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Assurance Review Process
HLC conducts an Assurance Review to determine whether an institution continues to meet the Criteria for Accreditation. On the Open Pathway, the Assurance Review is conducted by itself in Year 4 and is a part of the comprehensive evaluation that occurs in Year 10.
The following steps make up the Assurance Review:
- The institution demonstrates that it meets the Criteria for Accreditation by preparing an Assurance Filing, comprised of an Assurance Argument and an Evidence File, using HLC’s Assurance System.
”‹In the Assurance Argument, the institution demonstrates how it meets each Criterion and Core Component. For each Criterion, the institution offers:
a. An articulation of how each Core Component within the Criterion is met.
b. A summary statement regarding any additional ways in which the institution fulfills the
Criterion that are not otherwise covered in the statements on the Core Components.
c. Links to materials in the institution’s Evidence File for each claim or argument made
- A team of peer reviewers evaluates the institution’s Assurance Filing. The outcome of this review is a recommendation as to whether the institution meets the Criteria for Accreditation. This review will also include an on-site visit by the peer review team. The Assurance Review conducted in Year 4 of the Open Pathway does not include an on-site visit unless the team determines one is necessary to explore uncertainties in evidence that cannot be resolved at a distance or if a sanction is being considered.
- On-site visit by a peer review team to verify that the claims made by the institution in its submitted materials are accurate. For institutions on the Standard and Open Pathways, visits typically last 1 1/2 days. In all cases, the team will remain in the area for an additional day of deliberations after the visit.
- Approximately six months prior to the visit, HLC sets the peer review team and sends the team roster to the institution. The roster includes information about each peer reviewer’s current institutional affiliation and position and areas of professional expertise.
- The peer review team’s report includes its findings as to whether the institution meets HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation, as well as possible recommendations for further action or monitoring. The team uses the following guidelines to determine if a Criterion is met:
- The Criterion is met without concerns, meaning that the institution meets or exceeds the expectations embodied in the Criterion (stated as Criterion is met); or
- The institution demonstrates the characteristics expected by the Criterion, but performance in relation to some Core Components of the Criterion must be improved (stated as Criterion is met with concerns).
The institution meets the Criterion only if all Core Components are met. The institution must be judged to meet all five Criteria for Accreditation to merit Reaffirmation of Accreditation. The peer review team may recommend interim monitoring or recommend that any concerns be addressed in the institution’s next Assurance Filing. When conducting a Year 10 comprehensive evaluation, the team includes a recommendation regarding the institution’s Reaffirmation of Accreditation and pathway eligibility.
- A decision-making body reviews the institution’s documentation and the recommendation from the peer review team and takes an official action.
- Decision-making bodies are comprised of institutional representatives and public members. Unless otherwise specified, the decision-making bodies are broadly representative of the colleges and universities accredited by HLC, with attention to institutional type, control, size and geographical distribution.
- The team drafts its report four to six weeks following the start of the review or on-site visit.
- The institution will be asked to review the report and the team’s recommendations for errors of fact before the team submits its final report to HLC. The institution will be asked to submit a response to the final team report.
- The report and institutional response are then sent to the Institutional Actions Council for review and action. This may involve accepting the team’s recommendation regarding Reaffirmation of Accreditation or assigning additional institutional monitoring, if necessary.