Information Sheet on WSCUC Accreditation for USP Community
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.