Accreditation promoting statisticians

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The Federation of European National Statistical Societies ( has created a system for accreditation of statisticians (AEUStat). Similar systems are in place in, among others, UK, USA, Canada and Australia and they have served as models for FENStatS’ AEUStat accreditation.

Coping with country differences

One particular challenge for FENStatS was the multinational foundation of the organization. FENStatS has 26 national associations as members, where 23 are members of the European union and three (Norway, Switzerland and the UK) are not. Also, the European Central Bank (ECB), is a member. This gives a picture of the diversity of the FENStatS members, not to forget the cultural, traditional, legal and procedural standards that can differ in a lot of ways. Also, some of the FENStatS members have, either as a membership criteria or as additional service, partially adopted accreditation procedures of their own.

The solution was to create a two tier-system, where FENStatS gives the national associations an opportunity to join in the accreditation system, and thereby offering accreditation to its members.

We found it important that an applicant can submit his/her application, especially referral letters and sample material, in a language used in his/her home country. Within academia English works as an international lingua franca and in many international corporations English is sometimes used for internal communication. But we cannot neglect the fact that many Europeans struggle with English and in many parts of Europe it is required that your national language is used in official communication. Many applicants working in public sector will neither have communication samples nor references in English.

The European Union has 24 official languages, and the non-EU members of FENStatS add Norwegian and Romansh to the list. After the Brexit, Ireland and Malta are the only EU member states with English as official language – together with Irish and Maltese!

Local presence

The idea of the accreditation system is to simplify the assessment of competence over country borders. However, the European labour market – in spite of all intents of removing borders – still has special peculiarities of the countries and sometimes even within countries. To make it possible to validate references efficiently, we believe that the local presence is important. The auditors need to be able to assess the reliability of references, job titles, possible affiliations etc and this requires ability to handle the local culture and languages.

When the system was launched, we also found it necessary to minimize administration, by letting the national associations handle the payments. Many business and public administrations follow national interests and FENStatS members pay in ten different currencies. 

FENStatS’ ownership & standard

The two tier-system implies that FENStatS owns and defines the standard for accreditation. The national associations which want to offer their members the possibility of accreditation join in and accept the rules set up by FENStatS. They also need to provide a sufficient number of auditors (at least three) to check their members applications. This procedure will make it possible to use local references and sample work in the respective local language. The main task for the FENStatS accreditation committee is to oversee that the system works as intended and defend the standard of the system. FENStatS also provides an application portal, where the applications are uploaded and the auditors validate the applications.

The AEUStat is modelled using existing standards as a benchmark, such as those of the American Statistical Association or the Royal Statistical Society. The intention through the whole process is that AEUStat shall be mutually recognized with them and other similar systems in, for example, Canada and Australia. An agreement is made with ASA at this point, but further agreements are underway. At the time when this is being written, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, France, Italy and Sweden are providing accreditation for its members and the first applications have already been approved.

Call for cooperation

We would like to call upon other accreditation bodies to meet and discuss how we can cooperate internationally for the good of statistics and statisticians.

Magnus Pettersson
FENStatS Accreditation Committee

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This post is written by an author or authors in their personal capacity and in no way represent the view of the organisations, universities, governments, or agencies where they are employed or with which they are associated, or the views of the International Statistical Institute (ISI).

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