Institutional accreditation is an assurance that an institution of higher education meets a series of quality standards. Accreditation standards require institutions to demonstrate that they adhere to good practices in higher education. Furthermore, accrediting agencies should be recognized by organizations such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the US Department of Education. An accrediting agency without this recognition may be seen as an “accreditation mill,” an agency that offers to award accreditation to programs or institutions without the rigor and high standards of the recognized accrediting agencies.
Program accreditation (also called specialized accreditation) is a type of accreditation that is focused on professional preparation programs within institutions of higher education (e.g., the Nursing program, the School of Business, etc.).
Each institution generally has the flexibility to define its administrative and support departments as it sees fit. A good starting point is to define administrative and support departments based on the institution’s organization chart. If you choose to define administrative and support departments differently than those shown on the organization chart, just be sure to have a good (and documented) rationale for doing so – your peer reviewers will probably ask about it during your reaccreditation process.
So, your institution has an upcoming reaffirmation of accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)? You’re in good company: the Higher Learning Commission is the largest regional accreditor in the United States, serving institutions in 19 states. Here are some tips to help you put your best foot forward and prepare for a successful reaffirmation.
There are many ways in which we can assess how well our programs are reaching their goals or outcomes. If we are trying to assess non-learning program outcomes, the method will depend on the outcome itself.
It was more than a decade ago that the field of higher education started to focus on assessment. Educators were asking questions about what, and how much, students were learning throughout their experiences in higher education. At first, just assessing student learning and tracking the results was yeoman’s work.
Developing or updating a strategic plan for an institution of higher education is a substantial endeavor. Engaging colleagues in committee and subcommittee meetings, discussing the future direction of the institution, and coming to a consensus on goals to guide the institution for the life of the plan: these considerations are at the heart of the collaborative process that is strategic planning in higher education.
In our last post, we talked about what the seven accreditation regions in the U.S. have in common in terms of their standards regarding institutional effectiveness. Now let’s talk about the differences in how the regions address institutional effectiveness.
I had the opportunity to present a webinar to the members of OCAIR (Overseas Chinese Association for Institutional Research, https://ocair.org/). The topic was “Institutional Effectiveness in Higher Education: A Nationwide Perspective”. In the webinar, I compared and contrasted how institutional effectiveness is discussed in the standards and principles of the seven regional accrediting agencies in the United States.
As a professional in a field that serves higher education institutions daily, few things are more evident than the wavering budget climate in higher education.
I hear it so often:
“There isn’t budget for something like this.” “The state is cutting our funding.” “Enrollment is down and tuition is frozen.”
In these situations, software guiding planning and accreditation are often not seen as priorities.
This leaves me wondering:
“Is THIS the place to make cuts when the chips are down?” “Don’t people realize the importance of these things?”
The answers to these questions are a resounding and conflicting “No.” and “No.”
But how can I say this with authority? Because I’ve been there, done that, and feel your pain.
Topics: Institutional Effectiveness