Why Accreditation Matters in Higher Education

Why Accreditation Matters in Higher Education

Dr. Bill Path
Why Accreditation Matters in Higher Education

OSUIT is an accredited institution of higher education. Accreditation is a big deal for any college or university, and ours is up for renewal in the spring of 2020. In coming months, you will be hearing much more about the reaccreditation process, so I wanted to share a few of my thoughts today about accreditation—to explain what it is and why we have it.

For a college in the United States to be in “good standing” within the higher education community, it must first be accredited. Accreditation is the rigorous analysis of educational programs to verify they are of good quality and offered equally to all students within the institution. If a college is “accredited” this means a group of outside experts have carefully evaluated its overall operations and determined it complies with accepted standards within the higher education industry.

While there are many different types of accreditation, the “gold standard” is regional accreditation. Regional accreditation provides assurance to the general public that a college is legitimate and trustworthy and is genuinely awarding the degrees it claims to be awarding. There are six different regional accrediting bodies in the United States that are recognized by the US Department of Education, and all fifty states fall within the jurisdiction of one of these private accrediting bodies/associations. Oklahoma is within the north central region of the United States and is subject to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) for its regional accreditation. Overseeing 19 states, the HLC is the largest accrediting body in the nation. This means for a college in Oklahoma to be in “good standing,” it must have been granted regional accreditation through the HLC, and this is not an easy process.

For many decades, OSUIT has maintained regional accreditation as an institution in good standing with the HLC. Our accreditation is on a 10 year renewal cycle, and we are expecting a team of peer evaluators from the HLC to conduct a renewal site visit on our campus in March 2020. Led by Kevin Hulett, OSUIT administration, faculty, and staff have been preparing for this site visit for well over a year. They have been conducting a top-to-bottom analysis of our overall operations and documenting their findings in a report that will respond to five specific criteria established by the HLC. This report is intended to provide an assurance argument with supporting evidence that proves OSUIT meets or exceeds all HLC expectations for accreditation.

There are a lot of facilities and organizations in the United States that call themselves colleges or universities, but they are not all accredited. Just because a “college” exists, does not mean it adheres to accepted practices within higher education or offers quality educational programs. The rigorous process of regional accreditation is what makes a college a real college and one that is worthy of the public’s trust. We take regional accreditation very seriously at OSUIT, because it reflects our reputation as a credible institution of higher education.