Transfer of Credit Practices - Defy Student, Public Interest.
September 30, 2010
Editor, USA Today
Your recent story about career colleges gives an oversimplified view of the complex issues surrounding college accreditation and the differences between national and regional accrediting agencies. The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) and other national agencies that accredit degree-granting colleges maintain and enforce standards that are virtually identical to regional accreditation standards. ACICS, the largest of the national accrediting agencies for predominantly degree granting colleges, accredits more than 835 institutions of higher learning. The national and regional agencies are equally recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), and ACICS and the regional agencies are also recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), an association of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities. While your article claims that regional accreditation is considered most rigorous and prestigious, neither DOE nor CHEA subscribe to that belief. They should know; they make in-depth, multi-month reviews of all recognized accreditors every five years, and those that fall below standards lose their authority.
Many career colleges are nationally accredited and offer degree programs that provide the same curricula as their regionally accredited counterparts, taught by faculty with the same credentials and using the same textbooks in a facility with the same (or even better) resources. Yet some regionally accredited institutions will not accept transfer credits from a nationally accredited institution. This is contrary to the student and public interest. These institutions should be required to justify this policy on the basis of objective data and analysis. CHEA and the regional agencies have stated that transfer-credit decisions should not be based solely on the source of the sending college’s accreditation.
What is clear is that these arbitrary transfer rules amount to a waste of taxpayer money and discriminate against students who have performed admirably at nationally accredited colleges. It is quite possible that the student mentioned in your story whose credits from her for profit school would not transfer to a regional accredited institution was well served by her college, but poorly served by the university that arbitrarily refused to accept transfer of academic credit.
Students who attend nationally accredited career colleges are investing their time, money, and sweat to obtain an education and credentials that will allow them to enter the workforce in their field of choice. Perpetuating the myth that regional accreditation is somehow superior to national accreditation diminishes the value of their education, and makes them victims of arbitrary, unfair practices. The regional accreditors, DOE, CHEA, and most importantly the facts don’t support this myth. We appreciate the opportunity to clear the air on this matter.
Dr. Albert C. Gray
Executive Director and CEO