanding - Is there a clear understanding of what the course involves. If the course outlines & documentation are unclear or scant; there can be uncertainty about whether understanding is strong.

Visibility –How visible is the course? What people are aware of it’s existence, and where are those people? Are they locals only, or spread around the world?

Acknowledgement –Who acknowledges the course? Who endorses it, not only formally but informally? Also who criticizes it? While courses might be supported by some, they can also be criticized by others. If you only become aware of one group, you cannot form a balanced understanding of it’s worth.
These may be…. Employers, Academics, Individuals, Professional bodies, Politicians, Government bureaucrats, Experts in the field, etc.

How well does someone understand this question when they ask it?

Over 40 years of involvement in post secondary education, I have come to conclude that most people don’t really appreciate what they are asking.
Most people have a sub conscious desire to feel that a course they enter is safe and appropriate, and are looking for a yes or no answer.
Most colleges are looking to be able to give a yes or no answer; because that makes selling a course easier.

At the end of the day though; you can never accurately and clearly say that a course is or is not recognised without qualifying that answer.
To be ethical and honest, you should say such things as who it as and is not acknowledged by, and how well the course is both understood and visible by the world at large, etc

How Well then Are ACS Courses Recognised?

The short answer is that our courses are more useful than many if not most of a similar duration; highly visible (you will see that from our web profile); endorsements are mixed as is the case with almost every course on the planet; and as far as understanding -you need to read our outlines and judge that for yourself.