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Accreditation FAQ

What is the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)?

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is an independent corporation that was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. The HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region of the United States.

What is HLC accreditation? Why is it important?

While many academic agencies accredit particular programs of study (education, nursing, social work, etc.), the Higher Learning Commission is responsible for assuring that colleges and universities meet certain standards regarding their missions, educational operations, scholarly and creative activities, community service, and ethics. Accreditation is an assurance to the public that an institution is properly prepared to do its job. Accreditation also is required in order to receive federal funds in higher education, including student financial aid.

What does HLC look for when it accredits colleges and universities?

The HLC has established a set of five criteria for review:
  1.  Mission
  2.  Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct
  3.  Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support
  4.  Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement
  5.  Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness

The University’s Assurance Argument demonstrates how it meets these criteria.

When will the HLC re-accreditation visit take place?

The campus visit will take place October 9-10, 2017.

Who will be on the HLC team?
The campus will be visited by a Peer Review Team of trained consultant, a team of administrators, faculty, and staff who have been accepted to the Peer Review Corps by the HLC.

What will the team do during the visit?

Before arriving on campus, the Peer Review team will review the University’s Assurance Argument, Federal Compliance Filing, Quality Initiative Report, Student Survey, past accreditation reports, as well as our website and other documents they might request.  During the visit, they will be seek to validate the content of the report and the data that support it.  In addition, they will raise concerns that need attention or issues that may confront the University in the future. Team members will hold a variety of meetings with individuals, committes, and other groups across the campus.  Several of these will be specific meetings, but there also will be several open meetings that anyone may attend.

How will the findings be reported?

The HLC 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 (IAC) for review.

What kinds of recommendations might the team make?

There are essentially three possible results:

  • The institution meets the criteria without concerns.
  • The institution meets the criterial for accreditation with concerns.
  • The institution does not meet the criteria for accreditation.
In the first case, UWGB would be set for the next 10-year review cycle.  In the second, UWGB would retain its accreditation status but would need to work on one or more areas for improvement and submit reports and other evidence that it is making progress to address the concerns.  In the third case, UWGB most likely would be put on probation.  While the institution would continue to operate, it would have significant work to do to reclaim its accreditation, and it is possible that it would not receive any federal funding.  The most likely result is the second; the HLC estimates that 85% of institutions are required to engage in some kind activity to improve their operations.

What do we hope to learn from this process?

We hope, above all, that the visit will confirm that UWGB is meeting its mission.  However, the accreditation process also is an opportunity for review and reflection.  The feedback we receive from the HLC should point out some areas where the institution is weak, and it should provide some guidance to deal with those issues.