Program improvement FAQs

The MSC answers your frequently asked questions about the program improvement process. Don’t see the answer you want? Email us your questions.

Does every program improvement result in a change to the MSC's certification requirements?

When MSC embarks on a review of an aspect of the certification program, we identify the objectives of the review, and through investigation (research, consultation, etc.) develop options for the best way to achieve those objectives. Often these options do include proposed changes to certification requirements, but equally often they include other solutions such as improved communication, training, or guidance. It is ultimately up to MSC's governance bodies to decide the best course of action in light of MSC's strategic priorities and impacts on stakeholders, and the implementation plan for any agreed changes takes these impacts into consideration.

Do you only show the issues that have a chance of becoming prioritised?
One of the aims of the program improvements database is to provide a transparent record of issues of concern to our stakeholders. We can’t take every single issue forward, but we can at least record stakeholder concerns. In this way, stakeholders can see a history of which issues have and haven’t been prioritised for further work, and why, which may help shape their own thinking.

Why might you not prioritise a suggestion?
For practical reasons we cannot take every issue forward, so we have to prioritise. Some issues may not fit with the goals of the MSC or its program, some may already have been considered, while others may simply be irrelevant or inappropriate. The database records stakeholder issues, both those taken forward and those not prioritised, with supporting information to help you understand why.

So once an issue has been rejected, it can’t be proposed again?
Not necessarily. Science and industry are constantly changing, so priorities can change as more evidence comes to light.

Does this continual review process make it difficult for certificate holders and others to keep up?

MSC recognises the need to balance maintaining a relevant and robust program with the equally important need for program stability. This is why an impact assessment is carried out for each proposed change, and implementation arrangements take into consideration the needs of certificate holders and other stakeholders. For example a program improvement that results in a change to the certification requirements may not apply to existing certificate holders for a number of years in order to allow them to get ready for the change.