WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) Accreditation

Seeking Accreditation Visit 1

Seeking Accreditation Visit 1 (SAV1)

Dear Staff and Students,

The University will host the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) Seeking Accreditation Visit (SAV1) from 11 to 13 April, 2018.

The WSCUC Visit Team will meet with various groups of people including the Chair of Council, the Council Members, Members of the Senior Management Team, Associate Deans, Heads of Schools, Heads and Directors of Sections and Campuses, Academic and Academic Support Staff, Professional, and Intermediate & Junior Staff, and Students.

The SAV1 Schedule has been confirmed by the Visit Team and includes individual and group meetings and three open forums (see attached). Individual and group meeting invitations have been sent to various personnel. The three open forums will be conducted on Thursday, 12 April 2018 and details are as follows:

  • Open Forum 1: Open Forum with Academic and Academic Support Staff
    Time & Date:
    11.00am to 11.50am on Thursday, 12 April 2018

    Venue:
    Japan-Pacific ICT Multipurpose Theatre

    Target Audience:
    Academic Staff and Teaching Assistants; excluding Deans, Associate Deans & Head of Schools that are already meeting the Visit Team at other specified times

  • Open Forum 2: Open Forum with Non-Academic Staff
    Time & Date:
    11.00am to 11.50am on Thursday, 12 April 2018

    Venue:
    OCACPS Pavilion

    Target Audience:
    Professional and Intermediate & Junior Staff; excluding Heads of Sections that are already meeting the Visit Team at other specified times

  • Open Forum 3: Open Forum with All Interested Students
    Time & Date:
    12.00pm to 12.50pm on Thursday, 12 April 2018

    Venue:
    Japan-Pacific ICT Multipurpose Theatre

    Target Audience:
    All Interested Students; excluding USPSA representatives

I invite you to attend one of the forums relevant to you to meet and converse with the WSCUC Visit Team.

Additionally, as part of the Off-Campus Review (campuses that offer 50% or more of a degree programme), one of the SAV1 Team members (Dr. Leah Williams) will visit USP Emalus Campus (see attached) on 8 and 9 April.

Given the significance of WSCUC accreditation to USP, the Vice-Chancellor and President, Prof. Chandra, has encouraged everyone to participate.

All staff can access the WSCUC Institutional Report that was submitted to the Visit Team via the WSCUC website.

A video has been produced that gives an overview of: what WSCUC is; why the University is seeking accreditation from WSCUC; and what this involves.

Further details on WSCUC accreditation can be accessed from the USP WSCUC Accreditation website. Feel free to email on alo(at)usp.ac.fj should you need further details/clarification.

Sincerely,
 
Professor Richard K. Coll
Deputy Vice-Chancellor
(Learning, Teaching & Student Services)
The University of the South Pacific
Private Mail Bag, Laucala Campus
Suva, Fiji
Ph: +679 323 2053
Email: Richard.coll@usp.ac.fj
Skype: richard.kevin.coll

SAV1 Schedule

SAV1 Schedule

The Seeking Accreditation Visit 1 (SAV1) has been confirmed by the Visit Team and includes individual and group meetings and three open forums.

To view the SAV1 schedule, please click here.

Additionally, as part of the Off-Campus Review (campuses that offer 50% or more of a degree programme), one of the SAV1 Team members (Dr. Leah Williams) will visit USP Emalus Campus (see attached) on 8 and 9 April.

Institutional Report

Preparation for WSCUC Accreditation and the Write Up of the Institutional Report

The preparation for WSCUC accreditation and the write up of the Institutional Report was overseen by the USP WSCUC Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO), the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Learning, Teaching & Student Services, DVC LTSS), Professor Richard K. Coll.

After the submission of the Eligibility Application in June, 2015, a series of workshops was undertaken to promote awareness of the forthcoming accreditation process, especially with leaders of academic and non-academic sections at the Laucala Campus. The next step was the establishment of WSCUC Working Groups for each standard of accreditation. These Working Groups comprised members from different sections and campuses of the University depending on the focus of each standard and participants’ expertise. The Working Groups ensured engagement with a broad representation of the University academic staff/faculty and non-academic staff. The ALO and WSCUC Accreditation Project Coordinator (APC), Ms. Sujlesh Sharma, conducted awareness workshops at all USP regional campuses, except for two of the smaller campuses, Niue and Tokelau (4 EFTS & 59 EFTS, respectively in 2016). During the workshops, the ALO and APC acquainted staff, students, members of the Regional Campus Advisory Committees and other stakeholders with an overview of WSCUC accreditation, and the reasons the University was seeking WSCUC accreditation. The workshops also provided opportunity for regional campuses to identify issues that needed to be addressed in order for the University to be prepared for seeking accreditation. Additionally, the workshops sought to ensure that the Institutional Report accurately reflected the status of the regional campuses.

The ALO and the APC conducted regular meetings with each Working Group. At the outset, the Working Groups carried out a preliminary gap analysis using the Review under the WSCUC Standards and Compliance with Federal Requirements Worksheet. This high-level gap analysis facilitated an understanding of USPs status, its strengths, issues and areas needing further development in relation to each Standard and CFR. In conjunction with this, the Working Groups engaged with each CFR and reached a common understanding of the CFR, identified potential supporting evidence, agreed on the current status of the University with respect to each CFR, and identified action needed to address issues any areas needing further development under each CFR.

The WSCUC Vice-President, Dr. Maureen Maloney, visited the University from 11 to 14 October, 2016, and Professor Keith Roberts, a Fulbright Specialist, visited the University from 21 March to 29 April, 2017. Reports from the Working Groups, visits to regional campuses, and the visits from Dr. Maloney and Professor Roberts were used to inform the WSCUC Steering Committee (University Senior Management Team, SMT,) of the University’s readiness for seeking accreditation, and provide an action plan to address any issues identified, as well as inform the preparation of the Institutional Report. Progress was also regularly reported to the WSCUC Steering Committee, USP Committees such as Teaching Quality Committee (TQC), and the University Senate and Council, which ensured that a wide USP community was kept informed of the developments. These bodies and committees were also used as vehicles to expedite the addressing of identified issues and challenges. Staff members across the campuses were kept informed of the progress and alerted to their respective responsibilities through update meetings conducted by the ALO in Faculties/Colleges, and sections and in relevant contexts such as the Regional Campus Directors Forum and Student Council Meetings.

In November, 2017, the University conducted a Mock Seeking Accreditation Visit (SAV) in order to refine and enhance preparations for the SAV1.

All the above processes informed the preparation and write-up of the Institutional Report, which was submitted to WSCUC on 26 January, 2018, and is available to all staff either via the WSCUC Moodle shell or the WSCUC website.

SAV1 Team Bio and Roster

Accreditation Info Sheet

Information Sheet on WSCUC Accreditation for USP Community

The University, as stipulated in the Strategic Plan 2013-2018, has a major focus on quality.  It is seeking external validation and review of its programmes, and engages with the institutional academic quality audit carried out by the New Zealand Academic Audit Agency.  Additionally, as also signaled in the SP, is the University’s intention to gain accreditation from WSCUC.

What is WSCUC?: One of six USA-based regional accrediting bodies that conducts institution-wide accreditation. WSCUC focusses on the western region of the USA and on a limited number of international (i.e., outside the USA) accreditations.

Why is USP Seeking WSCUC Accreditation?: Accreditation verifies that the University has been rigorously evaluated across all of its operations, and found to meet or exceed clearly defined standards of quality. The accreditation process provides the University with the impetus and a framework for institutional stocktaking, review and continuous institutional improvement. Accreditation also allows students easier access to USA institutions for further studies, and provides USA students with confidence that USP is a premier institution of learning, which may increase international enrolments.

What are the stages of WSCUC Accreditation?: The University initially undergoes a Diagnostic Visit that reviews the University’s readiness to apply for Eligibility. If this proves successful, the institution is invited to apply formally for Eligibility. If the institution is granted Eligibility, it can proceed with an application for accreditation within two months of the granting of Eligibility. A determination of Eligibility is not a formal status with WSCUC, nor does it ensure eventual accreditation. It is a preliminary finding that the institution is potentially accreditable and can proceed within five years of its Eligibility determination to be reviewed for Candidacy or Initial Accreditation status with WSCUC.

WSCUC schedules a Seeking Accreditation Visit (SAV1) within 18 to 24 months of the date of granting of Eligibility. The University is required to indicate its intention to seek accreditation, via a 'Letter of Intent' (LOI), which needs to be submitted six months prior to SAV1.

How Does WSCUC Evaluate Institutions?: A minimum of 10 weeks before the SAV1, the University sends WSCUC the 'Institutional Report' (IR) , in which the institution makes its case for accreditation, by reference to four WSCUC 'Standards of Accreditation', and 39 Criteria For Review (CFR). For each CFR, the Institutional Report provides a narrative and evidence in order to demonstrate to the SAV1 Team that it meets all the WSCUC standards and CFR. During the SAV1, the Visit Team audits and triangulates the claims made in the Institutional Report. For example, if the IR states that all courses have some online presence on Moodle, the Team will check if this is true. Similarly, if the IR states there is a clear, well-established process for annual evaluation of staff performance, the Team will interview a range of staff members to see if this is true.

Outcomes of a Seeking Accreditation Visit: The outcomes of SAV1 will indicate if the University has been granted Initial Accreditation or Candidacy of if further visits are required. Initial Accreditation is granted if there is ‘substantial compliance’ with all standards/CFR (see below). If there is not substantial compliance but a ‘minimal compliance’ with all standards/CFR Candidacy is granted (see below). In this case, a second visit would normally be scheduled within eighteen to twenty-four months focused only on areas in which the visiting team has found only minimal or non-compliance and on other select areas identified by the WSCUC. If there is not minimal compliance with all standards/CFR, further visits focusing on areas of improvement, may be scheduled, but only if it is considered there is a realistic chance that substantial compliance may be achieved within 5 years of gaining Eligibility.

Substantial Compliance: The core concept or intention of the CFR is understood and articulated clearly as it applies to relevant operations; thorough and widespread implementation of structures, processes, and forms that operationalize the CFRs; understanding of concepts is held at multiple relevant organizational levels.

Minimal Compliance: Evidence of understanding the principles or intentions of each CFR at a sufficient level to support continued development; elementary or initial development of structures, processes and forms that operationalize the CFRs; understanding of concepts held by key leaders, but less well understood at all levels of the organization.

 

USPs Current Status in the WSCUC Accreditation Process

USP has gained Eligibility, submitted its Letter of Intent, submitted the Institutional Report, and will host a SAV1 at Emalus Campus on 8-9 April, 2018, and Laucala Campus on 11-13 April, 2018.

 

The Institutional Report can be accessed and downloaded here.


For a quick overview about the Journey to Seeking Accreditation Visit 1 (SAV1) at USP, please view this video.