American InterContinental University (AIU or the University) released the following statement in response to the December 17, 2009 Alert Memorandum (Memo) issued by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General (OIG) concerning the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC):
On behalf of the University, its students, alumni, faculty and employees, AIU firmly believes the decision of HLC in May, 2009 to grant AIU initial accreditation for a five-year period, the full initial period available under HLC’s policies, was entirely appropriate and fully supported by the facts. The suggestion by OIG that HLC failed to act diligently in accrediting AIU is unfounded.
AIU is absolutely committed to its responsibilities as an accredited member of HLC, and to offering educational opportunities that are in accord with best practices of American higher education and that translate into verifiable, successful outcomes for the University’s students. As an important part of that commitment, AIU firmly stands behind the principle of quality assurance in the form of accreditation being conducted by independent accrediting bodies, such as HLC.
AIU had been accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ (SACS), a regional commission co-equal to HLC, since 1987. The University sought HLC accreditation after it relocated its main campus from Atlanta to the Chicago region, which is within HLC’s jurisdiction. As a condition of changing its accreditation, and even though the University was in good standing with SACS, AIU was expected to, and did, successfully go through a full HLC accreditation review to demonstrate that it met each and every one of HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation.
The University engaged with HLC in a carefully structured, lengthy and intensive review process conducted by HLC staff and volunteer evaluators in conjunction with scores of AIU faculty, administrators and staff. Many thousands of hours of work, including the review and analysis of thousands of documents and hundreds of interviews with AIU administrators, students, staff, faculty and governing board members, were involved in that effort.
As previously reported, HLC, in granting AIU initial accreditation and in the context of continuous institutional improvement, identified the allocation of credit hours for AIU’s adult learner-oriented online courses as an area that the University should continue to address. It is important to understand that AIU is not alone in seeking to deal with the issue of assigning credit for online courses. Recently, the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education issued a paper acknowledging the wide range of learning options that have become available and observing that it is no longer possible to use the common model of “seat time” to measure most online and other courses delivered through non-traditional means.
HLC is currently engaged in an appropriate and thorough review of this issue, which will include an advisory team visit by HLC of AIU scheduled for early January, 2010. AIU is prepared to clearly demonstrate to HLC at that advisory visit that the course structure of its upper-division Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs was developed and implemented in a manner fully consistent with good practice and contemporary learning theory.
We are confident that HLC’s upcoming professional, peer review of AIU’s programs will confirm the substance and integrity of the University’s academic offerings.
About American InterContinental University
Founded in Europe in 1970, American InterContinental University offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees in programs such as business, IT, criminal justice and fashion design at U.S. campuses in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, Weston, Fla.; an international campus in London; and an internet-based online campus headquartered in suburban Chicago. The award-winning AIU Online Virtual Campus was recognized as “Best of the Best” in the 2009 Computerworld Honors Program.
AIU is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association. For more information, visit www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org or call 312-263-0456.