Home News A Death Sentence for ACICS: Implications for Member Institutions

A Death Sentence for ACICS: Implications for Member Institutions


Today the U.S. Department of Education acted on the June, 2016 recommendations of internal staff and NACIQI (National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity) to withdraw recognition for the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).

Although I predicted this would be the outcome in my ACICS White Paper post, I had genuinely hoped that I would be wrong—not because the decision is indefensible, but because there were alternatives at the disposal of the Department of Education that would have offered better protection to the hundreds of thousands of students who currently attend ACICS accredited institutions.

As noted in the White Paper, there is no way logistically for all ACICS member schools to transition to another accreditor in the likely time available to them. Although ACICS will appeal, and while under appeal, the withdrawal of recognition will be stayed (temporarily suspended), the appeal will be considered by the same folks who already decided that ACICS did not merit time to address its alleged deficiencies. At best, an appeal will likely delay the ultimate outcome.

Lastly, while under appeal (ACICS has 10 days from today—9/22/16—to inform the DOE that they will appeal and 30 days to submit the formal appeal), current ACICS member institutions will maintain a variety of approvals and licenses that are conferred by “means of accreditation.” However, if the Department denies the appeal, ACICS institutions will no longer be accredited, even during the prescribed 18 month transition period, because their accreditor will no longer be recognized by the Department of Education. As such, approvals by means of accreditation will be at risk. Some states have already notified ACICS institutions that if ACICS loses recognition, their approval to operate will be revoked and that they will have to pursue a secondary track to approval for institutions that operate without accreditation.

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