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?
UA Little Rock Rock was recently reaffirmed for by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) through 2029-2030 academic year. HLC is a regional accrediting organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
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.
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 were 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.