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HIGHER EDUCATION ACCREDITATION IN THE UNITED STATES What International Education Professionals REALLY Need to Know Presenters: Ann M. Koenig, AACRAO, USA Rolf Lofstad, NOKUT, Norway Chair: Eric Staab, Grinnell College, USA 1.1. What is “accreditation”?

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HIGHER EDUCATION ACCREDITATION IN THE UNITED STATES

What International Education

Professionals REALLY Need to Know

Presenters:

Ann M. Koenig, AACRAO, USA

Rolf Lofstad, NOKUT, Norway

Chair: Eric Staab, Grinnell College, USA


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1.1. What is “accreditation”?

  • Process to ensure quality, accountability, improvement

  • Voluntary

  • Non-governmental

  • Peer review by HE community

  • Continuous

  • It is not “ranking” or quality comparison.


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1.2. There is no national body that oversees education or accreditation.

  • Accreditation is NOT governmental.

  • “The Higher Education Act” is a federal law that can affect accreditation.

  • The States can and do make laws about education. The laws vary widely from State to State.


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1.3. Accreditation is governed by standards of good practice.

  • Standards of quality assurance are set by the HE community itself, through accrediting associations.

  • Accreditation is a sign that

    • minimum standards have been met and

    • the institution is committed to continuous improvement.


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2.1. Scope of Accreditation

  • INSTITUTIONAL

    • The institution as a whole entity

  • PROGRAM or PROFESSIONAL

    • Specific programs of study or curricula


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2.2. Approval of accreditation bodies

  • Two organizations review accrediting associations for “approval”

    1. U.S. Department of Education – government agency

    2. Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) – private, non-governmental association of HEI’s


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U.S. Department of Education

  • Implements government education policies - supervises federal programs in education

  • Awards federal money to eligible students and institutions

  • Supports institutions of all types – academic, technical, vocational, career, computer schools, job training, etc.


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U.S. Department of Education

  • does not “accredit” institutions directly.

  • approval is nota sign of quality assurance. It only means that the institution is approved to participate in government education programs.


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Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)

  • Membership organization for HEI’s – over 3000 members

  • Develops quality assurance standards for accrediting bodies

  • Approves accreditors that meet its criteria


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CHEA – http://www.chea.org

  • Criteria for approval of an accrediting association – it must be committed to:

    • Support and advance academic quality

    • Accountability

    • Purposeful change and improvement

    • Appropriate, fair decision-making

    • Continuous re-assessment


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2.3. BOGUS or FAKE Accreditation Services

  • They do exist!

  • “Accreditation” for a fee – no quality standards or review

  • Some tied to “diploma mills” – fake “universities” create their own fake “accreditors” to look legitimate

  • See “Resources” – CHEA Web site


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New Book Announcement!

  • DEGREE MILLS by Allen Ezell and John Bear, Prometheus Books, January 2005

  • www.prometheusbooks.com

  • Includes info on bogus accreditation agencies


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REGIONAL ACCREDITATION

  • Institutional accreditation

  • Mutual recognition

    • Regionally-accredited institutions recognize degrees and credits from other regionally-accredited institutions.


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REGIONAL ACCREDITATION

  • Private, non-governmental, non-profit

  • Six accrediting associations organized by geographic regions of the U.S.

  • May also accredit institutions outside of the U.S.

  • All levels of education – elementary through postsecondary


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REGIONAL ACCREDITATION

The Six Regional Accreditors:

  • Middle States

  • New England

  • North Central

  • Northwest

  • Southern

  • Western



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3.1. Common Standards for REGIONAL ACCREDITATION

  • The institution must have

    • A stated, appropriate mission and purpose

    • Stated goals based on the mission

    • Functioning systems and resources -

      fiscal + organizational + academic

    • System of continuous evaluation of progress and planning for future


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3.2. Steps in the Regional Accreditation Process

Step 1: Self-study report based on accreditation criteria

Step 2: Review of self-study by team

Step 3: Site visit by team

Step 4: Review of recommendations and follow-up

Step 5: Accreditor’s decision

Step 6: Ongoing process (5 to 10 years)


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3.2.5. Accreditation Organization’s Status Decision

  • Candidate – in the application stage; working toward initial accreditation

  • Approval or re-affirmation

  • Probation – a chance to fix or change problem areas, within a certain time limit

  • Denial or revocation


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3.3. The Importance of Regional Accreditation

  • The most widely-recognized type of institutional accreditation for academic postsecondary education

    • Recognition of degree and credits

    • Government funding of institutions and students

    • Public confidence in the authenticity of the academic experience


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3.3. The Importance of Regional Accreditation

  • Most regionally-accredited institutions will ONLY accept degrees and credits from other regionally-accredited institutions.


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4. National Accreditation

  • Institutional

  • For specialized or special-interest institutions – examples:

    • Religious, denominational

    • Distance education

    • Career training / technology

    • Health occupations

    • Cosmetology


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National Accreditation

  • “National” does NOT mean “governmental”

  • It is NOT synonymous with “regional” accreditation.


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National Accreditation

  • Regionally-accredited institutions generally will not accept degrees or credits from nationally-accredited institutions ….

    unless they are also regionally-accredited.

  • Few are.


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5. PROGRAM or PROFESSIONAL Accreditation

  • “Program”

  • “Professional”

  • “Specialized”

    • All refer to accreditation of specific programs of study or curricula.


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PROGRAM or PROFESSIONAL Accreditation

  • An institution that is accredited may also offer accredited programs.

    • Example 1: Alverno College

    • Example 2: Arizona State University



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6. Roles of Accreditation within the U.S.

  • Evaluation of an individual student’s background for:

    • Admission to postsecondary education

    • Admission to graduate study (master’s or doctorate level)

    • Transfer of credit

    • Academic eligibility (scholarships, athletic activity, research grants, internships, etc.)


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Roles of Accreditation within the U.S.

  • Eligibility for government financial assistance

    • Individuals for student financial aid

    • Educational institutions for government programs and funding


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Roles of Accreditationwithin the U.S.

Employment

  • For positions that require completion of an “accredited” program

  • For licensure or certification in certain professions


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7. Role of Accreditation in Foreign Credential Evaluation

Perspective from the U.S. Side

  • Thereis no “official recognition” process of foreign credentials in the U.S.

  • There is no body that makes “official recognition” or “exchange” agreements.

  • “Recognition” is based on acceptance of the credential by the party reviewing it.


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Role of Accreditation in Foreign Credential Evaluation

  • Leadership in good practice in foreign credential evaluation comes from

    • Professional associations (AACRAO, NAFSA)

    • Council on the Evaluation of Foreign Educational Credentials

    • Reputable private credential evaluation organizations

    • Leaders in higher education institutions


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Role of Accreditation in Foreign Credential Evaluation

“Officially recognized”

in other countries

is comparable to

“accredited”

in the U.S.


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Resources

  • CHEA Web site – www.chea.org

  • Web sites of the Regional accrediting associations

    • Very EASY to verify an institution’s accreditation status with the regional accreditor

      • Online directory

      • Phone or fax


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Additional Resources

  • Bears’ Guides – Ten Speed Press

  • Degree Mills by Allen Ezell and John Bear (expected in Jan. 2005)

  • The “accreditation officer” at each regionally-accredited institution


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