What is Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation?
While many academic agencies accredit particular programs of study (education, nursing, social work, etc.), the Higher Learning Commission is one of five regional accrediting bodies that act as “gatekeepers” for the federal government to assure the quality and effectiveness of all institutions receiving Title IV financial aid funding. Specifically, these regional accreditors ensure that colleges and universities meet certain standards regarding fulfillment of their missions, effective operations, quality teaching and learning, student success, and sufficient resources.
Why is HLC accreditation important for UA Little Rock?
HLC accreditation offers UA Little Rock the opportunity to demonstrate to the public that it operates with quality, integrity, sound planning and budgeting, and self-assessment for continuous improvement.
Accreditation ensures that colleges and universities deliver high-quality educational programs. Additionally, only accredited institutions are eligible to receive federal funds for higher education, including student financial aid and research funds. Accreditation also gives students the ability to transfer credits between accredited schools, and some graduate schools only accept students who graduated from accredited schools.
What does HLC look for when it accredits colleges and universities?
The HLC has established a set of five criteria for review:
Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support
Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness
The university’s Assurance Argument demonstrates how it meets these criteria through linked evidence files. The HLC Peer Review Team will evaluate each of the criteria in the Assurance Argument for its evidence and determine whether the criteria is fully met, met with concerns or not met. If any of the criteria are met with concern or not met, additional reporting may be required.
When was UA Little Rock’s last institutional accreditation visit?
The North Central Association last accredited UA Little Rock on April 29, 2010.
When will the HLC accreditation visit take place?
The campus visit will take place Feb. 24-25, 2020.
What will the site visit look like?
Before arriving on campus, the Peer Review Team will review UA Little Rock’s Assurance Argument, Federal Compliance Report, Quality Initiative, and other documentation. Once on campus, team members will hold a variety of meetings with individuals, committees, and other groups. There will also be opportunities for the campus community at large to participate.
Who will be on the HLC team?
The campus will be visited by a Peer Review Team of trained consultants, composed of administrators, faculty, and staff who have been accepted to the Peer Review Corps by the HLC.
How will the findings be reported?
The HLC peer review team will write a report that addresses the criteria and core components for accreditation and send a draft to the campus a few weeks after the visit. The team will note the components that have been met, any that have not been, and any qualifications or concerns regarding them. After receiving the draft, the chancellor will have a chance to correct factual errors, and the final report will be submitted to the HLC. At that point, the report will be submitted to the HLC’s Institutional Actions Council for review.
What is the Open Pathway?
All higher education institutions accredited by the HLC must undergo a periodic comprehensive evaluation and must meet the HLC Criteria for Accreditation. However, each institution follows one of three pathways to reaccreditation as set out by the HLC.
UA Little Rock will use the Open Pathway for its 2020 HLC Accreditation Review. The Open Pathway is a 10-year cycle that includes the submission of the Assurance Argument at a year-four review. The Open Pathway also requires the institution to conduct a Quality Initiative in years five through nine of the cycle.
What are some important dates in the accreditation process?
Public Comment Period – July 2019
Complete Quality Initiative Report – Aug. 31, 2019
Mock Site Visit by Peer Reviewers – August 2019
Lock in Federal Compliance Report – Dec. 27, 2019
Lock in Assurance Argument – Jan. 27, 2020
Site Visit – Feb. 24-25, 2020
How can I get involved?
UA Little Rock will be providing more information about the accreditation process and how the campus community can get involved through upcoming events and communication. Become familiar with UA Little Rock’s mission and vision statements, and consider how they impact your responsibilities and experiences at the university. That way you will be prepared to discuss UA Little Rock’s mission and vision with members of the accreditation review team should you have the opportunity to interact with the team members during the site visit.