Indiana University Southeast is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (previously known to our campus as North Central), and will undergo accreditation review during the 2019-20 academic year. Because preparing for accreditation review is not like cramming for a final exam, the university has committed itself to a continuing cycle of self-review, as well as to the transparency that will allow each constituent will be as aware of the process as they wish to be.
What is Accreditation
There is continuing conversation about what accreditation ought and should be, as well as the constituents it serves; however, at its most basic level, the process of accreditation is about both “quality assurance and quality improvement” (Eaton, 2012, p. 9)i While accreditation has been undertaken for many years, certain aspects of it have changed since the 1965 passage of the first Higher Education Act (HEA). Title IV of the 1965 HEA established postsecondary financial aid programs for students, including Pell grants and federally guaranteed student loans (Suskie, 2015, p. 16).ii
Title IV has assisted many students in earning their postsecondary education, and has allowed colleges and universities to enroll and serve students who might not otherwise be able to attend. With the implementation of Title IV, accreditors became gatekeepers for the Department of Education, tasked with assuring that federal rules regarding such things as student access, student privacy, and fairness in admission and other standards (to name a few specifics) are being followed at individual institutions. Breach of these rules can result in the loss of accreditation, which, among other things, results in the loss of ability to administer federal financial aid. A great many institutions would need to close their doors, should they be unable to offer federal financial aid to students.
In this context, accreditation serves both idealistic and practical purposes. Idealistically, we want to know what we are doing well, and to determine how we might do better still, on behalf of our students’ education. At a more practical level, we seek to substantiate the fact that we are deserving of the ability to continue to administer the federal financial aid that our students need. Our accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) seeks to unify these overlapping needs, and in so doing requires that individual institutions provide evidence that we are fulfilling our responsibilities.
i Eaton, J. (2012). An Overview of U.S. accreditation. Washington, DC: Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
ii Suskie, L. (2015) Five Dimensions of Quality: A Common Sense Guide to Accreditation and Accountability. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Please email IUSEHLC@ius.edu to contact the IU Southeast Accreditation team.