Self-Study ReportVirtual Resource Room
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
- Chapter 6
- Supplemental Materials
- Materials for Site Visit
- A - Z Subject Index
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Did the HLC Make this Change?
The HLC still works with a ten-year time frame for their full cycle of accreditation, and nothing has changed regarding UND’s accreditation status.
The transition to more frequent interactions (beginning for us with this Assurance Report) within that ten-year cycle was motivated by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). Perhaps you’ve noticed that higher education has been in the news a lot in recent years – and not always in positive ways. Perhaps you’ve noticed that the pace of change in higher education has escalated. In view of those realities and pressed by Congress and the public to demand more from accreditors, the DOE said, essentially, “Ten years? That’s an unreasonably long period to expect ‘steady state’ in a university today.” All regional accreditors were required to adopt accreditation cycles that include more frequent interaction; for us, that means following the HLC’s new cycle, which they’ve named Pathways.
What Exactly is the Pathways System of Accreditation
Pathways is simply the HLC’s name for its ten-year cycle of contacts with institutions. The cycle begins after a previous site visit is completed.
In Year 4, institutions submit an Assurance Report that addresses each accreditation criterion, component, and sub-component via an analysis of the institution’s efforts in relation to that criterion, supported by links to evidence (institutional documents of various sorts, for the most part) that demonstrate the point made.
- In Years 5 through 9, institutions develop, submit, and report on a Quality Improvement Proposal (QIP). The QIP is intended to be an opportunity to do something big that fits with the university’s own needs and priorities – recognizing that doing big things can result in failures (from which the university learns) as well as successes.
- The cycle culminates in Year 10 with a final Assurance Report, accompanied by a federal policy compliance report. This is followed by a site visit that examines and “tests” what the reports say against what the site visit team finds on the ground.
What's the Difference Between a Self-Study and an Assurance Report?
Not much. The real difference is that self-study chapters were allowed to be as long as the institution saw fit, enabling writers to tell a story about the institution while addressing the criterion and component. The Assurance Report is intended to be a purposefully terse document, constrained by word counts and containing only the essence of the argument with all supporting evidence available via link. And the Assurance Report will be filed on an HLC-owned website set up for that purpose. There will be no colorful graphics, attractive pictures, or other “superfluous” content in that report. It’ll consist of text (making the argument for how the evidence shows that UND does or does not meet a criterion component) and associated links to documentary evidence.
How Many People Are Going to be Needed to Prepare this Assurance Report?
At the time of our self-study, the HLC placed a premium on ensuring that institutions engaged a wide spectrum of faculty, staff, and administrators, with the goal of creating a self-study that would be significant for institutional improvement as well as useful for HLC reaccreditation. We did that in UND's 2013 Self-Study and many of you were probably part of that work. And the work did indeed prove meaningful for the institution as shown in the recent updates.
The HLC recommends a different approach to the Assurance Report. They suggest that we use a more streamlined process, engaging fewer individuals in collecting and analyzing information and then writing criterion chapters with evidence links. And we plan to do that, working initially with one lead person for each criterion area and determining additional participation needs in conversation with that small team of people. Nevertheless, the work to be completed is significant, and we anticipate that anyone who is interested in being involved will be used in a role consistent with individual interests.
What's the Timeline for Getting this Done?
What we know is that UND will be assigned what the HLC calls a “lock-down date” once we’re a bit further into the process. The lock-down date will signal our last opportunity to make any additions or revisions to our documentation, and that is expected to occur in late summer or early fall of 2017. So we will be working toward that date, with the expectation that planning and initial data collection will occur in 2015-16, and the bulk of the evidence collection and writing will take place in 2016-17.