The New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc., one of six regional accrediting bodies in the United States, is a voluntary, non-profit, self-governing organization having as its primary purpose the accreditation of educational institutions. Through its evaluation activities, carriedout by six commissions, the Association provides public assurance about the educational quality of those schools and colleges that seek or wish to maintain membership, which is synonymous with accreditation.
Institutions of higher learning achieve accreditation from the New England Association through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education by demonstrating they meet the Commission's Standards for Accreditation and comply with its policies. The Standards for Accreditation establish criteria for institutional quality. In addition, the Commission adoptspolicies that elucidate the Standards and relate to their application. Moreover, the Commission expects affiliated institutions to work toward improving their quality, increasing their effectiveness, and continually striving toward excellence. Its evaluative processes are designed to encourage such improvement.
Each of the eleven Standards articulates a dimension of institutional quality. In applying the Standards, the Commission assesses and makes a determination about the effectiveness of the institution as a whole. The institution that meets the Standards:
The Commission recognizes that some aspects of an institution are always stronger than others. Meeting the Standards does not guarantee the quality of individual programs, courses, orgraduates, but serious weaknesses in a particular area may threaten the institution's accreditation.
The Commission deals with institutional differences in ways designed to protect both educational quality and individual philosophy and practice. The Standards are essentiallyqualitative criteria that measure the institution's current state of educational effectiveness. Theyallow the Commission to appraise a wide variety of collegiate institutions, differing in purpose, size, organization, scope of program, clientele served, support, and control. By design, the Standards as explicated do not preclude perceptive and imaginative innovation aimed atincreasing the effectiveness of higher education.
Institutions whose policies, practices, or resources differ significantly from those described in the Standards for Accreditation must present evidence that these are appropriate to highereducation, consistent with institutional mission and purposes, and effective in meeting the intent of the Commission's Standards. The existence of collective bargaining agreements, in and of themselves, does not abrogate institutional or faculty obligations to comply with the Standardsfor Accreditation.
Self-regulation is an essential element in the success of accreditation. Thus, the Standards forAccreditation were developed through a lengthy participatory process involving the membership in articulating the dimensions of quality required of institutions of higher education deserving of the public trust. Indeed the public as well was invited to participate in this process in recognition of the importance of higher education to the individual and collective well being of our citizenry and for our economy. Thus, the Standards represent the accrued wisdom of over 200 collegesand universities and interested others about the essential elements of institutional quality, and they offer a perspective that stresses the public purposes of higher education. The Commission continually evaluates the effectiveness of its Standards and its processes for applying them, and makes such changes as conditions warrant.
Self-regulation obliges institutions to adhere to the Standards as a condition of their accreditedstatus; accredited colleges and universities demonstrate their integrity through their continued voluntary compliance to these criteria. Adherence to the Standards is periodically reviewedthrough peer evaluations that are preceded by self-studies directed toward demonstrating thatthe institution meets the Standards and that it has effective means to ensure institutional improvement. This system of accreditation is based on institutions agreeing to participate in and to accept and profit by an honest and forthright assessment of institutional strengths and weaknesses.
Each of the eleven dimensions of institutional quality has a Statement of the Standard set forth in bold type. The considerations in determining the fulfillment of the Standard are articulated innumbered paragraphs below the Statement of the Standard, including in each case a final paragraph directing the institution’s attention toward institutional effectiveness; theseconsiderations provide a basis for institutions to undertake self study as well as a basis for institutional evaluation by visiting teams and the Commission. Because the eleven Standards represent dimensions of institutional quality, they are necessarily inter-related. Thus, considerations found in one Standard may also have application for another; for example, while there is a Standard on Integrity, considerations related to integrity may also be found in severalof the other Standards.
Additional information about accreditation and the Commission may be found at its website http://www.neasc.org/cihe/cihe.htm.
The institution’s mission and purposes are appropriate to higher education, consistent with itscharter or other operating authority, and implemented in a manner that complies with the Standards of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. The institution’s mission gives direction to its activities and provides a basis for the assessment and enhancement of the institution’s effectiveness.
The institution undertakes planning and evaluation appropriate to its needs to accomplishand improve the achievement of its mission and purposes. It identifies its planning and evaluation priorities and pursues them effectively.
The institution has a system of governance that facilitates the accomplishment of its mission and purposes and supports institutional effectiveness and integrity. Through its organizational design and governance structure, the institution creates and sustains an environment that encourages teaching, learning, service, scholarship, and where appropriate research and creative activity. It assures provision of support adequate for the appropriate functioning of each organizational component.
The institution’s academic programs are consistent with and serve to fulfill its mission and purposes. The institution works systematically and effectively to plan, provide, oversee,evaluate, improve, and assure the academic quality and integrity of its academic programs andthe credits and degrees awarded. The institution develops the systematic means to understand how and what students are learning and to use the evidence obtained to improve the academic program.
The institution develops a faculty that is suited to the fulfillment of the institution’s mission. Faculty qualifications, numbers, and performance are sufficient to accomplish the institution's mission and purposes. Faculty competently offer the institution's academic programs and fulfill those tasks appropriately assigned them.
Consistent with its mission, the institution defines the characteristics of the students it seeks to serve and provides an environment that fosters the intellectual and personal development of its students. It recruits, admits, enrolls, and endeavors to ensure the success of its students, offering the resources and services that provide them the opportunity to achieve the goals of their program as specified in institutional publications. The institution’s interactions with students and prospective students are characterized by integrity.
——————————————————————————– Page 22 Students are separately determined for any group that the institution specifically recruits, andthose rates are used in evaluating the success of specialized recruitment and the servicesand opportunities provided for the recruited students. Student Services 6.7The institution systematically identifies the characteristics and learning needs of its student population and then makes provision for responding to them. The institution’s student services are guided by a philosophy that reflects the institution’s mission and special character, is circulated widely and reviewed periodically, and provides the basis on which services to students can be evaluated. 6.8The institution offers an array of student services appropriate to its mission and the needs and goals of its students. The Commission recognizes the variations in services thatare appropriate at branch campuses, remote instructional locations, and for programs delivered electronically. The Commission also recognizes the differences in circumstances and goals of students pursuing degrees. In all cases, the institution provides academic support services appropriate to the student body, takes reasonable steps to ensure the safety of students while on campus or at another physical instructional location, and provides available and responsive information resources and services, information technology, academic advising and career services and complaint and appeal mechanisms. It assists students to resolve educational and technological problems in using institutional software. Where appropriate, it assists students regarding their personal and physical problems. In providing services, in accordance with its mission and purposes, the institution adheres to both the spirit and intent of equal opportunity and its own goals for diversity. 6.9Institutions with full time or residential student bodies provide an array of services thatincludes access to health services and co-curricular activities consistent with the mission of the institution. 6.10A clear description of the nature, extent, and availability of student services is easilyavailable to students and prospective students. Newly enrolled students are provided with an orientation that includes information on student services as well as a focus onacademic opportunities, expectations, and support services. 6.11Student financial aid is provided through a well-organized program. Awards are based on the equitable application of clear and publicized criteria. 6.12As appropriate, the institution supports opportunities for student leadership and participation in campus organizations and governance. 6.13If the institution offers recreational and athletic programs, they are conducted in a manner consistent with sound educational policy, standards of integrity, and the institution's purposes. The institution has responsibility for the control of these programs, including their financial aspects. Educational programs and academic expectations are the same for student athletes as for other students. 6.14The institution ensures that individuals responsible for student services are qualified byformal training and work experience to represent and address the needs of students effectively. Facilities, technology, and funding are adequate to implement the institution's student service policies and procedures. 18
Page 23 Students 6.15The institution has identified, published widely, and implemented an appropriate set ofclearly stated ethical standards to guide student services. Policies on student rights andresponsibilities, including grievance procedures, are clearly stated, well publicized and readily available, and fairly and consistently administered. 6.16The institution has policies regarding the kinds of information that will be included inthe permanent record of students as well as policies regarding the retention, safety andsecurity, and disposal of records. Its information-release policies respect the rights of individual privacy, the confidentiality of records, and the best interests of students andthe institution. 6.17Institutions with stated goals for students’ co-curricular learning systematically assess their achievement. Institutional Effectiveness 6.18Through a program of regular and systematic evaluation, the institution assesses itseffectiveness in admitting and retaining students and the appropriateness and effectiveness of its student services to advance institutional purposes. Information obtained through this evaluation is used to revise these goals and services and improve their achievement. 19
Page 24 Library and Other Information Resources Standard Seven Library and Other Information Resources The institution demonstrates sufficient and appropriate information resources and servicesand instructional and information technology and utilizes them to support the fulfillment ofits mission. 7.1The institution articulates a clear vision of the level and breadth of information resources and services and of instructional and information technology appropriate to support its academic mission and its administrative functions. Through strategic, operational, and financial planning, it works to achieve that vision. 7.2Institutional planning and resource allocation support the development of library, information resources and technology appropriate to the institution’s mission and academic program. The institution provides sufficient and consistent financial supportfor the library and the effective maintenance and improvement of the institution’s information resources and instructional and information technology. 7.3The institution uses instructional technology appropriate to its academic mission and the modes of delivery of its academic program. 7.4 Professionally qualified and numerically adequate staff administer the institution’s library, information resources and services, and instructional and information technologysupport functions.7.5Faculty, staff, and students are provided appropriate training and support to make effective use of library and information resources, and instructional and information technology. 7.6The institution establishes and applies clear policies and procedures and monitors and responds to illegal or inappropriate uses of its technology systems and resources.7.7Through ownership or guaranteed access, the institution makes available the library andinformation resources necessary for the fulfillment of its mission and purposes. These resources are sufficient in quality, level, diversity, quantity, and currency to support and enrich the institution’s academic offerings. They support the academic and research program and the intellectual and cultural development of students, faculty, and staff. 7.8The institution demonstrates that students use information resources and technology asan integral part of their education, attaining levels of proficiency appropriate to their degree and subject or professional field of study. The institution ensures that students have available and are appropriately directed to sources of information appropriate tosupport and enrich their academic work, and that throughout their program students gain increasingly sophisticated skills in evaluating the quality of information sources.(See also 4.6) 7.9The institution ensures appropriate access to library and information resources and services for all students regardless of program location or mode of delivery. 7.10The institution’s physical and electronic environments provide an atmosphere conduciveto study and research. 20
Page 25 Library and Other Information Resources 7.11The institution uses information technology sufficient to ensure its efficient ability toplan, administer, and evaluate its program and services. Institutional Effectiveness 7.12The institution regularly and systematically evaluates the adequacy, utilization, and impact of its library, information resources and services, and instructional and information technology and uses the findings to improve and increase the effectiveness of these services. 21
Page 26 Physical and Technological ResourcesStandard Eight Physical and Technological Resources The institution has sufficient and appropriate physical and technological resources necessary for the achievement of its purposes. It manages and maintains these resources in a manner to sustain and enhance the realization of institutional purposes. 8.1The institution’s physical and technological resources, including classrooms, laboratories, network infrastructure, materials, equipment, and buildings and grounds, whether owned or rented, are commensurate with institutional purposes. They are designed, maintained, and managed at both on- and off-campus sites in a manner that servesinstitutional needs. Proper management, maintenance, and operation of all physicalfacilities, including student housing provided by the institution, are accomplished by adequate and competent staffing. 8.2Classrooms and other facilities are appropriately equipped and adequate in capacity.Classrooms and other teaching spaces support teaching methods appropriate to the discipline. Students and faculty have access to appropriate physical, technological, and educational resources to support teaching and learning. (See also 5.16) 8.3 Facilities are constructed and maintained in accordance with legal requirements to ensure access, safety, security, and a healthful environment with consideration for environmental and ecological concerns. 8.4The institution undertakes physical resource planning linked to academic and studentservices, support functions, and financial planning. It determines the adequacy of existing physical and technological resources and identifies and plans the specified resolution of deferred maintenance needs. Space planning occurs on a regular basis as part of physical resource evaluation and planning, and is consistent with the mission and purposes of the institution.8.5The institution demonstrates the effectiveness of its policies and procedures in ensuring the reliability of the systems, the integrity and security of data, and the privacy ofindividuals. Institutional Effectiveness 8.6The institution’s ongoing evaluation of its physical and technological resources in light of its mission, current needs and plans for the future is a basis of realistic planning andbudget allocation. 22
Page 27 Financial Resources Standard Nine Financial Resources The institution's financial resources are sufficient to sustain the achievement of its educational objectives and to further institutional improvement now and in the foreseeable future. The institution demonstrates through verifiable internal and external factors its financial capacityto graduate its entering class. The institution administers its financial resources withintegrity. 9.1The institution preserves and enhances available financial resources sufficient to supportits academic and other activities. It manages its financial resources and allocates them in a way that reflects its mission and purposes. It demonstrates the ability to respond tofinancial emergencies and unforeseen circumstances. 9.2The institution is financially stable. Ostensible financial stability is not achieved at the expense of educational quality. Its stability and viability are not unduly dependent upon vulnerable financial resources or an historically narrow base of support. The institution's governing board retains appropriate autonomy in all budget and finance matters; thisincludes institutions that depend on financial support from an external agency (state, church, or other private or public entity). 9.3The institution’s multi-year financial planning is realistic and reflects the capacity of the institution to depend on identified sources of revenue and ensure the advancement of educational quality and services for students. The governing board reviews and approves the institution’s financial plans.9.4All or substantially all of the institution's revenue is devoted to the support of itsacademic purposes and programs. The institution's financial records clearly relate to its educational activities. 9.5The institution and its governing board regularly and systematically review the effectiveness of the institution’s financial aid policy and practices in advancing the institution’s mission and helping to ensure that the institution enrolls and supports the student body it seeks to serve. 9.6The institution ensures the integrity of its finances through prudent financial management and organization, a well-organized budget process, appropriate internalcontrol mechanisms, risk assessment, and timely financial reporting, providing a basis for sound financial decision-making.9.7The institution establishes and implements its budget after appropriate consultation withrelevant constituencies in accord with realistic overall planning that provides for the appropriate integration of academic, student service, fiscal, development, information andtechnology and physical resource priorities to advance its educational objectives. 9.8The institution’s financial planning, including contingency planning, is integrated withoverall planning and evaluation processes. The institution demonstrates its ability toanalyze its financial condition and understand the opportunities and constraints that will influence its financial condition and acts accordingly. It reallocates resources asnecessary to achieve its purposes and objectives. The institution implements a realistic plan for addressing issues raised by the existence of any operating deficit. 23
Page 28 Financial Resources 9.9Opportunities identified for new sources of revenue are reviewed by the administration and board to ensure the integrity of the institution and the quality of the academic program are maintained and enhanced. The institution planning a substantive change demonstrates the financial capacity to ensure that the new initiative meets the standards of quality of the institution and the Commission’s Standards. 9.10Institutional and board leadership ensure the institution’s ethical oversight of its financial resources and practices. 9.11The institution’s financial resources and transactions are audited annually by an external auditor in accord with the generally accepted auditing standards for colleges and universities as adopted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Board policies and institutional practices ensure the independence and objectivity of the auditor and the appropriate consideration of the audit by the governing board. For public and independent institutions part of a larger system or corporation, the audit provides sufficient information about the institution’s finances to support a determination regarding the sufficiency and stability of the institution’s financial resources. In all cases, the audit and management letter are appropriately reviewed by the institution's administration and governing board who take appropriate action on resulting recommendations or conclusions. 9.12The institution directs its fund-raising efforts toward the fulfillment of institutionalpurposes and conducts them in accordance with clear and complete policies that stipulate the conditions and terms under which gifts are solicited and accepted. The institution accurately represents itself and its capacities and needs to prospective donors andaccurately portrays the impact that their gifts can reasonably be expected to have. Gifts arepromptly directed toward donors' intentions. 9.13All fiscal policies, including those related to budgeting, investments, insurance, riskmanagement, contracts and grants, transfers and inter-fund borrowing, fund-raising, andother institutional advancement and development activities, are clearly stated in writing and consistently implemented in compliance with ethical and sound financial practices.Institutional Effectiveness 9.14The institution has in place appropriate internal and external mechanisms to evaluate its fiscal condition and financial management and to maintain its integrity. The institution uses the results of these activities for improvement. 24
Page 29 Public Disclosure Standard Ten Public Disclosure In presenting itself to students, prospective students, and other members of the interested public, the institution provides information that is complete, accurate, accessible, clear andsufficient for intended audiences to make informed decisions about the institution. 10.1The information published by the institution on its website is sufficient to allow studentsand prospective students to make informed decisions about their education. The institution’s website includes the information specified elsewhere in this Standard (10.2 –10.13). 10.2The institution informs the public of the information available about itself and how inquiries can be addressed. It is also responsive to reasonable requests for information about itself. The institution provides notice as to the availability upon request of itspublications and its most recent audited financial statement or a fair summary thereof. 10.3The institution’s current catalogue describes the institution consistent with its missionstatement and sets forth the obligations and responsibilities of both students and the institution. The catalogue or other authoritative publications present information relative to admission and attendance. Institutions relying on electronic catalogues ensure the availability of archival editions sufficient to serve the needs of alumni and former and returning students. 10.4All institutional publications, print and electronic, and communications are consistentwith catalogue content and accurately portray the conditions and opportunities available at the institution. 10.5The institution publishes its mission, objectives, and expected educational outcomes; requirements and procedures and policies related to admissions and the transfer ofcredit; student fees, charges and refund policies; rules and regulations for student conduct; other items related to attending or withdrawing from the institution; academic programs, courses currently offered, and other available educational opportunities; and academic policies and procedures and the requirements for degrees or other forms of academic recognition. 10.6The institution publishes a list of its current faculty, indicating departmental or programaffiliation, distinguishing between those who have full- and part-time status, showing degrees held and the institutions granting them. The names and positions ofadministrative officers, and the names and principal affiliations of members of the governing board are also included. 10.7The institution publishes the locations and programs available at branch campuses, other instructional locations, including those overseas operations at which students can enrollfor a degree, along with a description of the programs and services available at each location. 10.8The institution clearly indicates those programs, courses, services, and personnel notavailable during a given academic year. It does not list as current any courses not taught for two consecutive years that will not be taught during the third consecutive year. 25
Page 30 Public Disclosure 10.9The institution publishes a description of the size and characteristics of the student body, the campus setting, the availability of academic and other support services, the range of co-curricular and non-academic opportunities available to students; and those institutional learning and physical resources from which a student can reasonably be expected to benefit.10.10The institution publishes statements of its goals for students’ education and the success of students in achieving those goals. Information on student success includes rates of retention and graduation and other measures of student success appropriate to institutional mission. As appropriate, recent information on passage rates for licensure examinations is also published. 10.11The institution publishes information about the total cost of education, including the availability of financial aid and the typical length of study. The expected amount of student debt upon graduation is provided to help students and prospective students make informed decisions.10.12The institution has readily available valid documentation for any statements and promises regarding such matters as program excellence, learning outcomes, success in placement, and achievements of graduates or faculty. 10.13The institution's statements about its current accredited status are accurately and explicitly worded. An institution placed on probation by the New England Associationdiscloses this status in its catalogue and recruitment materials and in any other publication, print or electronic, in which the institution’s accreditation is mentioned, as well as the availability of additional information on its probationary status. Institutional Effectiveness10.14 Through a systematic process of periodic review, the institution ensures that its print andelectronic publications are complete, accurate, available, and current. The results of the review are used for improvement. 26
Page 31 Integrity Standard Eleven Integrity The institution subscribes to and advocates high ethical standards in the management of its affairs and in all of its dealings with students, faculty, staff, its governing board, external agencies and organizations, and the general public. Through its policies and practices, the institution endeavors to exemplify the values it articulates in its mission and related statements. 11.1The institution expects that members of its community, including the board,administration, faculty, staff, and students, will act responsibly and with integrity; and itsystematically provides support in the pursuit thereof. Institutional leadership fosters an atmosphere where issues of integrity can be openly considered, and members of the institutional community understand and assume their responsibilities in the pursuit of integrity.11.2Truthfulness, clarity, and fairness characterize the institution's relations with all internaland external constituencies. Adequate provision is made to ensure academic honesty. Appropriate policies and procedures are in effect and periodically reviewed for matters including intellectual property rights, the avoidance of conflict of interest, privacy rights, and fairness in dealing with students, faculty, and staff. The institution's educationalpolicies and procedures are applicable and equitably applied to all its students. 11.3The institution is committed to the free pursuit and dissemination of knowledge. Itassures faculty and students the freedom to teach and study a given field, to examine all pertinent data, to question assumptions, and to be guided by the evidence of scholarlyresearch. 11.4The institution observes the spirit as well as the letter of applicable legal requirements. Ithas a charter and/or other formal authority from the appropriate governmental agencyauthorizing it to grant all degrees it awards; it has the necessary operating authority for each jurisdiction in which it conducts activities; and it operates within this authority. 11.5The institution adheres to non-discriminatory policies and practices in recruitment, admissions, employment, evaluation, disciplinary action, and advancement. It fosters an atmosphere within the institutional community that respects and supports people ofdiverse characteristics and backgrounds. 11.6The institution manages its academic, research and service programs, administrative operations, responsibilities for students and interactions with prospective students withhonesty and integrity. 11.7The institution is responsible for conferences, institutes, workshops, or other instructional or enrichment activities that are sponsored by the institution or carry itsname. These activities are compatible with the institution’s purposes and are administered within its organizational structure. The institution assumes responsibility for the appropriateness and integrity of such activities. 11.8The institution has established and publicizes clear policies ensuring institutionalintegrity. Included among them are appropriate policies and procedures for the fair resolution of grievances brought by faculty, staff, or students. 27
Page 32 Integrity 28 11.9 In its relationships with the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, the institution demonstrates honesty and integrity, and it complies with the Commission's Standards, policies, Requirements of Affiliation, and requests. 11.10In addition to the considerations stated in this Standard, the institution adheres to those requirements related to institutional integrity embodied in all other Commission Standards.Institutional Effectiveness 11.11The pursuit of institutional integrity is strengthened through the application of findingsfrom periodic and episodic assessments of the policies and conditions that support the achievement of these aims among members of the institutional community.