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SACSCOC Accreditation

When accreditation is awarded to an institution of higher education by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), a regional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education, it means that the institution has (1) a mission appropriate to higher education, (2) resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain its mission, (3) clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers, and that it is (4) successful in assessing its achievement of these objectives and demonstrating improvements.  Accreditation by SACSCOC is a statement of the institution’s continuing commitment to integrity and its capacity to provide effective programs and services based on agreed-upon accreditation standards.

IRSC Substantive Change (SubC) Policy

Substantive change is a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution.  The types of substantive change and the procedures for addressing them appropriately may be found in Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions.

  • Some changes, such as offering courses on-line that amount to less than 25% of the coursework needed to complete a degree, certificate or diploma, do not need to be reported to the Commission.
  • Others, such as offering (for the first time) 25% to 49% of the coursework required for a program on-line, simply require that the Commission be notified in advance of the implementation of the change.  The letter of notification should include the name of the actual change, implementation date, street address if it involves a new site, and the credential being offered.
  • Larger scale changes, such as adding significantly different programs to the academic curriculum or offering a majority of the coursework needed to complete a degree, certificate or diploma on-line, may require written notification as well as advance approval of aprospectus; see the Substantive Change ;policy for details on due dates and on the content of the prospectus.
  • Institutions seeking to offer coursework at a more advanced level than that for which they are currently approved must submit an application for level change. See the Substantive Change policy for due dates.

Prospectuses and applications for level change should include a Faculty Roster Faculty Roster Instructions), presenting the qualifications of each faculty member in the program to teach the courses they are assigned.

It is expected that the CEO or a designated representative of an institution will notify the Commission President of substantive changes at that institution.  Every institution has an Accreditation Liaison whose charge is to ensure compliance with accreditation requirements.  The Accreditation Liaison should take the time to become familiar with the Commissions policies and procedures, ensure that substantive changes are recognized and reported in a timely fashion, and consult with the institution’s SACSCOC staff member about any questions.

Certain types of substantive changes, such as adding branch campuses, level changes, mergers/consolidations, and changes in governance require a visit by a substantive change committee to determine continued compliance with the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement. When a committee visit has been authorized by the President of the Commission, the institution will be asked to provide documentation of the impact of the change on selected requirements in the Principles of Accreditation.

http://www.sacscoc.org/pdf/081705/SubstantiveChange.pdf

Frequently Asked Questions—Reaffirmation (SACSCOC and Accreditation)

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices among the diverse institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Latin America and other international sites approved by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, or doctoral degrees. The Commission also accepts applications from other international institutions of higher education.

Accreditation is intended to assure constituents and the public of the quality and integrity of higher education institutions and programs, and to help those institutions and programs improve. These outcomes are achieved through rigorous internal and external review processes during which the institution is evaluated against a common set of standards.

When accreditation is awarded to an institution of higher education by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), a regional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education, it means that the institution has (1) a mission appropriate to higher education, (2) resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain its mission, (3) clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers, and that it is (4) successful in assessing its achievement of these objectives and demonstrating improvements.  Accreditation by SACSCOC is a statement of the institution’s continuing commitment to integrity and its capacity to provide effective programs and services based on agreed-upon accreditation standards.

SACSCOC accredits degree-granting higher education institutions and entities based on requirements in The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement. These requirements apply to all institutional programs and services, wherever located or however delivered. This includes programs offered through distance and correspondence education, off-campus sites, and branch campuses. Consequently, when preparing documents for the Commission demonstrating compliance with the Principles of Accreditation, an institution must include these programs in its “Institutional Summary Form Prepared for Commission Reviews” and address these programs in its analysis and documentation of compliance (See Commission policy Distance and Correspondence Education). SACSCOC applies the requirements of its Principles to all applicant, candidate, and member institutions, regardless of the type of institution: private, for-profit, private not-for-profit, or public. The SACSCOC Board of Trustees evaluates an institution and makes accreditation decisions based on the current edition of the Principles of Accreditation. The Commission’s philosophy of accreditation precludes denial of membership to a degree-granting institution of higher education on any ground other than an 8 institution’s failure to meet the above requirements in the professional judgment of peer reviewers, or failure to comply with the policies and procedures of SACSCOC.

The Fifth-Year Interim Report Process

The Fifth‐Year Interim Report was developed to respond to the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements (1) that accrediting bodies continuously monitor institutions to ensure compliance and (2) that accrediting bodies have a mechanism for reviewing multiple sites initiated since last reaffirmation.

Components of the Report

  1. Signature Attesting to Integrity
  2. Institutional Summary Form
  3. Fifth‐Year Compliance Certification
  4. Fifth‐Year Follow Up Report (as requested by the Board of Trustees)
  5. QEP Impact Report • Review of off‐campus instructional sites initiated since last reaffirmation but not reviewed by a committee.

IRSC will submit the Fifth Year Interim Report in September 2019. Refer to The Fifth-Year Interim Report Review Process: An Overview for more information.

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